Friday, November 09, 2018

Australia Indonesia free trade deal to be signed next week

Depending on how free this really is, it could be very beneficial.  Australia is a great rural producer and as a couple of hundred million Indonesians get richer and want more and better on their dinner plates, Australia would be well poised to help with that

A far-out possibiliy would be for the huge Indonesian rice market to be at least partially opened up.  The Ord is a very close shipping distance to Indonesia and has the potential to be a big rice producer.  It could be the salvation of the Ord as it presently grows very little food of any sort

Jakarta: Australia and Indonesia are poised to sign the landmark Australia-Indonesia free trade deal next week at the ASEAN summit in Singapore.

Fairfax Media has confirmed with three sources in the Indonesian government that the two countries plan to ink the agreement on November 14, the second day of the summit, which brings together world leaders from the Asian region.

The signing of the document is a win for the Morrison government, and comes after the Prime Minister announced a review of whether to move the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to extend diplomatic recognition to Jerusalem.

But political analysts warn that if the embassy move goes ahead, ratification of the deal by Indonesia's parliament could be delayed for months – even after it is signed by the two trade ministers.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Joko Widodo will both be in Singapore to witness the historic signing by off by trade ministers Simon Birmingham and Enggartiasto Lukita.

A senior source in Jakarta, who asked not to be named, confirmed "if things go as planned, it will be on the morning of November 14".

The source said that translation of the text into Bahasa Indonesia had been completed, and that the "legal scrubbing" process – which ensures the deal complies with local laws in both countries – has been finished too. Two other sources confirmed the signing was planned for next week.

The details of the free trade deal, which will boost Australian exports of beef and wheat and open the Indonesian market up to Australian healthcare and education providers, were agreed in August.

Political blow back over the embassy proposal in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, has been relatively restrained, but opposition could become more serious if Australia does decide to go ahead with the Jerusalem embassy move.

Last week, Jakarta's former top diplomat in Canberra Nadjib Riphat Kesoema said he was "shocked" by the embassy proposal and urged Australia to adopt foreign policies that were more independent of the US.

Lowy Institute non-resident fellow Matthew Busch said the signing of the much-delayed deal would be good news for the Morrison government and the bilateral relationship, "but the Indonesians have been very clear that this embassy move is a very important issue for them and it could become a domestic issue for their government".

"If Australia pressed ahead after the review of the location of the embassy in Israel there is no guarantee that the free trade deal road map would be adhered to," he said.

Mr Busch said it was possible that ratification of the free trade deal – formally known as the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement – could be delayed by the Indonesian parliament, given domestic political sensitivities over the status of Palestine.

With Indonesians due to head to the polls in April 2019 to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections, it is also possible opposition parties could stir protests over the deal – as occurred when US President Donald Trump announced his country would move its embassy to Jerusalem – and cause a major headache for Mr Widodo.

The Australian trade deal was due to be signed at a recent conference in Bali on the health of the world's oceans but was delayed.

Last week, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull warned after meeting Mr Widodo that moving the embassy would meet a "very negative reaction" in Indonesia. He said, however, that he expected the trade deal would be signed in a matter of weeks.


Feds threaten councils over Australia Day date change

Dutton not hoodwinked

The federal government has threatened to strip several NSW councils of the right to hold Australia Day citizenship ceremonies amid plans to hold them a day earlier.

Hawkesbury City is reportedly considering holding its ceremonies on the evening of January 25 because of the daytime heat.

Kempsey and Bellingen shire councils have similar plans, according to Macquarie Media.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton suggested the move was political rather than weather related and warned them against changing the day. "I don't care whether people are seeking to move it in an obvious way or playing games - the intent is very clear," he told Sydney's 2GB on Thursday. "Australians don't want councils playing politics with these issues."

Mr Dutton said ratepayers expected Australia Day to be "respectful" to those new citizens who consider it one of the proudest days of their lives. "We're not going to have that disrupted by this nonsense," he said.

"The rules are pretty clear. If they're not going to abide by it, then they'll find themselves without the ability to conduct the ceremony."

Last month, Byron Shire Council backed down on its plan to move its citizenship ceremonies from January 26 after threats from Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He called the move "indulgent self-loathing".

Citizenship Minister David Coleman later wrote to all council mayors to reinforce that citizenship ceremonies should be apolitical, bipartisan, non-commercial and secular.


Conservatives believe Queensland federal marginal seats again winnable under Morrison

As Scott Morrison’s “Sco-mobile” ghost bus has made its way northward, so too have the Coalition’s hopes of retaining crucial electorates.

LNP sources confirm Morrison’s elevation to prime minister alone has put Queensland “back in play”, with early internal polling showing marginal electorates all but written off by the government under Malcolm Turnbull’s tenure as prime minister once again considered “competitive”.

Morrison’s four-day tour of Queensland, from the south-east to Townsville, has been seen as the start of the pseudo election campaign, with the north crucial to any chance the government has of remaining in power, or “at the very least, keeping a loss to something potentially overcome in an election cycle, rather than a generation”.

With the southern states all but being dismissed by Coalition sources as a “zero sum game” come polling day, the fictional “Brisbane line” has taken on new meaning, as the Morrison government concentrates on Queensland and Western Australia as its potential keys to victory.

Party sources have reported a “reinvigoration” in Queensland following Morrison’s elevation to prime minister but no one was willing to go as far as to say it was a game-changer.

“We don’t know if it’s him, or just that it’s not Malcolm,” one party source told Guardian Australia. “But we know that people are prepared to listen again, and that is more than we could say in June.”

The Coalition holds 21 of Queensland’s 30 seats, with the state key to the 2016 election win. Under Turnbull, the Coalition won 49% of NSW’s seats, 46% of Victoria, 36% of South Australia and nothing in Tasmania.

But in Western Australia, the Liberals claimed 69% of seats, beaten only by Queensland where the LNP won 70%, which, at the time, gave the government a one-seat majority.

The Wentworth byelection loss has seen the Morrison government lose that majority and it now must govern with the support of the crossbench.

Labor has not been shy in declaring its intention to seriously challenge for at least a dozen of the seats held by the LNP, where the Coalition is officially one party.

Four months ago, party sources had conceded holding at least six of those seats, including Dawson, Forde, Petrie, Capricornia, Flynn and Dickson, was looking like a challenge.

“It is still going to be tough but we are off to a better start this election campaign under Morrison, at least so far,” another party source said. “I can tell you that, internally, we know that Morrison is better for us in those seats than Turnbull was.”

That comes as no surprise, as Queensland MPs, led by Peter Dutton, and backed by the state party executive, were at the forefront of the push to remove Turnbull from office, a move that proved only half-successful, when Morrison snatched the party room numbers when it became clear Dutton did not have enough support.

Morrison may not be popular in the rest of the country but in Queensland he is considered more popular than Turnbull and, for the moment, that is considered enough.

But that is not to say the LNP is feeling confident.

Katter’s Australian party, having dealt with the issue of Fraser Anning by removing him from the party, has indicated it will make a serious play for two Queensland seats, Leichardt, held by the LNP’s Warren Entsch, and Herbert, held, just, by Labor’s Cathy O’Toole.

KAP preferences in those seats, along with Clive Palmer’s reincarnated political push, in the north Queensland seat of Herbert, are likely to prove crucial.

Preliminary reports from the north of the state show Leichardt to be “fairly safe” as long as Entsch remains the candidate.

“The moment Warren goes, that seat goes,” a LNP source said. “He’s the key. Same sort of thing as Bonner [a Brisbane eastern suburbs seat held by the LNP’s Ross Vasta since 2010], where a good local candidate makes all the difference.

“Looking at it at the moment though, you could see a couple of three-way contests up north, where one of the majors gets bumped by a minor party and, at this stage, I don’t think anyone could say if it would be Labor or us who came out on top.”

Dawson, held by George Christensen, is considered to be safe as “Georgie doesn’t really give voters up there a reason to turn to One Nation, there’s not a lot separating him”, while Flynn, held by Ken O’Dowd, is considered “lineball”.

A surprise worry is the inner city seat of Brisbane, held by Trevor Evans, where Andrew Bartlett is standing as the Greens candidate in an electorate showing a strong green tinge. In the last election, Labor received its lowest primary vote in the seat since Federation, as voters turned to the minor party, which has seen a growing influence in the state and last year elected its first state MP.

But once again, the Pauline Hanson effect looms large, its shadow chasing Morrison’s government plane, and bus, up the state’s major highways, as he makes stops in central and northern towns considered most primed for her message.

“And that is what makes it so unpredictable,” another LNP source, familiar with campaign plans said. “Hanson attracted about 20% of the Longman vote while floating off the coast of Ireland. She doesn’t even have to be there, people just look for her name. So while Morrison is a better foil than Turnbull for that, who knows what impact that will ultimately have.”


Australian students plan school strikes to protest against climate inaction

Government by children?  Greenie parents behind it, no doubt

Hundreds of students around the country are preparing to strike from school because of what they say is a failure by politicians to recognise climate change as an emergency.

They’ve been inspired by 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish student who has been sitting outside the parliament in central Stockholm to draw attention to the fears younger generations hold about the global climate crisis and the failure of countries to take urgent action.

Fourteen-year-old Milou Albrecht, a year 8 student at Castlemaine Steiner school in Victoria, her classmate Harriet O’Shea Carre, and 11-year-old Callum Bridgefoot from Castlemaine North primary school, started by protesting last week outside of the offices of their local representatives, the Labor MP Lisa Chester and the Nationals deputy leader, Bridget McKenzie. They’ve been joined by 50 students from local schools and are planning weekly events.

And what began as a small local protest is growing into a nationwide movement. Students in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Hobart, the Whitsundays, Lismore, the Gold Coast, Albury-Wodonga and the Sunshine Coast are planning to walk out of classes this month.

Similar plans are being explored in other regional areas including Coffs Harbour, Cairns, Townsville and the southern highlands of New South Wales. Hundreds of students have indicated they want to attend protests outside state parliaments in the capital cities on 28, 29 and 30 November.

The idea for the strikes came from the Castlemaine students, who contacted the Australian Youth Climate Coalition for help.

They have had assistance from the coalition and their parents with contacting media, building a website and spreading the word about the strikes through their social networks.

“We think it’s important because it’s a huge problem,” Milou said. “The Earth is already too hot, with droughts in winter in NSW and the coral reef is dying.”

She said students were speaking to Greta in Sweden each week. “I would like our politicians to acknowledge climate change is an emergency and take the necessary steps in order to have a sustainable world,” she said.

A 14-year-old Fort Street high school student, Jean Hinchliffe, is organising the Sydney walkout on 30 November. She said there was a template letter students who were worried about taking time off class could give to their teachers.

“We’ve got involved because at this stage we can’t vote, we’re not politicians and we want to make a difference,” she said. “We can’t stand around waiting.

“I think it’s because climate change is scary seeing that it’s our future. This is a fact and not to be debated.”


Isaac Plains coalmine ramps up production

Stanmore Coal has secured additional long-term port capacity at Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, Mackay, paving the way to step up production at its Isaac Plains mine near Moranbah.

The company said the extra capacity added certainty for the company to pursue options to take its coal handling and preparation plant to its nameplate capacity of 3.5Mtpa ROM.

In announcement to the ASX, it said the Isaac Plains complex’s reserves and resources were sufficient to allow it to ramp up production to match that capacity.

It is increasing its production guidance for the 2019 financial year from 1.8Mtpa to 2Mtpa.


The whole Liberal tribe are cheering new PM on


Any political party that hopes to win a democratic election in its own right is inevitably a coalition of people with different interests and values. That’s been true both of the Labor Party and of the Liberal-National Coalition that between them have formed every government since 1949.

There has never been a time when the big parties have been free of differences within them, as well as between them. There have always been economic liberals and economic conservatives on both sides, and there have always been social conservatives and social progressives too — although the Liberals have been more economically liberal and less socially ­progressive, and Labor the reverse. And while the Coalition’s ­centre of gravity, as John Howard used to observe, has invariably been “economically liberal and socially conservative”, the extent to which the party has been “liberal” on some things and “conservative” on others has always depended on the political character of the leader and on the composition of the partyroom.

Differences of degree among senior members of the party are not new: think Howard (economically “dry”) and Andrew Peacock (“wet”); or Howard (a monarchist) and Peter Costello (a republican). Malcolm Turnbull and I are not the first (and won’t be the last) Liberal contemporaries to have lined up on different sides of the internal divide. Think, for instance, of the NSW Liberal leadership team of Gladys Berejiklian (thought to be a moderate) and Dom Perrottet (undoubtedly a conservative). The NSW government has its issues (as all governments do) but no one says that it’s paralysed by ideology or doesn’t deserve to win the next election.

I respectfully disagree with Paul Kelly’s assessment on this page last Wednesday that the Liberal Party (and the Coalition) is now almost irredeemably torn because it represents seats with a fundamentally different world-view. I accept that the view from Wentworth in Sydney’s eastern suburbs differs from the view in Longman on the outer fringes of Brisbane; but when Kerryn Phelps said last week that the big issues were ABC funding, climate change and getting children off Nauru, she said more about herself than about her new seat.

Socially progressive voters are certainly more numerous in Wentworth (where One Nation didn’t run) than in Longman (where it has a 16 per cent vote) but it’s also worth noting that the Liberal vote in Wentworth was higher in 2013 (with a more conservative leader) than in 2016 (with a more progressive one).

Kelly is right that internal differences are harder to manage in the era of 24/7 mainstream media plus the social media echo chamber. Still, being in opposition is in no one’s interests. A looming election concentrates the mind wonderfully. As well, the protest factors at work right now will fade once voters have to choose ­between a middle-of-the-road Coalition government and what would be the most left-wing Labor government in our history.

Howard was correct to say in The Weekend Australian that nothing “is more important than the relationship between the prime minister and the men and women who comprise the parliamentary party”. The differences between Liberal MPs do matter; but not nearly as much as how they’re managed. Howard, for instance, was better at managing his colleagues in his second stint as leader than he’d been in his first.

In my judgment, it’s much less a philosophical divide that’s hurt the party over the past five years than a clash of personalities. I’m confident that the internals will be better handled now that some leading players have changed.

There were a lot of big egos, huge ambitions and differing philosophical outlooks in the Howard cabinet, but colleagues hardly ever leaked against each other. Costello, for instance, has never been given enough credit for the honourable way in which he handled the differences that he sometimes had with his leader. Peacock had Howard in his shadow cabinet and vice versa. For his part, Howard always ensured that his cabinet reflected the Liberal Party’s “broad church”. When Turnbull decided to stay in parliament in 2010, I had him on my frontbench and kept him there in government — along with Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne and George Brandis. Turnbull never returned the compliment. His problem was not that he had too many conservatives in his partyroom but that he didn’t have enough of them in his cabinet.

All prime ministers face challenges and all make mistakes. Still, Scott Morrison won’t have the problems that I had as PM because no one is stalking him for his job. He won’t have the problems Turnbull had as PM because he is a much more tribal Liberal; and because he’s done the best he could, under the circumstances, to acknowledge the two biggest personalities on his backbench.

Although Morrison appreciates that our party does best when it’s led from the centre-right, he hasn’t abandoned Turnbull’s commitment to emissions reduction nor changed the immigration policy. He’s kept Snowy 2.0 and Gonski 2.0. He hasn’t solved the challenge to religious freedom in the era of identity politics and ultra-left activism — and he probably can’t. What he won’t ever find, though, is any personal hostility from the so-called Right, because he has no wish to marginalise them inside the party.

There will always be some Liberals who want the party to go further on climate change or be more compassionate on boatpeople. There will always be others to question turning the economy upside down when it won’t make any difference to emissions, and to caution against anything that might embolden the people-smugglers. It’s not a question of decency versus hardness of heart but of what really is the most ­humane thing to do. The leader’s job is to get the balance right.

It goes without saying that the next election will be tough. But under Morrison, it won’t be internal division that holds us back. We can’t change the self-inflicted wounds of the past five years, the squandered majority, and the fact that we’re seeking a third term against the Labor Party, the Greens, the unions and GetUp.

But against this, Morrison will have a fierce will to win, unbounded energy, political savvy, and the whole Liberal tribe cheering him on.


 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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