Thursday, October 13, 2016

Australian Christian Lobby thanks 'helpful' Bill Shorten for same-sex marriage plebiscite veto

The Australian Christian Lobby has thanked Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for playing a "helpful" and "important" role in its plan to stop same-sex marriage, after Labor committed to blocking the Turnbull government's proposed plebiscite.

ACL managing director Lyle Shelton, one of the highest-profile campaigners against marriage equality, enthused that Mr Shorten had delivered "the gift of time" to same-sex marriage opponents by torpedoing the planned February 11 public vote.

A day after Labor decided to block the same sex marriage plebiscite, debate is still raging over how to achieve marriage equality.

"We have a plan to win the marriage debate and yesterday Bill Shorten played an important and helpful role in that plan," he wrote in an email to supporters.

"We now have more time to continue building our campaign, more time to build our coalition, and more time to win the hearts and minds of millions of Australians.

"Make no mistake, Bill Shorten is playing politics with this issue. Yet he has unwittingly given our side of the debate the gift of time."

Mr Shelton called on ACL supporters to open their wallets and donate to "ensure we make the most of the time Bill Shorten has given us". It echoes the view of conservative Coalition MPs such as George Christensen, who previously said that if Labor blocked the plebiscite, "that suits me, it will suit a lot of other conservatives as well".

Publicly, the ACL was a vocal supporter of the plebiscite, and on Tuesday issued a press release declaring its disappointment at Labor's decision to "shut out" Australians from having their say on the issue, labelling the decision "perplexing".

Labor finally made an official call on the plebiscite at a caucus meeting on Tuesday, agreeing unanimously to block the proposal in the Senate, ensuring it will not proceed. Mr Shorten said the plebiscite was expensive, non-binding and would subject gay and lesbian people to a hateful campaign by opponents.

He rejected the argument that Labor has effectively killed off marriage equality for the duration of this Parliament, remaining "optimistic" that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will somehow be moved to allow a free vote despite the vehement opposition of conservative backbenchers.

"I am optimistic when you ask about plan B," Mr Shorten said on Wednesday. "The national mood will not be deterred because Mr Turnbull is scared of the right wing of the Liberal Party.

"The national mood is for marriage equality. We will get this parliamentary vote and we will have marriage equality and we will keep working at it."

But one of the roadblocks to that is the Coalition agreement between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the National Party prescribing a plebiscite rather than a free vote, and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce showed no sign of backing down on that pact.

Mr Joyce ruled out a free vote on same-sex marriage in this Parliament during an ABC radio interview on Tuesday night. But he also said threats by Nationals MP Andrew Broad to bring down the government and sit on the crossbench if there was a free vote were "obviously not helpful ... you can't really operate like that".

Labor senator Penny Wong said the community would "keep the pressure on" the Turnbull government to change its tune, and called on Liberal MPs who support same-sex marriage to break from the party's position.

But there is little sign of that taking place, with even veteran Coalition gay rights advocate Warren Entsch vowing not to cross the floor or push the issue any further if the plebiscite fails. "I'm done if they vote it down," he told Fairfax Media.


How hardcore Greens trumped unions on ­renewable energy target

Federal Labor’s 50 per cent ­renewable target was forced on to the party’s policy agenda by a hardcore environment offshoot against strong objections from the party’s traditional union base.

The target was hatched in a room above a pub in central ­Melbourne in late 2014 by a self-declared “scraggly bunch” of ­environmentalists operating within the party.

A re-energised Labor Environment Action Network went on to mount an aggressive grassroots campaign across the ALP branch network that conquered party heavyweights despite strong objections from the CFMEU.

Bill Shorten adopted LEAN’s 50 per cent renewables target by 2030 shortly before the ALP’s ­national conference last year, ­admitting he had no idea how the party would get there.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg yesterday accused the ­Opposition Leader in parliament of a “reckless pursuit” of an “ideological approach” to the target without thinking through the consequences.

Citing a Bloomberg New ­Energy Finance Report, Mr Frydenberg warned the Labor policy would cost $48 billion and took aim at Mr Shorten for refusing to explain how to achieve the 50 per cent target until October next year. “We are told that will ­require 10,000 turbines. Where are they going to be built?” Mr Frydenberg said. “If you had a $48bn program, you’d expect you’d have a bit of detail to show.”

In response, Labor sought to pressure Malcolm Turnbull over his plans to support renewable energy projects beyond 2020, with opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler saying the government had no policy and was wedded to coal as Australia’s “only energy future”.

LEAN organiser Felicity Wade said yesterday the statewide electricity blackout in South Australia had pushed debate past renewable energy targets to the need for greater market intervention. “Of course there is a huge debate in South Australia,” Ms Wade said.

“Targets are all very well but that is not where the debate is at. We need to reform the national electricity market and start a discussion on whether we can expect the market to do it.”

LEAN was set up in 2004 as a cross-factional environment ­organisation within the ALP by Jenny McAllister, who is now a senator, and former NSW premier Kristina Keneally.

The organisation welcomes ALP members but not members of any other party and has heavyweight patronage including federal environment spokesman Tony Burke in NSW.

Ms Wade, a former Wilderness Society campaigner and partner to Wilderness Society ­national campaign director Lyndon Schneiders, said LEAN had been revived just before the 2013 Labor election loss out of concern about what would happen to climate change policy in light of the disastrous carbon tax experience.

Ms Wade said senior figures in the ALP had warned her that if she cared about climate change she should back off and leave the issue until Labor was back in government.

She said the 50 per cent renewables policy was developed by a “scraggly bunch” who believed Labor needed to make climate change a conviction issue, not a tactical one.

For policy, the group took its lead from an international report by ClimateWorks, which set out a road map for decarbonisation and identified ways to get to net zero emissions by 2050.

“It was a light-bulb moment because here was a piece-by-piece plan,” Ms Wade said.

“That report had 50 per cent renewables by 2030 to net zero by 2050. We stole that target, which at the time was regarded as huge.”

Ms Wade said that while the climate change response was being set up as an environmental agenda it crossed into key Labor concerns of jobs, growth and ­security. She said there had been a “lack of recognition in the party” that “if we retool the energy sector there are major ideological ­issues”.

“When we designed the last energy system it was done by the state and planned,” she said.

“With South Australia we can see how hard it is to redesign the system using market incentives. Labor should be having these discussions. Are we going to import every last bit of plant or are we going to be active in saying we could have a piece of that?

“I am not saying go back to 1950s protectionism but there are huge public policy issues.

“It is in the ALP’s interest to have future-facing policies and natural heritage considerations in deciding the energy transition.”

LEAN started its renewables push with a simple PowerPoint presentation, a voiceover and brochure, and hit the road to ­explain it branch to branch. By the time it got to the ALP national conference, LEAN had 370 branches supporting the target.

“We had a clear mandate from members,” Ms Wade said. “But weeks out from the conference the CFMEU wrote to the ALP leadership saying they did not like the policy. We thought it was ­derailed but we held our ground.’’

The target was accepted as ALP policy and taken to the federal election. It has since been adopted by the Queensland Labor government. Mr Shorten has described the target as an ­ambition. “There’s a long way to go in terms of working through all the issues and details,” Mr Shorten said last year.

In the party’s Climate Change Action Plan during the election campaign, Mr Shorten said Labor would “announce the proposed design details by 1 October 2017 with legislation for post-2020 ­arrangements to be introduced to parliament in late 2017”.


Is It Legal To Smack Your Child?

It’s a controversial topic but there are many parents out there who prefer to give their kids a smack as a way to discipline them. Some parents find hitting a child, no matter how softly you do it, absolutely deplorable. But is smacking your kids even legal? We have the answer.

Wooden spoons were once the weapon of choice for mothers who wanted to physically punish their children. My mum was a seamstress and preferred a long, thick wooden ruler used to measure fabric. These days, time-poor parents use a quick smack, often delivered in the heat of the moment when their children are behaving badly.

In a poll of nearly 1400 Australians by News Corp, 75.7% considered it acceptable to smack children as a way to deter them from misbehaving. Meanwhile 39.5% said they would be furious if they see their friends smack their kids.

It’s definitely a controversial topic but according to the law, it’s not illegal to smack your children in Australia. However, there are conditions. According to the Australian Institute Of Family Studies:

    “In some jurisdictions a parent’s right to use corporal punishment is provided for in legislation (e.g., New South Wales), while in others it is provided for by the common law (“judge-made law”) (e.g., Victoria). All Australian states and territories condone (in principle) the use of force by a parent, by way of correction, towards a child.”

For example, in NSW, prior to 2002 it was up to judges to decide what kind of physical punishment was acceptable. Since the state introduced the Crimes Amendment (Child Protection Physical Measures Act, there is now clarification on what kind of physical punishment is permissible on a child.

According to the amendment, it’s okay to use physical force on a child provided that it “was reasonable having regard to the age, health, maturity or other characteristics of the child, the nature of the alleged misbehaviour or other circumstances”. Also, you can’t hit them above the neck or “any other part of the body of the child in such a way as to be likely to cause harm to the child that lasts for more than a short period”.


Not spending, investing

Michael Potter

Investment is the government buzzword. Governments no longer spend money, they invest. Invest in schools education, emergency workers, nurses and doctors. Invest for a better future, invest in jobs, invest in growth.

This farrago of spin omits discussion of the most important type of investment: business investment, even though private capital is a cornerstone of our economy. We won't have any money to pay for anything else if businesses don't acquire new capital.

But this is what is at risk today. Business is cutting back on investment at an alarming rate. Non-mining investment is not recovering as the mining boom ends, and (unsurprisingly) mining investment is falling dramatically; so total investment is set to be at recessionary levels in a couple of years if nothing is done.

And something can be done: cut the tax on investment, through company tax, from 30% to 25%. Treasury forecasts the tax cut will result in investment increasing by 2-3%, and this is probably an underestimate, as detailed in the research report Fix it or Fail: Why we must cut company tax now, released this week.

It details how Australia's company tax system is uncompetitive compared to other developed countries, and even more with the rest of the globe. This is potentially one reason investment is weakening quickly.

The report also explains how the tax cut is expected to provide a substantial boost to wages, national income and productivity, which are all growing at historically slow rates. And despite arguments to the contrary, the policy is easily affordable -- it can easily be funded by the tax measures included in the 2016-17 budget. What is not affordable is doing nothing, which will put Australia at risk of failure.


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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