Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Albanese reveals climate change review

After being out of power since 2013 and losing an "unlosable" election, they have cause to change their policies

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has not ruled out scrapping Bill Shorten’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030, saying the party would now re-examine its promises on climate change.

Mr Albanese and his climate spokesman Mark Butler both shied away from recommitting to the target on Sunday, amid frontbench division on how ambitious Labor’s 2022 election policy on climate change should be.

“(The 45 per cent target) was a commitment that was given in 2015,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney.

“We will examine our short and medium and long term commitments on where we go on climate change but we won’t re-examine our principles. We want to work towards zero emissions by the middle of this century.”

Mr Butler said any new emissions reduction target would still be higher than the Prime Minister’s Paris Agreement aim of 26 to 28 per cent.

“It’s clear 26-28 per cent is fundamentally inconsistent with the obligation to keep global warming way below 2 degrees.” Mr Butler told ABC News.

Asked if he was prepared to restate a commitment to Labor’s 45 per cent target, he would not be drawn.

“What I have said is all our policies are up for review exactly what medium-term targets, numerically are, whether it’s 2030 or 2035 given the passage of time is something we’ll engage over in the next couple of years.

“People can be assured it would be an medium term target utterly consistent with the best scientific advice about how we meet those commitments in the Paris Agreement and keep global warming well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts around 1.5.

“That is our generation’s responsibility to our children around our grandchildren and a responsibility or an obligation really that this government is simply shying away from.”

Former deputy leader Tanya Plibersek was the only Labor MP on Thursday to say she backed an “ambitious” target, following revelations­ in The Australian that the party’s 45 per cent target could be scrapped and a stronger focus given to its 2050 net zero pollution target.

The Greens and environmental groups slammed any weakening of the target, with Greens leader Richard Di Natale accusing Labor of “caving in to the coal, oil and gas lobby”.

Labor’s assistant Treasury and ­financial services spokesman ­Stephen Jones said the party would struggle to meet a 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 if Anthony Albanese won government at the next election.

Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the ALP should devise climate change polic­ies that would ensure Aust­ralia met its Paris obligations “without doing damage to our economy”.

The comments came as Mr Albanese criticised the government for failing to deal with the drought, after revelations swathes of NSW could run out of water in the next six months.

“The government needs to next week actually come up with a plan for the economy, they need to come up with a plan for the drought,” he said.

“We have a circumstance whereby Dubbo is due to run out of water by November, so the government needs to come up with a drought strategy.

“It’s about time they introduced legislation to deal with the challenges Australia faces rather than just ‘wedge-islation’ to just play politics.”

On Saturday, Nationals leader and Deputy PM Michael McCormack used the party’s federal council meeting to launch the National Water Grid Authority, a $100 million organisation to help secure Australia’s long-term water supplies.

It will bring together scientists and harness local knowledge to shape national water infrastructure policy and identify opportunities for new projects. “It’s has been too long since we built a major dam in this country,” Mr McCormack said.

“This government is establishing the National Water Grid to take out the state- based politics and insert the science with a national-based approach to water security for Australia’s future.” The government has committed to 21 water infrastructure projects with a total construction value of $2 billion.


Lambie’s presence is a good thing


While I am certainly not an unabashed fan of Jacqui Lambie, her presence in the chamber is undoubtedly a good thing. She once pointed out that she was the only person in the entire parliament who had been on the dole. She had experienced just how tough it is to pay for rent, electricity, food and clothing while living on a pittance. Politicians talk endlessly about it when, like my good self, they have never scrimped and saved to buy their kids a Christmas present let alone three square meals every day.

Those at the bottom end of the scale need their champions to fight for them because few can do it themselves effectively. My father was a union secretary who represented mail sorters and postmen, the lowest paid workers of them all. He was adamant that I would be a someone later in my life and he drilled into me that the little people should never be forgotten when the economic cake was being cut into pieces. Both sides of politics share that view but try to achieve it in different ways. By and large our system works. We do have a safety net for those who drink, take drugs or suffer from mental or physical conditions that make working difficult or impossible.

While some have argued that society should simply abandon drug addicts and alcoholics, that can only serve to be stupid as well as cruel. An addict will go to any length to fulfil their desperate needs and if that means violence then for many of them, so be it. I am an avid supporter of injecting rooms where there is at least some scope to ensure that clean needles are being used. For those from whom addicts can expect no compassion, injecting rooms might seem a waste of money but if they can help keep a lid on runaway medical costs then a favour will be done for us all.

My first encounter with drug addiction occurred when I was not yet 20. A member of my local ALP branch opened up to me about living with his brother who was a full-on heroin addict. If belongings weren’t nailed down tightly, his brother would take it and pawn it. The daughter of a woman I knew was a hopeless addict drawn into prostitution. While Pretty Woman tales are rare, she met a German guy while performing her services for him and she was whisked off to Germany, married, had a couple of kids and lived happily ever after. I have also known some who have died ignominious lonely deaths in back alleys frequented only by the desperate and the vermin.

For all the talk about tough enforcement, drugs are easier to buy now than at any time in my life. When the profits are so massive, there will always be a customs or police officer who will look the other way for some consideration. Wouldn’t it be a better world if there were more police focusing on violent criminals than individuals using soft drugs? I am not, nor will I ever advocate using marijuana, because of its very serious side effects, but I wouldn’t occupy police time trying to win a war which was lost a long time ago.


Muslim student slams ‘Islamophobic’ lecture content

There ARE millions of Muslim extremists.  They are murdering one another all the time.

A Melbourne TAFE student says she was shocked to see a “sickening” quote from a prominent anti-Islam activist suggesting up to 300 million Muslims are “radicals who want to destroy and murder” included in online lecture materials.

Tayeba Quddus, 26, told the ABC she was left feeling “disempowered” to discover the quote from Lebanese-born American conservative Brigitte Gabriel in a lecture slide for a unit at the Holmesglen Institute focused on “managing diversity in a culturally competent environment”.

The unit was part of the TAFE’s Certificate IV in Youth Work and Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs.

“Given what happened in Christchurch, and a huge movement we have of far-right extremism and political campaigns that seek to vilify most Muslims, within that climate it’s not very helpful to be discussing these things in a way that seems like it supports these ideas,” Ms Quddus told the ABC.

“This isn’t about free speech or trying to police what people are saying. I think it’s more a matter of the teacher publishing overtly fearmongering material online that has no evidence, and the fact that that’s completely inappropriate for (the lecturer) to have done.”

The slide, titled “Most Muslims are peaceful”, referred to a YouTube video of Ms Gabriel on a panel at The Heritage Foundation in 2017 where she was “asked a question that related to the peaceful Muslim majority”.

“And her response could not have been any more perfect,” the slide said. “It is true — not all Muslims are bad. Most are not. But the fact is 180 million to 300 million people are radicals who want to destroy and murder. You can’t ignore those numbers.”

Ms Quddus told the ABC she had already been disturbed by a classroom discussion earlier in the year where students shared false cliches about Muslims. She complained to her teachers but they initially left the material online.

She then took her complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. Shortly afterwards, Holmesglen Institute pulled down the material and apologised to Ms Quddus.

The TAFE, which has eight campuses across Melbourne, said in a statement the “inappropriate” content had been uploaded to the student portal but had not yet been delivered in lectures.

“We have called the complainant to acknowledge their concerns and issued an unreserved apology for the offence caused,” the statement said. “The teachers involved are being suspended until the investigation concludes.”

Holmesglen Institute says it is now conducting a “more thorough analysis of the context of the lesson itself within the unit is being carried out to ensure all content is appropriate”.

“While we greatly regret the offence caused to our student, we have taken steps to rectify that offence,” Holmesglen Institute chief executive Mary Faraone said.

“Furthermore, Holmesglen is using this incident as a catalyst to further review its professional development in diversity, cultural safety, and competency with the Institute’s educators.”

Ms Faraone added, “We welcome the opportunity to receive feedback, to assess it, and to act upon it in order to improve processes. This is an ongoing undertaking and we want to ensure that all students, staff and broader stakeholders of the Holmesglen community experience learning, in an inclusive way, and in a place that is committed to positive action.”


Social media not the biggest threat

Attempts to control it could be even more destructive

Social media has been blamed for an epidemic of damaging misinformation that has poisoned political discourse. But the real threat to free speech and political debate comes from over-zealous and ill-advised regulation.

Mainstream opinion insists social media has damaged democracy by creating a polarised, toxic environment devoid of nuance and fact.

Concern is such that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has recommended digital platforms implement a code to counter disinformation, and a regulatory body (like the ACMA) oversee platforms’ “voluntary initiatives…to enable users to identify reliability, trustworthiness, and source of news content.”

Regulatory oversight into misinformation will likely create more problems, and compliance costs will restrict start-ups by creating a huge barrier for entry.

Having sources rated as ‘trustworthy’ has the potential to risk disadvantaging smaller, independent news outlets, as such a designation would presumably favour well-established outlets and brands.

Given Australia’s preoccupation with media concertation, this could, ironically, lead to less viewpoint diversity.

Not only will regulation most likely be ineffective, the ACCC’s concern is based on a problem which is overstated and misunderstood.

As expert in internet governance Professor Milton Mueller has argued, there is the perception social media is the cause of problems such as misinformation. Whereas, far more likely, these technologies have created a hyper-awareness of an already existent problem.

The concern about fake news is entwined with the idea that social media creates ‘filter-bubbles’ or ‘echo-chambers.’ That is, users retreat into online communities and only interact with people who share their views.

However, the extent to which this happens is unclear. Some researchers suggest online communities re-invigorate public debate by democratising communication, and exposing people to a variety of online communities.

‘Filter-bubbles’ are also not exclusive to the online world. People who consume a limited number of offline sources risk only receiving information which re-affirms their views.

Tech companies have issues they need to, and mostly are, addressing. But, the biggest threat to free speech and democracy comes from excessive and unnecessary regulation.


 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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