Tuesday, April 23, 2019

‘We are in a crisis’: Australia’s recycling nightmare

For some reason, plastic is a great Greenie demon and there is a big imperative to recycle it.  Dropping it down a hole is apparently not good enough any more. A lot of Australia's playing fields and parks were once dumps but that is no longer wise, apparently.

But most plastic cannot economically be recycled so the little we do recycle requires government subsidies and support of various kinds. It costs money to recyle.  Making something useful out of rubbish is difficult. The fantasy that recycled rubbish can pay for itself is long gone. And the great bulk that we do not recycle we send overseas where they mostly burn it. But now other countries don't want it either, even if we pay them

If the Greenies had a brain they would be pushing for a total ban on plastic food and drink containers.  Many drink containers are already made of glass, steel or aluminium, which are fully and easily recylable. One's shopping would get slightly heavier as plastic bottles are lighter than steel or glass ones and aluminium containers do not work well in the larger sizes.  But I guess that glass, steel and aluminium are just boring old stuff that you cannot get a virtue claim out of

As our plastic waste piles up at overstretched facilities or is dumped in Malaysia and Indonesia, the crisis is getting too big to ignore.

Australia has catapulted headfirst into a crisis that’s been building for a long time.

The nation is trapped under a mountain of its own waste, lacking the resources to even begin to deal with it — and plastic is our biggest demon.

While Aussie households have gradually become accustomed to sorting rubbish for recycling, the illusion of success was shattered when China abruptly stopped accepting our refuse in 2017.

The country had been processing 60-70 per cent of the world’s recycling, but when it realised the negative impact on its environment, it suddenly shut the door. India has cut us off, too.

Australia has only a few dozen processing plants compared with China’s thousands. So our bottles, containers and coffee cups have been piling up at overstretched facilities, or shipped off to be illegally burned or buried in Southeast Asia.

“Nobody’s built any infrastructure,” Plastic Forests founder and owner David Hodge told news.com.au. “The Federal Government is a basket case.

“Just imagine there’s no garbage trucks coming down the street any more to pick up rubbish. That’s the situation we’re in. “We are in a crisis.”

After 20 years of relying on China, Australia is suddenly facing a visceral nightmare, as we start to drown in our own materialism.

While we have made some steps towards reducing single-use plastic, we still use around 3.3 billion plastic bags, 2.6 billion coffee cups, 2.4 billion plastic straws and 1.3 billion plastic bottles each year.

Soft plastics cannot be recycled, and when households dump plastic bags in the recycling bin, it acts “like chewing gum going through the machine”, which may have to be stopped and decontaminated.

“When we put it in our recycling bin, where does it go?” asks Mr Hodge. “It’s taken almost a generation to train Australians to recycle.

“It needs this — almost emergency powers to step in and address it.”

NSW is the only state or territory without at least a commitment to ban single-use bags. Major retailers have already cut them out, with Coles and Woolworths driving an 80 per cent drop in the consumption of plastic bags nationwide by December last year.

Many want to see federal action, with Labor promising to ban single-use bags and microbeads by 2021 if it wins the election as part of a $290 million plan to cut waste and clean up the oceans. But the solution to our self-made hell will not be easy.

Australians are becoming aware of their impact, with the ABC’s War on Waste having a huge impact in 2017 after it exposed that we were ranked fifth in the world for generating the most municipal waste. A video of supermarkets dumping edible bananas helped it become the broadcaster’s most successful social media campaign.

Nine’s 60 Minutes this week tackled how recyclable rubbish is being dumped in Indonesia, Vietnam and, in particular, Malaysia, which received more than 71,000 tonnes of our plastic in the last year alone.

But the wake-up call has come late in the day, and answers are desperately needed.

Suggested solutions include replacing our plastics with biodegradable versions, taxing non-recyclable or “virgin” plastics, stockpiling the rubbish while we improve our recycling capabilities or burning plastic to create energy.

All of these ideas come with their own costs and challenges. Mr Hodge says he’s concerned the Government will rush headlong into burning plastic for electricity — a hugely expensive energy source — when it could focus on investing in the “circular economy” and creating jobs in the process.

We are living in what he calls a “DUD economy” — Dig it up, Use it, Dispose of it. Most things don’t work like that: more often, water, food and materials are part of a cycle.

“Everybody’s trying to do everything as cheaply as possible, it’s not long-term sustainability,” warns Mr Hodge. “It’s just an enormously expensive fuel.

“We want to keep plastic as plastic.”

Companies are now manufacturing garden furniture, bollards, park benches and cable insulation from recycled plastic. Plastic Forests has found a way to create a mini wheel stop from plastic film using a grant from NSW Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waste Less Recycle More” $802 million initiative.

Australia needs smart investment, clear thinking and innovative ideas to deal with the monumental challenge. This catastrophe may be the wake-up call we need.


Concern about Labor party wage dictates

Weekend work is a major avenue that poor people use to get ahead but Labour policy on "penalty" rates will keep a lot of businesses closed on the weekend that could otherwise open.  Larger cafes, for instance, may have to close, leaving small family-run ethnic businesses to provide the services and take the customers' money -- and they rarely hire outside the family.  I already use such services a lot. The Vietnamese are particularly good. 

As usual, the Labor party never looks further ahead than the length of its nose.  Their ideas hurt the poor rather than helping them.  But I guess that it is elite concerrns that move them these days, not the interests of the workers.  It is being able to dictate to people that gives them their kicks

One of Australia's leading business lobby groups is urging crossbench senators not to pass any industrial relations changes if Parliament sits before the Senate changes over.

The Australian Industry Group fears the possibility that the next government, particularly if Labor wins the election, may try to hurry industrial relations changes through the existing Senate before senators elected in the May 18 vote take their places on July 1.

The possibility arises because while members of Parliament are sworn in once results are officially declared new senators will only commence their terms on July 1.

This means there may be a short period in June during which there is a new government in control of the House of Representatives while the current Senate remains in place.

"Many of the changes that have been proposed by one or both of the major parties would have major adverse impacts on businesses, employees and the broader labour market."

Ai Group wants penalty rate cuts to stay

One key issue of concern to the Ai Group is Labor's proposal to wind back Sunday and public holiday penalty rate cuts instituted by a ruling of the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

A recent analysis by the Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work found that the changes would cost employees in the affected retail, hospitality, accommodation and pharmacy sectors about $8 million on Sundays and $16 million on public holidays.

Wage cut could backfire

Businesses are hoping to profit from the Sunday penalty rate cut, but their workers are also ultimately their customers.

The centre said that, for example, affected employees working over the 10-day Easter-Anzac Day period — which many took off — were $80 million worse off than they would have been before the cut to penalty rates.

Mr Willox said he believed that Labor's commitment to rolling back the penalty rate cut within 100 days of taking office involved putting forward the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Take-home Pay) Bill 2017, which would limit the FWC's ability to make any changes to awards likely to reduce the take-home pay of employees.

"What is the point in having an independent umpire if the umpire is only able to rule in favour of one of the parties?" Mr Willox asked rhetorically. "The bill makes a mockery of the notion of having an independent tribunal to maintain awards."

The Ai Group has also expressed concerns about a number of changes recommended by the Government's Migrant Workers' Taskforce being considered by both the Coalition and Labor.

These include a national labour hire licensing scheme to regulate companies that provide workers, particularly in the horticulture, cleaning, security and meat processing industries.

Labor is proposing additional regulation that would require labour hire companies to provide wages and conditions no less favourable than the wages and conditions provided by the firms that are using their services to their own in-house employees.

"Taking away the flexibility that labour hire businesses and their clients need would reduce productivity, competitiveness and employment," Mr Willox warned the crossbench senators.

Criminal penalties 'would discourage investment'

The Ai Group is also arguing against another recommendation of the Migrant Workers' Taskforce, that criminal penalties should be introduced for serious and deliberate breaches of workplace laws.

Mr Willox warned that criminal proceedings would slow down the compensation of employees for back-pay they were owed and that there had already been a substantial increase in financial penalties for workplace law breaches.

"Implementing criminal penalties for wage underpayments would discourage investment, entrepreneurship and employment growth," he added.

The Ai Group has also expressed concerns about Labor's policy proposals to raise the minimum wage to a "living wage", tighten the definition of a casual employee, abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, make it more difficult for employers to unilaterally apply to terminate an expired enterprise agreement and introduce some degree of industry-wide bargaining in certain sectors.

Mr Willox said all of these significant industrial relations changes should first be considered by the relevant Senate committee, a ministerial consultative council with industry and unions, as well as discussed with state and territory governments.


'A free ride for billionaires': Luxury cars including Maseratis and Rolls-Royces are among those set to AVOID Bill Shorten's $5,000 tax plan to slash emissions

More Leftist idiocy

Luxury cars such as Maseratis, Rolls-Royces, and Lamborghinis would avoid a price hike under Bill Shorten's plan to dramatically increase the number of electric vehicles on the road.

However, the price tag of popular family cars such as the Ford Ranger, Holden Commodore, Toyota Carolla, and Mazda CX-5 could see an increase of up to $5,000 as manufacturers try to meet Labor's emissions targets.

If elected into power next month, Labor vows that electric cars will make up half of all new vehicle purchases by 2030, a huge increase from the 0.2 per cent share they have now.

Manufacturers would be forced to push sales of electric cars while high emissions vehicles would be taxed. 

The proposal has been slammed as a 'free ride' for the rich, with manufacturers that sell less than 2,500 cars a year in Australia ruled exempt from the policy under Climate Change Authority advice.

Companies that sold fewer than 2,500 cars last year include Alfa Romeo with 1,279 purchased, followed by 642 Maseratis, 241 Ferraris, and 208 Bentleys.

Aston Martin sold 167 cars, followed by 134 Lamborghinis, 88 McLarens, and 40 Rolls-Royces.

To increase the sale of electric cars, Labor is also considering special transit lanes, waiving registration fees, and parking benefits.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said Labor's electric vehicle policy is unfairly targeting families and tradies who would be taxed extra for buying popular car models.

'Labor wants to give a free ride to billionaires whose high-end sports cars and ultra-luxury vehicles won't be hit by Bill Shorten's new car tax,' Mr Taylor said.

'Bill Shorten and Labor would force Australian families and tradies to pay up to $5000 more for a new Mazda and HiLux, but would give those who can afford high-end sports cars and ultra-luxury vehicles a break. It doesn't make sense,' he said. 

Labor argues that while there may be some upfront costs, motorists could save up to $500 a year in petrol expenses.

'Labor's policy saves motorist hundreds of dollars a year in petrol costs. It's not just Labor saying that — the government's own report says that,' Opposition climate change spokesperson Mark Butler said last week.

Climate change and emissions targets are becoming a focus of the election campaign with Australian going to the polling booths on May 18.


Invisible Shorten gets brush from campaign flyers

Bill Shorten has been airbrushed from campaign material in at least 27 federal seats, about half of them hotly contested marginals, as Labor works to counter the Opposition Leader's poor personal rating among voters.

Campaign material distributed by Labor candidates in nine Queensland seats — including letters, flyers and postal voting applications — does not contain a single mention or photograph of Mr Shorten.

They include the ultra-marginal seat of Capricornia, held by assistant minister and Nationals MP Michelle Landry with a margin of 0.6 per cent; Petrie, held by Liberal MP Luke Howarth (1.6 per cent); and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s seat of Dickson, (1.7 per cent). Mr Shorten is not mentioned in material being circulated by Labor’s candidate for the seat of Dawson, Belinda Hassan, held by embattled Nationals MP George Christensen with a margin of 3.4 per cent. Or in Bonner, Brisbane, Lilley or Moreton.

Instead, candidates are opting for stock images of doctors, tradies and themselves in the local area.

Mr Shorten has also apparently been shunned by his own frontbench, not rating a mention by deputy leader Tanya Plibersek in Sydney, Linda Burney in Barton or Terri Butler in the marginal seat of Griffith (1.4 per cent).

A Labor source told The Australian that all content had to be approved by the party's national campaign headquarters before being distributed.

The source hinted that distributing material that did not mention Mr Shorten was a deliberate strategy directly related to his ­unpopularity.

The latest Newspoll has Mr Shorten sitting on a net satisfaction rating of minus 14 with 37 per cent of those surveyed satisfied with his performance and 51 per cent dissatisfied.

In NSW, the Labor leader isn't featured in campaign material from at least seven electorates, including marginals Gilmore, Lindsay and Robertson.

Despite handpicking neurosurgeon Brian Owler, Mr Shorten does not appear in Labor’s Bennelong flyers.

A letter from Labor Senate leader Penny Wong to voters in the South Australian seat of Boothby, a Liberal seat with a margin of 2.7 per cent, references the “united, stable Labor team” but not Mr Shorten. Instead, it has a picture of Senator Wong alongside Labor’s South Australian Senate candidates.

In Victoria, Mr Shorten has been left out of six Labor campaigns, including in outgoing Jobs Minister Kelly O’Dwyer's seat of Higgins, which is expected to see swings away from the Coalition and could be picked up by Labor.

In the neighbouring seat of Dunkley, held by Liberal Chris Crewther but notionally a marginal Labor seat on a 1 per cent margin after redistributions, there is also no hint of the Labor leader.

Justine Keay, Labor’s candidate for Braddon in Tasmania who holds her seat with a margin of 1.7 per cent, has opted for a photograph of herself alongside Labor deputy Ms Plibersek.

Labor candidate for the safe Greens seat of Melbourne Luke Creasey has not one but two photographs of himself with Ms Plibersek alongside the quote: “If you want a better and fairer future, vote Labor for a change of government.”

Even Mr Shorten’s closest friends have left him off their campaign material. His Victorian factional ally Rob Mitchell doesn’t have a single mention or picture of him on his flyers. The backbencher who holds the seat of McEwen by a 6 per cent margin only mentions a “Labor government” and the party’s “Fair go for Australia”.


 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

No comments: