Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Greenies headed for Splitsville

Internal tensions in the Greens have escalated further with the party's former leader Christine Milne challenging two NSW MPs to condemn members of the party calling for a split in the movement.

Fairfax Media last month reported on the formation of a new factional grouping within the Greens calling itself "Left Renewal" and advocating a radical platform rejecting the legitimacy of the state and calling for the end of capitalism.

That development has been followed by some Greens members calling for the development of a left-wing alternative to the party. Deputy membership officer, Tomas Hamilton, last week called the Greens a "hollow shell" and advocated forming "a proper anti-establishment left populist party".

Ms Milne, who resigned as the Greens' federal leader in 2015, called on two prominent left-wing Greens MPs from NSW to condemn those remarks and for Mr Hamilton to resign.

"These individuals identify with [federal senator] Lee Rhiannon and [state MP] David Shoebridge," Ms Milne said. "They must be confident they have their support. That really puts the onus on those MPs to call them out.

"Seeing an elected office bearer say that they're intending to develop a base for a new party is completely destructive. They should leave now."

Ms Rhiannon and Mr Shoebridge have said they are not Left Renewal members but have defended its members' rights to express their views.

 Expelling members not the answer, says Lee Rhiannon. "I don't think the expulsion of Greens members from Left Renewal or the right-wing grouping is a sensible way forward," Ms Rhiannon said. "We need to remain an inclusive party that considers a diversity of views consistent with our four Greens principles."

Ms Rhiannon said the party should use democratic forums to discuss policy proposals.

But Mr Hamilton, a critic of some conservative members of the NSW party, denied he was of the Left Renewal faction and said he should not resign for expressing dissenting views.

Young Greens members of Left Renewal have publicly expressed similar sentiments about developing an alternative to the Greens.

Mr Shoebridge said he was unable to respond because he was on holiday and had not seen Mr Hamilton's remarks.

Ms Milne also partly backed calls from her predecessor, Bob Brown, who called on Ms Rhiannon to move on from politics.

"Lee was democratically elected a year ago but I do think she should think about not running [for another term]," Ms Milne said. "If you're going to call for renewal then you have to lead."

Ms Rhiannon rejected calls by Mr Brown to stand down after last year's election, saying she intended to continue in her job.

The recent divisions represents the escalation of an old battle between the party's left wing, known to detractors as the "Eastern bloc" and more centrist MPs, a group dismissed by opponents as "tree Tories".

Candidates backed by the left have lost out in the two most recent state preselections in NSW.


Australia risks being left behind as America becomes great again

Forget about trade with America, foreign relations and all the other topics highbrow commentators love to ruminate about. Stephen Moore, senior economic adviser to president-elect Donald Trump, said recently on BBC radio that dramatic tax cuts are the “single most important thing for our country right now”. If Trump gets his way, and it seems he will, we could face a major crisis.

Trump plans to transform America into the most attractive business destination on the ­planet. The US is a beautiful country, and very shortly it could become a veritable tax haven. If it does, the world’s capital will be unable to resist its pull.

The US is now the highest ­corporate taxer in the OECD. ­Accor­d­ing to experts, the rate is almost 40 per cent. Trump plans to make it 15 per cent, a rate that will be the second lowest in the OECD. US companies hold $US2.4 trillion ($3.3 trillion) in capital outside the US because they don’t want to pay high rates of tax. Trump is offering a 10 per cent tax rate to all those who bring that money home.

US personal tax rates will be slashed too, but ordinary workers will be allowed to “incorporate” themselves and pay company tax instead. Think about that. The highly skilled can work here and pay 49 per cent, or they can work in the US and pay 15 per cent. These policies could mean for us a brain drain and a flight of capital.

In Ireland — the lowest corporate taxer in the OECD — ­politicians are ringing the alarm bells, loudly. In November, the Irish News quoted Alan Kelly, Labour Party spokesman on jobs, enterprise and innovation, as saying: “Our 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate has been the cornerstone of our industrial strategy for nearly two decades. If Mr Trump follows through on plans to slash the US corporate tax rate to 15 per cent, it could undermine the effectiveness of our corporate tax rate to attract business to Ireland.” Kelly pointed out that US invest­ment in Ireland stood at $US343 billion and that the British government had “mooted pro­posals” to reduce its corporate tax rate to 15 per cent or lower. “We now need to fundamentally reassess and consider our future strategy on attracting foreign ­direct investment,” he said.

When even the Irish Labour Party is talking like this, how concerning then that Malcolm Turnbull has not grasped the nettle. We might have just as much to lose, perhaps more, than Ireland. The US is easily the biggest direct investor in Australia — $US174bn in 2015 — and yet our government seems blind to the danger of that money disappearing very soon.

Trump’s tax plans are easily available online; I urge you to examine them. A competent ­cabinet would have war-gamed the scenario last year, examined a financial analysis, considered the potential ­impact on our economy, and formed some draft policy outlines in ­response. But no, the Coalition team is caught in blissful ignorance and lazy complacency. With rare ­exceptions, when Trump’s plans are explained, their responses range from lack of interest to wonder or disbelief, and there is scoffing at the chances of them coming to fruition. Trump differs from our Prime Minister in many ways but, notably, Trump is not timid, he knows no fear. Plus, he controls congress now. Why would he water down his tax plans?

Key business people are sounding warnings, including ANZ chairman David Gonski. Last month, The Canberra Times reported Gonski as asking: “If it is the case that corporations in the US are taxed at 15 per cent, why would new technologies, why would any corporations wish to, basically, be here?”

The answer, of course, is that they won’t, and neither will a great many people. As soon as Trump’s plans are enacted, anyone who can will leave and there is nothing we can do to stop them. Governments cannot hold people and their capital hostage; they can only make their own country an attractive investment destination. I’m sorry to say this but Australia is already pretty unattractive.

One Nation is keen to initiate major tax reform. It knows we need it desperately. But Coalition types say they can’t push for big tax cuts because of criticism from the opposition. Bill Shorten makes snide references to a $50bn tax cut going into the pockets of “big business”. Yet the obvious retort has never been made: yes, tax cuts for big business mean bigger profits for the owners of big business, but who are the owners of big business? The shareholders, direct ­investors and anyone with a superannuation account.

Big tax cuts for business will protect our economy, drive jobs and growth, and put more money in the pockets of ordinary people. The Prime Minister must formulate a plan for bold and urgent cuts in both business and income taxes, and advocate them strongly. For our nation, this has to be a “come to Jesus” moment.

Finally, I don’t want to hear the excuse that we cannot afford big tax cuts — because, soon, we won’t be able to afford not to make them. Once the money and people are gone it will be too late.

Besides, cutting tax isn’t something you do only once you have reserves. Cutting tax is a “build it and they will come” kind of thing. Trump recognises this. When he slashes taxes, America will be flooded with capital — much of it having taken flight from here.

Trump is about to build America a grand future and we are about to have our future come crashing down around our heads.


Donald Trump will stop Australia-US refugee deal

Donald Trump "will do everything in his power" to halt the refugee deal between Australia and the US, according to a hardline Texan congressman who is confident no resettlements will ever take place from Manus Island or Nauru.

More than two months after the agreement between outgoing President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was announced, slow progress on applications and lengthy security vetting by the US Department of Homeland Security is raising fear among those held in the Australian offshore immigration detention centres, ahead of Mr Trump's inauguration on January 20.

Texas Republican Brian Babin, a prominent critic of Mr Obama's refugee resettlement policies, called the one-off Australian deal "madness" and said the incoming administration would overturn it.

A member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, the two-term representative of Texas's 36th congressional district said Mr Trump would block any of the planned resettlements facilitated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees because of risks to the safety and security of America's citizens.

"I am confident President-elect Trump will do everything in his power to put an immediate stop to this secret Australian-US refugee deal that should have simply never happened in the first place," he told Fairfax Media.

"It was made behind doors without any input from Congress. In fact, when Congress asked for details on the agreement and the refugees, the Obama administration refused to share the information.

"This secret deal to import dangerous refugees into the US is exactly what the American people soundly rejected in November with the election of Donald Trump."

The comments follow similar criticism from the influential chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, who said in November the White House had "left Americans in the dark".

Senator Chuck Grassley and Congressman Bob Goodlatte warned against taking in asylum seekers "from countries of national security concern" and states designated by the US as sponsors of terrorism, forcing letters of assurance from the State Department and Homeland Security before Christmas stating that countries involved in the plan were already included in the existing US refugee intake.

The deal is understood to have wider benefits for the US, unrelated to refugee management. Australia has agreed to resettle refugees from Central America's "northern triangle" countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, currently living in camps in Costa Rica.

As part of the agreement in New York in September, Australia also committed $130 million for further aid to displaced people around the world.

Optimism exists among Australian diplomats in the US that refugee resettlements will still proceed, even taking into account Mr Trump's mooted ban on Muslim immigration and inflammatory campaign rhetoric about refugees.

One US-based immigration expert said a wider refugee ban was likely when Mr Trump took office and suggested Mr Turnbull start exploring other options.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton refuses to discuss progress of the deal, while a spokesman for Mr Turnbull said he remained confident it would survive the change of administration.

Asylum seeker advocates in Australia said US immigration officials were due back on Nauru over the weekend, with about 100 people there currently being processed for possible resettlement.

Homeland Security officials are expected in Nauru in February.

On Manus Island, detainees are expecting immigration officials next month but no list of possible transfers has been prepared.


Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk slammed for ‘review, not do’ strategy

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s minority government has overseen 145 reviews, inquiries, taskforces and new ­bureaucratic offices in less than two years, prompting concerns her administration is plagued by “paralysis”.

The Queensland government has ordered more than 120 reviews and inquiries since defeating the Liberal National Party at the January 2015 election.

Ms Palaszczuk’s government, which claimed victory with the support of independent Speaker Peter Wellington, has also established various committees and ­offices as part of an “ultra­conservative” approach described by insiders as an “anti-Campbell Newman style of management”.

The Australian can reveal Ms Palaszczuk’s government has now overtaken the number of reviews and taskforces commissioned by former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell. Dubbed a “do-nothing premier” before his political demise in 2014, he commissioned at least 106 reviews within 30 months.

Acting Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington described Ms Pala­sz­­czuk as a “do-nothing Premier” as both sides prepare for an ­election this year that will feature a resurgent One Nation party.

“This conveyor belt of reviews from the Annastacia Palaszczuk Labor government is staggering,” Ms Frecklington said.

“It exposes her limp leadership and the ­administrative paralysis that has become a plague in Queensland.

“What we have is an excuse for a government, beholden to the unions and bankrupt of ideas.”

Ms Frecklington described the government as “comatose”, and said the Queensland economy would suffer.

Palaszczuk government reviews have looked into renewable energy targets, rail services failures, youth detention, anti-bikie laws, parole, compulsory third-party insurance, the working-with-children blue card system, local government reforms, retail ­trading hours and vegetation management.

“In the last 12 months, more than 30,000 jobs have dis­appeared in Queensland while almost 40,000 Queenslanders have given up looking for work,” Ms Frecklington said.

“That’s what happens when you review instead of do.

“Worse still, most of these ­reviews are ­either late or the final reports have been kept secret.”

Acting Premier Jackie Trad told The Australian that the ­Palaszczuk government was ­“repairing the damage done to the Queens­land economy by the Newman-Nicholls LNP ­government”.

She said the government had delivered “more jobs, faster growth than the rest of the nation, lower debt” and a budget in ­surplus.

The government had also overseen an increase in the ­bureaucracy, employing more than 250,000 Queenslanders on the public-sector payroll.

“Our government is supporting 31,000 jobs this year alone through our four-year, $40 billion infrastructure program,” Ms Trad said. “Projects including stage 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail and Townsville Stadium are happening, and we’re progressing major projects like the Cross River Rail — all without selling our income-generating assets.”

Ms Trad attacked the legacy of the previous LNP government, and rejected assertions that minority government had stifled their ability to promote Labor policies.


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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