Thursday, September 24, 2020

Shifting Leftist climate policies

If you don’t like Labor’s climate policies, just wait a few months. They’re bound to change.

They’ve been changing since 2007, when Kevin Rudd identified global warming as “the great moral challenge” of our generation. Labor threw him out just three years later. Rudd as Prime Minister was a challenge too great even for his own Labor colleagues.

Replacement PM Julia Gillard’s flexible climate policies doomed her from the start. Just days before the 2010 election, Gillard famously declared there would be “no carbon tax” under her leadership.

To a certain extent, Gillard kept that promise. It’s just that Labor outsourced leadership and climate policy to the Greens, with whom Labor briefly formed a ruinous partnership.

“It was the Greens who put this on the table after the election,” then-Greens leader Christine Milne said in 2011, referring to the carbon tax. “It’s part of our agreement with the Prime Minister.”

Labor was noticeably quiet on climate change in 2016. Running against PM Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten found other issues more compelling. So did voters, as results showed.

Barely half a per cent of Shorten’s campaign launch speech that year covered climate concerns, and even then only in generalities (“we want real action on climate change”, “we choose renewable energy”).

It almost worked. Shorten missed out by a single seat, leading to Turnbull’s celebrated Night of the Long Sulk and the saddest victory speech in Australian political history.

Labor should have learned from that outcome. Instead, Shorten in 2019 went full rapture. “Ignoring climate change is simply not an answer,” the then-Labor leader declared.

But it might be if the question is: “How do we win a federal election?”

“Labor is committed to reducing Australia’s [carbon dioxide] pollution by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero pollution by 2050,” Shorten continued.

His campaign speech that year was loaded with climate talk, up to 6.6 per cent from .5 in the previous campaign.

“I promise all of those Australians who want action on climate change, and I promise the young people in particular, all Australians: Labor will stand its ground,” Shorten said. “No retreat on real action on climate change.”

Shorten dismissed as “dumb” any questions about the cost of his climate promises and otherwise carried on like Greta Thunberg with slightly fewer personality disorders. And Labor lost big time.

A funny thing happened recently to Labor’s commitment to a 45 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. It’s completely disappeared from the party’s draft policy platform.

The ground upon which Labor stands has shifted once more. A climate change retreat is underway.

“It’s all about the jobs after COVID. It’s all about the jobs,” Shorten, now the former leader, told Nine this month. “In all seriousness, that’s what I think.”

Current Labor leader Anthony Albanese would be wise to adopt “it’s all about the jobs” as a party directive. He’d find a receptive audience among voters who’d appreciate a viable non-Coalition option.

The suburbs and regions are loaded with swing voters who no longer swing because Labor isn’t swingworthy. That’s why Labor’s primary vote in 2019 looked like Joe Biden’s score in a Sudoku tournament.

Those same voters are increasingly wary of squishy Libs who agree with the global climate agenda. If Albanese wants to become a John Curtin figure rather than bring down the curtains on Labor, he’ll find that path in pro-jobs, pro-manufacturing policies.

Of course, that will mean surrendering the inner-city vote to the Greens. But so what? The Liberals don’t win inner-city seats, yet they keep winning elections.

Besides, on current trends our inner city areas are probably only a few years away from turning into our own versions of leftist-ransacked Portland, Oregon. Smart residents should escape now while their houses can still be sold with intact windows and at least one floor that isn’t ablaze.

“Our world is on fire, the Liberals are pouring fuel on the flames and Labor is egging them on,” Greens leader Adam Bandt claims. “Under Anthony Albanese, Labor risks becoming just as bad for the climate as the Liberals.”

Translation: Under Anthony Albanese, Labor risks becoming electable. Some within Labor remember what happened when their party last followed Greens instructions.

Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon, among quite a few of his less-public colleagues, would prefer to win. Labor can do so by shunning the Greens and wedging the Coalition.

The coronavirus gives Labor some cover here. As Shorten put it: “It’s all about the jobs after COVID.”

Labor can justify throwing out all of its climate nonsense — not just the 2030 target, but everything — because the extreme demands of a post-COVID recovery demand it be so.

The Coalition’s enviro faction, and party heavyweights who give that faction credibility, would be absolutely stumped by a vote-scoring populist jobs-over-climate push by Labor.

They’d be blindsided. And, after 2022, they’d be gone.

Imagine a party founded on the ideals of working-class advancement actually committing itself to … working-class advancement. It’s an idea so crazy that it might actually work


Coalition’s NBN backflip will cost billions of dollars more

Just seven years after Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull scrapped Labor’s original national broadband rollout to deliver superfast speeds to the family home, it’s back.

Two million Australian households will be able to demand fibre-to-the-home internet by 2023 in suburbs across Australia under the Morrison Government’s new plan to be unveiled today.

It follows widespread concerns during the coronavirus pandemic over slow internet speeds and millions of Australians were forced to work from home.

The upgrade is expected to deliver a further eight million homes access to broadband speeds of up to one gigabit per second by 2023. Currently the mandatory minimum is 25 Megabits per second.

The only problem is the announcement by the Morrison Government today is billions of dollars more expensive than the original proposal the Coalition scrapped.

Labor was set to spend $45 billion on its original plan, while the Coalition will end up spending $51 billion.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has never stopped complaining about the decision to reverse his original policy, was quick to pounce. “What a mega backflip on the part by Morrison,’’ he said.

“For 7 years they’ve botched my government’s 2009 plan for fibre to the premises, instead wasting billions with fibre to the mythical ‘node’, giving us the worst speeds in the world. Now this! What total policy frauds.”

But the reaction online from internet enthusiasts has been just as brutal on social media with users complaining it was “too late” and “a joke”.

Ten years ago this month, it was former Liberal leader Tony Abbott who promoted Malcolm Turnbull back onto the frontbench with a mission to “demolish” Labor’s NBN.

“The Government is going to invest $43 billion worth of hard-earned money in what I believe is going to turn out to be a white elephant on a massive scale,” Mr Abbott said at the time.

“I’ve already described it as school halls on steroids, and we can be certain the NBN will be to this term of government what pink batts and school halls were to the last term of government.

Mr Abbott, who declared he was “not a tech head”, suggested it was a policy for video gamers and people who wanted to watch home movies.

“We are not against using the internet for all these things, but do we really want to invest $50 billion worth of hard-earned taxpayers’ money in what is essentially a video entertainment system?’’ he said.

After the Liberal Party won the 2013 election, Mr Turnbull was responsible for the policy switch in government.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher insisted today however that the demand among customers who were prepared to pay for superfast internet speeds wasn’t there 7 years ago.

“The 2013 decision by the Coalition to roll out the NBN quickly, then phase upgrades around emerging demand, has served Australia well,” Mr Fletcher said.

“The multi-technology mix was critical to getting the NBN rolled out as quickly as possible.

“When COVID hit, and millions of Australians shifted to working and studying from home, it was vital that we had good broadband as widely available as possible. If we’d stuck with Labor’s plan, it be would have been almost 5 million fewer homes.”

But Mr Fletcher said the connection would only be built if a customer ordered a high-speed plan, but there would be no upfront connection charge.

“Very importantly, it will be based on the principle of demand,” Mr Fletcher said.

“So we’ll roll the fibre down the street, but then the fibre lead into the home will only be built when there’s a customer order.”

Under the plan, the Morrison Government will also announce 130 zones including Rockhampton, Bunbury, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Mt Gambier and Devonport for upgrades with more to follow.

The zones were designated areas where there was a density of businesses within a “reasonable distance” of existing NBN infrastructure.

“For the first time, businesses outside capital city centres within these business fibre zones will have access to CBD zone wholesale prices, driving annual cost savings of between $1200 and $6000,” Mr Fletcher said.

But Labor’s communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said the new plan will involve duplicating both cost and time, to connect Australian businesses with fibre after the Liberals left them behind with copper.

“After spending $51 billion on a second-rate network, and wasting seven years, it turns out fibre is what Australian businesses needed all along,’’ she said.

“Labor welcomes this step and surely people are wondering — what on earth was the point of spending $51 billion of taxpayers’ dollars on the Liberals’ second-rate copper network to begin with?

“This has meant Australian taxpayers have paid more for a network that does less, and more money is now required to play catch up.”


Queensland Health IT bungle leaves hospital low on supplies, costs taxpayers $33m to fix, says Auditor-General

Government medicine at work

The bungled rollout of an online ordering system for Queensland hospitals that left doctors without supplies, and vendors not being paid, has cost taxpayers an extra $33 million to fix, according to an investigation by the Auditor-General.

The program was referred for investigation by the State Opposition last year, which claimed staff were running out of critical supplies and vendors were refusing to deliver stock because they weren’t getting paid.

The Auditor-General found $540 million worth of vendor invoices were paid late in the first three months after the new system went live.

It also confirmed hospitals had trouble ordering supplies in the right quantity, and discovered 14 out of 16 hospital and health services across the state felt the system wasn’t working as expected.

The Auditor-General’s report said fixing the issues of the IT bungle had come at a significant cost in time, resources and dollars, including to taxpayers.

“Not all costs can be quantified, but an extra $33.5 million was spent to go live and to provide heightened support to entities over the four-month hypercare and transition period,” the report said.

At the time it was referred for investigation, sources had told the ABC that health staff were having to ration some of their supplies because stock was running low.

Shadow Health minister Ros Bates also said, “nurses having to put Band-Aids on the corporate bank card is absolutely appalling. Last week I heard nurses were actually buying food for patients from Woolworths”.

The report said Queensland Health had indicated the system failures, “had little to no adverse impact on patient care,” but the department had underestimated the compounding issues, pre-delivery.

Staff, managers not prepared for system

It found both staff and managers weren’t prepared for the system to go live and as a result, system performance affected productivity.

“Entities reported low completion rates for user training. Users had poor understanding of their responsibilities and the system’s processes,” the report said.

“Chief executives endorsed their entities’ readiness to go live, with caveats, although none had fully completed their readiness activities.”

Health Minister Steven Miles said he believed the report found the system had been important, and necessary. “It by and large indicates that the process was managed well,” he said. “Of course there are recommendations about how it could be done better.”

Two recommendations were made by the Auditor-General.

One was for redesigning the governance and accountability frameworks around project delivery, and a second asking for a cost-benefit analysis to develop a system that better monitored stock levels and consumption in real time.

The latest bungle comes a decade after Queensland Health’s disastrous payroll system failure, where thousands of staff were overpaid by millions of dollars.

That scandal ended up costing taxpayers more than $1 billion and ended the careers of several senior bureaucrats.


‘Free speech isn’t free’ and Australians are ‘failing to defend it’: Credlin

Sky News host Peta Credlin says free speech is something which has been protected in blood by past Australian generations, but sadly the people of today take it for granted and fail to defend it.

“Even in my lifetime the change in what we can say, write, even read has been diminished,” Ms Credlin said. “And the threat just seems to be accelerating.

“Free speech isn’t free, it’s something that’s been protected in blood by Australians in generations past who have fought in our name.

“To give us the sort of liberty today – free speech today – that sadly I think many of us take for granted, and even worse are failing to defend.”

Ms Credlin spoke with Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler, who was hauled in front of the Tasmanian Equal Opportunity Commission after publishing an article about what she labelled the “reality of biological sex”.

“I’m certainly not going to be backing down on my views around women’s sports and women’s sex-based rights,” Ms Chandler said. “Nor will I be apologising for holding a view and advocating a view that the majority of Australian’s agree with.

“This is a ridiculous situation we find ourselves in, where unelected bureaucrats … are able to put people through the legal ringer, such as myself … in an effort to shut down debate about genuine public policy matters.

“It is deeply concerning in terms of the effects that this is going to have on free speech in this country.”


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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