Friday, October 23, 2009

Final Post - least for now

Dear readers, thanks for visiting the L Party, this will be my last post, least for a while. Present priority and interest changes have prevailed and piloted me to this decision.

Though it was not the primary reason for beginning this blog, I have admittedly harbored more than a casual interest in entering the political fold by seeking pre-selection or perhaps working in a behind the scenes role. Indeed, the future is still open to this - change is a constant.

Only recently, I weighed up the question in a broad mode taking into account a whole gamut of factors including but not limited to, the impending cost to family in terms of the time and effort required, the potential loss of privacy due to my sometimes-audacious nature, and remuneration factors. On that last note, while guarantees go begging, let us assume that I did in future become a Victorian MP. One of my conundrums stems from my present salary as a train driver for the much maligned and not so endeared Connex. Yes, I know, the latter may come as a revelation to those outside my immediate sphere of acquaintances and family. Though I hardly find the role inspiring, it pays well, in my case, pre-tax and pre salary sacrifice earnings fast approaching $110K this financial year. When I compare this to an MP’s base salary of around $124,000 I begin to fathom what Age political reporter Melissa Fyfe meant in an August article, “If you pay peanuts”:

"Victorian MP’s gets a $124,360 base salary … That is about twice the average Australian wage, but it is not an endearing sum to a well-established professional or even a higher-level public servant. The result, some argue, is that only two types of people will go into Parliament: those who think $124,360 is a great wage and have few other prospects of earning that money elsewhere, and those who are independently wealthy".
I am compelled to add, that I am not one of the "two types" that Melissa refers to.

Why did I consider the question so thoroughly you ask? Only a short time ago, I was courted by a party member and official with far more than a common measure of clout. Names are not necessary, let’s just say that this person is part of an influential fold of Melbourne’s inner eastern Liberal party cluster. After two face to face meetings what followed was not exactly a concrete offer, in this game that’s not how it works. Rather, I was presented with a genuine window of opportunity to begin building the necessary bridges – profile – required for a successful tilt at pre-selection at a future date and furthermore, in the electoral seats that really matter. Though I declined the offer this time around, I was and remain, both honored and immensely grateful for having being seen in such light.

Finally, much like my previous blog American Interests, I recognize the role The L Party’s content plays in the larger ecosystem of related insight and information; accordingly, its contents will not be removed from blogosphere just yet.

Therefore, as I continue tendering to the needs of a modern family, which includes pushing trains around Melbourne’s rail grid and pontificating the vicissitudes of politics and the Liberal party, I would be somewhat insincere if I told you that I did not - at least intermittently - feel frustration of the kind felt by a certain, David Larkin.

I rest my oars ...


For those wondering whether Melbourne’s train services will get better when Connex is replaced by Metro Trains in December, the short answer is no. Moreover, here is why. The new company will have to make do with a limited capacity to improve services due to years of government neglect that has resulted in an infrastructure capacity that is limited at best. However, this is only part of the story, that bloated left wing bureau mass known as the Department of Transport and its two of supporting constituent bodies – can you name them? – will ensure that mediocrity prevails behind the glossy facade. A veneer made possible by MTR’s winning a staggering sum of taxpayers’ money - $474 million to run the service per year compared to $398 million for Connex.

I am of the belief that ultimately, it’s the quantity and quality of people that matters most.

In the case of our public transport establishment; it is littered with pretenders and baseless types and nothing is expected to change. At the least, they are grossly hypocritical and in just about all cases, second handers that are great at acting as speed humps for those that do wish to excel. As someone more qualified than me once said:
"How often have we heard it, about being part of a brain based economy where the best assets are your people, but how many leaders appreciate what this means? In the interests of doing something, anything, they create diversions, give the impression that they’re actually doing something, they fool around with the latest management fad, they re-structure, engage in deal making more oft than not, to consolidate their own arrangement … Organization doesn't really accomplish anything. Plans don't accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don't much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great things. In a brain based economy, your best assets are your people. We've heard this expression so often that it's become trite. But how many leaders really "walk the talk" with this stuff? Too often, people are assumed to be empty chess pieces to be moved around by grand viziers, which may explain why so many top managers immerse their calendar time in deal making, restructuring and the latest management fad. How many leaders immerse themselves in the goal of creating an environment where the best, the brightest, the most creative are attracted, retained and - most importantly - unleashed?"
On the question of establishment quantity, one could scale back numbers to the tune of 20% and you would not notice, save saving the taxpayer a bundle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Victorian Government cache of annual reports

It’s not only improper but very wrong, not merely discourteous but out-and-out rude and most certainly contemptuous conduct. I am referring to the Victorian Governments decision to release 300 reports simultaneously; reports that are expected to be tabled in parliament on Thursday.

What is more, Premier John Brumby is out of town and most nearly all his Ministers are scattered throughout the state. It may be politically adept however, it underscores the very tangible level of disrespect the Brumby Government has for its constituents. In the words of Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu:
"There will be hundreds tomorrow and they'll be piled high to the ceiling yet again," adding, "That's just another example of this government not wanting to be transparent or accountable and wanting to do a snow job on Victorians."
This practice of hoarding annual reports and dumping them at once to avoid proper scrutiny may be common practice, but the Victorian Government is expert at it.

3AW launches Our Afghanistan heroes site

We will ever be grateful for all they have done for us, may God bless them all. Lest we forget…

I have always held the greatest respect for our members of the armed forces past and present. Those with the courage to stand against that which threatens the peace and security of this world and ultimately, the way of life we enjoy. They are highly regarded, as General JAMES N. MATTIS, the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation & Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command once wrote, “We Marines would happily storm hell itself with your troops on our right flank.”

In a noble gesture, 3AW has launched a new site “Our Afghanistan heroes” to honor those fighting our war in Afghanistan. On it, you will find just some of the faces that have given the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe and free. The words of Steve - an early site commenter – are most fitting:

They, like our forefathers forge the ideology, freedom of speech & choice, supporting your brothers, sisters & mates which is 'the Australian way'... It is from their sacrifice that we live in the best country in the world & why the rest of us are proud to be Aussie... Never forget what they do for us and lest we forget the fallen ones...
See also: Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SAS): Strengthening the Alliance

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Victoria: "On the move" no more

“So are you saying that we’d be better off under the Libs”? “Ah yes, I am”, and so a discussion with acquaintances concluded on a mid August night this year. In the end, agreeing simply to disagree on the question of a Liberal Government versus a Labor one here in Victoria. With strong conviction, my friends - yes I do have friends that do not see eye to eye with me politically – added, “I don’t remember anything good about Kennett, he killed off teachers, schools, the country, and the railways just about everything.” I tried telling my audience that the cuts were necessary after the economic disaster left by Labor, which included a budget deficit in excess of $2 billion and over $30 billion of public sector debt, how else I added, “Could we reign in the economy without some radical budget cuts.”

After some time I realized my words were to no avail, Labor it seemed was deemed good and righteous, the morally superior body, the socially just, and fairer of the two, a perception that prevailed, in spite of some cold facts in relation to economic management issues.

Originally intending to sway my audience during our planned next get together, over the next few days, I penned some notes about some of the more palpable policy failures of the Bracks- Brumby Labor Government hoping to use such to sway opinion. To some degree it worked however, it must be said, excerpt for perhaps one, my audience seemed to consist of those inbred, casehardened Labor for life political types which constitute some 30% percent of the electorate. It was only in the last few days, while planning a meeting with a local federal branch Chairman that I revisited the observations made in August and decided to post them here, albeit in a more coherent written point form. Hence, a concise and I might add, only partial listing of the Victorian Labor Governments failures.

Education - Victorian students have the lowest basic skills levels in the nation according to OECD’s latest analysis. Three quarters of our 1,250 schools have over $250 million outstanding in maintenance issues. The Brumby Gov’t spends less on students per head than any other state (~$9,800 vs. SA at ~ $13,000)and in spite of high population growth, school enrolments at public schools have fallen since 2001. We spend less on TAFE than any other state and have raised fees for TAFE training at a time when we are supposedly in the midst of the greatest economic crises since the great depression – the significance being, workplace training should be encouraged to maintain employment levels during harsh economic times.

Law and Order - One only has to scan Monday’s papers to know that Victorian crime statistics are flawed and yet the state Gov’t continued to use these figures well into 2009 to peddle the notion that we have the safest streets in Australia. Labor has failed miserably in addressing levels of hooliganism and general crime especially assault, on both our streets and public transport. On a per head basis, we spend less than any other state on police and consequently have fewer police on the field that the other states with patrols falling 20% in the five years to 2007.

Public Transport - As someone in the know, I can reveal firsthand the levels of inadequacy with respect our train system. Shortcomings that include, massive levels of overcrowding, cancellations, delays, and poorly managed and maintained infrastructure. While the Gov’t is all too happy in blaming the service providers they in turn pin the blame on everything else including trade unions, drivers, rolling stock reliability, adverse weather, ill passengers, and trespassers. Fact is, much like our water crises the Gov’t has failed to plan effectively or provide for adequate funding in the management and maintenance of our train system. They have been far too slow when comes to ordering the new much needed trains with only one coming into service this year. Road infrastructure has also failed to keep pace with both economic and population growth resulting in Melbourne now having the slowest evening peak time average speed of any capital city at under 38 km/h.

Water - The Gov’t hopeless inaction during its first 7 years in office has contributed to our present water shortages and will ultimately be the reason why Melbournians will soon pay up to 60% more for water. The result of the inaction is a haphazard response with the hugely unpopular and very expensive desalination plant decision. What is also remarkable is that in spite of our very protracted drought conditions Victorian Labor has invested less per head than all states bar one (SA) over the past two years in water infrastructure

Country - Regional unemployment levels remain unacceptably high and second only to NSW. We have spent less than 50% of the allocated amount under the promised Regional Infrastructure Development Fund ($272 million of $585 million) with less than 2 years remaining on the decade long program. Bushfire prevention has been almost criminal like with constant squabbling over correct levels of fuel reduction in the most bushfire prone areas. Labors burn-off policies have fallen well short of the benchmark. The Gov’t has failed to adhere to the advice provide by a 2008 inquiry into the impact of public land management practices on bushfires as tabled in Parliament in the same year.

Economy - Our economic growth rate is below the national rate and earlier this year Access economics predicted that both the Victorian and NSW economies could actually contract in 2009 Business investment is the weakest of all states on last available figures for 2008. Exports are also well down on other states growing at less than 5% compared to 35, 70, and 38% for some other states. This alone clearly demonstrates Labors gross neglect in terms of maintaining our international competitiveness. Just last year we were the only state to lose jobs as the job market shrank for the first time since, you guessed it, 1992 when we were governed under Kirner. Infrastructure spending has also been less peer head than other states and we will have to significantly increase debt to catch up.

Health - The provision of services has continued to deteriorate with the number of sick patients having to wait for long periods in hospital emergency departments still too high. Almost 1 in 3 Victorians needing semi urgent elective surgery were not seen within 90 days and The Government needs to explain to ordinary Victorians why it sees it fit to conceal and distort hospital performance data.

To the list of mediocrity, we can add waste and mismanagement. Where do I begin? Let’s just say that in its nearly decade of power state Labor has mismanaged major project costs leading to cost blow outs in excess of $6.5 billion – the major offenders being the East link toll way, Myki smartcard, channel deepening, Wimmera- Mallee pipeline and the State library redevelopment to name a few.

With hospital figures manipulated, crime figures inaccurate, ministers accused of corruption in addition to failures in most nearly all major portfolios, state labors ineptitude is cemented. What is even more amazing is that the Gov’ts poor record of service delivery has coincided with a period of unprecedented levels of revenue inflow. The tax grab from stamp duties, land tax, GST funding, payroll tax, gambling tax and new records in speed fine revenue from our roads has resulted in a massive $270 billion windfall for the Victorian Government. Moreover, I have not even mentioned, the Brumby Gov’ts proposed Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution tax that has many landowners screaming as I type. A new tax that labor says will raise yet another 2 billion in revenue over 20 years.

Care to add to the list?

As I see it, the Victorian Labor Government has squandered years of opportunity and I find it shameful that we Liberals have largely failed to hold them to account in a manner fitting of the scope and depth of failure in some key policy areas.

Not surprisingly, not one of my acquaintances bothered to recognize the economic benefits of the Kennett governments capital-works projects, such as the restoration of Parliament House, construction of the Melbourne Museum, the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, the National Gallery of Victoria, refurbishment of the State Library of Victoria, a new Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre and Federation Square, the Docklands redevelopment and Citylink project.

One final note, the Brumby Governments level of spin is almost frenzied; unremittingly we hear (or see) those ads – the one’s ending with the words -"authorized by the Victorian Government Melbourne”? Moreover, how much is this alone costing?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

John Howard: Losing in Afghanistan would embolden the enemy ...

" ... the end game is even less attractive if there is not a greater commitment. the greater the commitment the more likely it is the game will end sooner ... the great worry I have is that we will just drift along unwilling to pull out because that would be an overt admission of failure but unwilling to make a decisive additional commitment ... "

It's time for the President to lead - something he doesn't seem to know how to do - but, when you have troops in the field and the generals ask for reinforcements, you provide them or you go home. I cannot under stand Obama's hesitation in light of comments made in 2008:

“Our bill calls for the redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq so that we can focus more fully on the real war on terror, which is in Afghanistan.”
Said Nancy Pelosi on March 8 of 2007, soon after, both houses of Congress passed a bill for ending the war in Iraq, arguing that it was a distraction from the “real fight.” The opinion implicit in that resolution — that Iraq was a war of choice and, hence, the “wrong” war, while Afghanistan was a war of necessity, thus the “right” war — was echoed by the three leading Democrat candidates for the presidency at the time, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards.

Thus if its the "right war" what is the problem? I suspect that whatever decision is ultimately made will have implications for Australia.

Update: As Dr Geoffrey Garrett founding CEO of the United States Studies Centre and Professor of Political Science at the University of Sydney, rightly pointed out:
Amid all the heady global diplomacy at the United Nations and the G20 last week, one issue was conspicuous by its absence - Afghanistan. The reason is clear. Afghanistan is now Barack Obama's war, a war other world leaders want to distance themselves from, and a war over which Obama is paralysed ...
Read the rest here

Monday, October 05, 2009

Say "NO" to an ETS

I was recently asked to explicate my support for the Liberal Party. As always my response was both fluid and spontaneous, describing the party as the foremost political force that, least historically though hardly perfectly, best upholds conservative ideology and Judeo-Christian values that are, for the most part, consistent with my own. Furthermore, I added, Liberals, though perhaps not all, believe in economic liberalism where the role of markets and competitive forces alike, are left to dictate the strength of the economy and the state merely provides the framework in which markets can operate effectively with minimal interference, pertaining or conforming to the principles or practices of laissez faire.

In relation to this last sentence, consider if you will, how an emissions trading scheme runs completely contrary to what the party purportedly stands for. Not least, the Government model proposes to harm the industries in which we have our greatest comparative advantage. Politician’s need ask why we are one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide per head of population? Think coal fired power stations, the mining, and export of coal and minerals. Moreover, I have not even touched on anything about minimizing the regulatory burden on Australian business, which, last I read, forms part of the party federal platform. I also expressed regret that the ETS discussion has not sufficiently included debate in a manner consistent with the platform as opposed to just, ‘denier’s vs. believer’s ideology.

Also disappointing is how Malcolm Turnbull has allowed himself to be lured into the wrong debate, that of accepting the proposed ETS but simply adding amendments in preference to exploring new lines of discourse even if, and I say this unwillingly, based on the notion that carbon is causing the problem. Those who have visited this blog in the past will know that I do not subscribe to anthropogenic contention.

Let us be perfectly clear, based on the present flawed community consensus, if the party resolves to do nothing it is going to pay a heavy price at the polls. However, I firmly believe that consensus will in time shift for at least a couple of reasons:

  • Copenhagen shall not deliver anything other than a new date for a follow up talkfest
  • We will witness an increase in anti-consensus publications and Media/film releases and
  • Climate models gross disagreement with observations & the discrepancy (something that is becoming more evident with each passing year) will in due course garner greater attention and scrutiny of global warming adherents

I expect that the October 18 release of “Not evil just wrong” will serve to alter the playing field whereby robust, and cogent examination will filter through to mainstream 24/7 news/opinion cycles thereby diluting the lefts hold on the debate. Those that have already seen the film have written, “Not evil just wrong” will do for the AGW/Carbon caused/Al-Gore/Kevin Rudd/Penny Wong case, what Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 did for George W. Bush.

In the interim, that is ahead of Copenhagen and the consensus shift to which I refer, fear not the Double-D, for if Liberals fail to fall in line with Malcolm Turnbull then, with or without him, the party must begin crafting and structuring the debate with the purpose of contributing to viable policy options. At least provisionally, and in the interests of commonsense and effective PR, there is nothing wrong with exploring policies that seek to curtail greenhouse emissions without the tax/regulatory burdens of an ETS. They could for example, investigate some of the solutions recently proposed by a panel at the Copenhagen Consensus on Climate which opposes ETS in favour of technology based climate engineering solutions. I feel compelled to add, the expert panel included three (3) Nobel Laureates, which reviewed 21 research papers submitted by climate economists. See the 11 solutions proposed here - I am not advocating any of the solutions, what I am doing is highlighting alternatives to an ETS.

I honestly admire Malcolm Turnbull’s latest posturing, there are leadership qualities within, but the admiration stops well short of subscribing to his progressive views on climate change. At any rate, Malcolm’s recent bravado will finally bring the party’s climate change debate to the fore. I say to any Liberal still vacillating, consider the very recent (posted: October 01, 2009) words of Ross McKitrick, a professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph, and coauthor of Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming:
I have been probing the arguments for global warming for well over a decade. In collaboration with a lot of excellent coauthors I have consistently found that when the layers get peeled back, what lies at the core is either flawed, misleading or simply non-existent. The surface temperature data is a contaminated mess with a significant warm bias, and as I have detailed elsewhere the IPCC fabricated evidence in its 2007 report to cover up the problem. Climate models are in gross disagreement with observations, and the discrepancy is growing with each passing year. The often-hyped claim that the modern climate has departed from natural variability depended on flawed statistical methods and low-quality data. The IPCC review process, of which I was a member last time, is nothing at all like what the public has been told: Conflicts of interest are endemic, critical evidence is systematically ignored and there are no effective checks and balances against bias or distortion.

I get exasperated with fellow academics, and others who ought to know better, who pile on to the supposed global warming consensus without bothering to investigate any of the glaring scientific discrepancies and procedural flaws. Over the coming few years, as the costs of global warming policies mount and the evidence of a crisis continues to collapse, perhaps it will become socially permissible for people to start thinking for themselves again.

Fascinating how the next party room meeting falls just 48 hours after the, “Not evil just wrong” premiere. Let’s hope that many party powerbrokers, MP’s, Senators and members alike, view the film ahead of the meeting, and who knows, it might just, for all intents and purposes loom as a de-facto leadership ballot.

Stay firm, say no to an ETS in all its forms and guises. Let us begin steering the debate away from those who seek to enhance the present social democratic project. Progressive policies that put Government at the coronary centre of the economy reveal the lefts way of centralizing power in the hands of a few who claim to know what is best for us; all of us!

You may also wish to read:
Climate Change: Modelling the Modelers and Novel Science

Monday, September 28, 2009

Foreign Policy Primer

Much has been made of the success of Rudd’s G20 forum success and in particular, his efforts to enhance the forums authority as the main vehicle for developing global economic policies at the expense of the G8 group. Unlike the latter, the G20 members account for some two-thirds of the world's population and 85 per cent of its economy. Our Prime Minister may see it fit to expand the cooperative multilateral base of existing economic forums, which sits right with his visions of greater interconnectedness and cooperative methodologies in relation to global macroeconomics and more loosely, greater spread of international state power. However, what is the long-term price for shifting the geopolitical-economic power architecture away from the present order? That is, away from the established power circle of which present day America is at the helm. Needless to add, Obama’s present foreign policy directions may add to the coming storm …

With this in mind, I present a thought provoking read taken from the Sublineoblivion blog that speculates on how the first half of this century might pan out.

In conclusion, the geopolitical winds are shifting. There is a gathering storm that will sweep away the current liberal globalized order, and a new reality of econo-political blocs competing for markets, land and resources will take its place. The root cause is the accelerating fiscal and economic collapse of the system’s underwriter, the United States. (The even deeper reason would be that limited oil and energy reserves would be more efficiently used in China to make things than spent on American gas-guzzlers).

However, these changes will appear to observers as an incomprehensible cascade of failings of the international system and spreading chaos: jihadi successes (mounting losses in Afghanistan, continuing terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda’s “franchises”, the possible collapse – or radicalization (Turkey?) – of moderate Muslim governments); state collapses (peak in world food prices, out-of-control insurgencies, falling revenues from energy exports and climatic catastrophes like drought – watch Pakistan, Mexico); the confrontation with Iran (whether or not it ends with a Middle Eastern war, this saga is only beginning to get played out); the Russian resurgence (may be manifested in renewed expansionism in the post-Soviet space – Georgia, Crimea and the Baltics are potential flashpoints – and the race of countries like Germany, Finland, Turkey and / or Japan to reach some kind of accommodation with Russia, contrary to US interests) and the continuing secular ascent of China (due to its gradual nature, this is unlikely to result in any “big events” (although a flareup over Taiwan or the South China Sea is always a possibility) – that said, in the longer run this is going to be one of the most significant geopolitical trends).

By 2019, we will look out upon a new world as different from 1989, as 1944 was from 1914, or 1991 was from 1961. A partially revived American superpower will face a real “peer competitor” in China, though their competition will be restrained by domestic troubles and a shared concern for global stability and the future of industrial civilization. Many of the world’s least developed regions will have begun to fall apart, forsaking the torturing lights of civilization for the comforting darkness of simplistic barbarism. The European Union will have fallen apart under the stresses of its contradictions and its constituent nations will have reverted to their traditional balance-of-power rivalries, while Japan decides it would be better off band wagoning with China. A more insular, nationalist and powerful Russia is a wildcard, either in the throes of demographic and economic stagnation – or enjoying new, unprecedented power accruing from its energy wealth and warming landmass. By then, the clouds will be gathering for an even greater storm – the point sometime in 2030-2050 when the limits to growth make themselves really felt, and industrial civilization falls into its moment of greatest peril. The shifting winds will have become a gale.
While this may be overstated we are gradually reaching a historical crossroad of great implications with the creation of a world leadership that may not by design, be able to handle the new sketchy order of global internationalism. Asian together with the weaker second world states may enjoy some superficial benefits in the short term, but if traditional western powerhouses fall by the wayside, they may not be able to handle the global and regional problems that may ensue. We must hope that the new collective leadership is not so raw as to let this go unrecognized.

Globalization needs to be kept in check with nation based hierarchical rules based on military and economic power. Let us not rush into eroding the established order with haste, as I argued in 2008, "is it realistic to believe that consensus between nations can maintain order through a system in which states voluntarily abide by rules? History alone would dictate a negative response. States cooperate because there is an in-balance of power between them not the reverse...."

Globalization is, for better or worse, a happening phenomenon that is set to expand. In light of this, and hence, this forms the core of my argument, I call on G8 policymakers to expand the currently narrowly focused grand plan to something far broader like, securing the future in accordance with the existing order by taking control of the process via a, “recalibration of interaction through positive leadership”.

Understandably, globalization has raised some alarm bells with many questioning whether the principle drivers of international affairs are no longer nation states but rather, some sort of evolving worldly system. The problem here is that it assumes a global system that somehow manages itself, when in reality; the enforcement of political and economic needs must always be underpinned by rules to resolve differences and conflicts; only powerful nation states have the resources and authorities to manage/enforce agreements, to deal with international threats and inter-state rivalries. Tomorrow’s all-inclusive global strategy must, apart from the aforementioned challenges and promotions of democratic regimes, address the consequences of unbridled dilution of the present geopolitical and economic order.

America and Globalization: Strategy for a New Century
America and Globalization: Strategy for a New Century - Part 2

Sunday, September 20, 2009

NOT EVIL JUST WRONG - The True Cost of Global Warming Hysteria

"...The world-wide premiere is to be held on October 18, and we already have numerous screenings arranged around Australia, including Federal Parliament..."

" ... Now on the eve of action on proposed legislation to cap CO2 emissions more than ever, cogent and levelheaded reasons as to why global warming theories deserve real scrutiny as opposed to automatic acceptance is imperative ... "

Not Just Evil But Wrong is a feature length documentary which shows how extreme environmentalism is damaging the lives of vulnerable people from the ban on DDT to the campaigns on Global Warming ...

“In the history of science it has often happened that the majority was wrong and refused to listen to a minority that later turned out to be right.”

Behold the words the now retired American Physicist Freeman Dyson, having been for most of his life a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. The good physicist has also publically said, “The idea that global warming is the most important problem facing the world is total nonsense and is doing a lot of harm.”

We often hear that the global warming debate is over because a "scientific consensus" exists. Indeed, at social gatherings I have time and again been looked upon as being out of touch or out-and-out uninformed for just suggesting that the consensus might be wrong. Fact is, when I question I am merely acknowledging that great body of science that propounds the same question, indeed a great and highly credentialed body of science questioning whether Carbon is the driver of any climate change in the first instance. This is not to suggest that all scientists believe the planet will be ok since vigorous debate continues, it’s just that we rarely hear of it in any meaningful way through mainstream and 24/7 news cycles.

Finding the right way through the emotional nonsense and narrow-mindedness is almost impossible. Sure we have had plenty of good books pointing the way in addition to films as “The Great Global Warming Swindle” but the establishment still rules that the world is in peril, and it’s our fault.

Now on the eve of action on proposed legislation to cap CO2 emissions more than ever, cogent and levelheaded reasons as to why global warming theories deserve real scrutiny as opposed to automatic acceptance is imperative. With this in mind, I am grateful to Australian expat Tim Andrews who alerted me to the impending release of the film, “Not Evil Just Wrong”. In his words:

… a groundbreaking new movie on the true cost of global warming hysteria … At its essence, Not Evil Just Wrong applies rigorous investigative journalism and cutting-edge cinematographic techniques to create a documentary that is not only a compilation of scientific data regarding 'climate change', but also includes personal stories that highlight the very real danger of climate-change hysteria presents. The worldwide premiere is to be held on October 18, and we already have numerous screenings arranged around Australia, including Federal Parliament …
Mind you not just any release, as the website suggests:
Help Us Make History! Be Part of a World Record for the largest ever simultaneous film premiere … OCTOBER 18th 2009 8PM EST
Indeed, I am impressed with the films unconventional yet brilliant distribution strategy, one that we shall all soon learn about.

If the fate of our planet is truly at stake, it is nothing short of critical that all perspectives are considered. The broad communities of the civilized world, and particular so, here in Australia have not made an informed decision, by definition they could not have, if they only listened to one point-of-view, I refer to the stance espoused by the establishment.

In addition to exploring the films website I recommend all readers promote this post, even if you must recycle according to your own needs.

If you are an organization, website, school, church, charity, think tank, university, glee club and think Global Warming Hysteria is a real threat you can help make the premiere of Not Evil Just Wrong on October 18th 2009 the world's largest simultaneous film screening in history, by becoming an affiliate and help raise money for yourself or your organization at the same time.

Finally, I present another related clip:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sign of the times – the fiscally mad times …

Alas, the signs they were talking about, they’re fast appearing at just about every school in Melbourne.

Have to tell you, I am somewhat surprised that an image of either Kevin or Julia is nowhere to be seen, was this, an oversight you think?

As I have noted before, Kevin Rudd has much nerve and audacity to critique the Howard Government. This Governments modus operandi makes Howard look benign, and certainly to date, this appears to have gone over the electorates head.

What was your very first thought upon seeing the image?

Related: School funding signs are ads: Australian Electoral Commission

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Imagery as media strategy - Turnbull and Howard before him, verses Rudd

While reading a recent news story on the ABC I could not help but notice the differences between how PM Kevin Rudd is pictured online at ABC sites when compared to Turnbull and before him John Howard.

This prompted me to provide some feedback to the ABC’s online feedback page where I wrote:

I cannot help but notice that whenever ABC online sites display images of Kevin Rudd he appears to be studious, academic, intelligent, forthright, adept, unruffled, and poised. His opposition opponent in Malcolm Turnbull is all too often captured looking dumbfounded, silly, flabbergasted, frustrated, dull-witted, and at times, malevolent. This is something I noticed as early as mid 2007, in which case the Turnbull descriptors applied to John Howard.

This would not be deliberate on the part of the ABC would it?
In the past, ABC online editors have responded to my commentary. I will publish their response to this latest comment as soon as I receive it, as an update to this post, though sometimes it can take up to a month to receive a reply.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On the ineffectiveness of the U.N.

Recently while exploring the ‘edit posts’ tab of my blogger account I discovered a July 2009 post that for reasons unknown failed to publish. To be sure, its subject matter veered away from the common theme and/or matters of this blog.

As readers of my past blogging would know, I enjoyed and in fact miss, commenting on the vicissitudes of international affairs particularly so, from a pro America foreign policy and hegemony standpoint. The post in question was, in effect, a reply to a reader who sought my advice on which regional organizations I would endorse for the receipt of U.S. aid in place of the United Nations following an earlier post of mine that criticized the U.N. In that post, I wrote:

Some may view it (the U.N.) as a valuable body when in fact, it is as hopeless as a guy carrying a stick; an organization that believes paperwork and innuendo can solve the problems of the world and, in the process, soak up massive amounts of taxpayers’ money.
To which a reader commented:
Hi Otto - am wondering, are there regional organizations you'd endorse or would want to allocate more US aid/resources to in place of the UN? Would taking away anything related to peacekeeping and human rights from the UN portfolio make it better able to concentrate on areas where it does tend to offer better value? I agree that it's been frighteningly ineffective on the vast majority of security and peacekeeping/ stabilization tasks particularly in past 30 years, but I do think groups like UNICEF can and do provide much needed services (again probably not as efficiently or effectively as one would like but I'm willing to keep an open mind on it). What about NATO or SCO or ASEAN or OAS - not endorsing any particular org as each has its problems but curious as to what you think? It seems to me the regional groups are more likely to be effective if only for cultural knowledge - sending a group of Pakis into Somalia ranks up there with one of the worst ideas of all time. Thanks CC.
My reply:
I could write much CC so I offer an overview. I have always thought highly of U.S. aid, not just in terms of supporting economic growth/trade, democracy, and conflict resolution but also chiefly in the context of furthering U.S. foreign policy interests. Accordingly, and given the ineffectiveness of the U.N. as a vehicle for world security tasks, some U.S. aid should be held back, in reserve if you will, being utilized support regional organizations and operations of Washington s choosing in times of crises. I agree that UNICEF (although not perfect) fulfills a vital role without to many hiccups.

I am not sufficiently versed on the specifics of the named regional organizations therefore; it might be prudent of me to highlight some of the more advantageous elements of their operations as against those of the U.N. Let us be clear, how many times has the big body faltered when trying to reach consensus on authorizing missions? By reasons of geography, demographics, cultural and historical roots, and differing political platforms regional orgs have an obvious advantage over the U.N.

By saying this, I am assuming that regional orgs can be accepted as legitimate arbitrators and therefore can potentially garner wider support than U.N. operations. Becoming a lawful arbiter is one thing however taking effective action is another. Thus, we come to some of the more obvious shortcomings of regional orgs; think resources, organizational ability, logistics, resource management, and issues of neutrality. One wonders then, if U.N. efforts may work better as supplements to regional efforts.

Of the organizations you mention the OAS, comprising of over 3 languages and at least 30 member states is too large and so it becomes susceptible to the same issues of the U.N. SCO serves as a vehicle of counterbalance to NATO and U.S. foreign objectives, so I do not see it as being helpful, least from my point of view or should I say, worldview. NATO itself is too large and still growing with constituents that are simply too diverse for effective accord.

Remember too, that part of the problem of regional’s is that included in their respective charters is a directive that read something like, “non interference in the internal affairs of one another” - this alone throws as sizable spanner in the works in terms of settling member nation state differences not to mention armed peacekeeping operations.

Finally allow me to draw attention to Australia’s recent intervention in the Solomon Islands as brought about by issues of non-governance, a breakdown of social order, and high crime rates rather than, a humanitarian crisis. RAMSI as it was known provides a good model when analyzing regional assistance missions designed to rescue failing states. Of course, there will always be critics and they would probably argue that the interventions are part of a broader campaign to extend the hegemony of the more powerful local state, in this case Australia.

Every crisis is different and needs to be addressed with local geographical interests on mind with the help of larger state bodies, though history tells us that the U.N. is not the most effective means. Perhaps regional organizations can consider some written exceptions to the non-interference question.
Once again, forgive for me for drifting away from the strict purpose of this blog … Does anyone agree? How would you rate the U.N. as a vehicle for world security tasks?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moral basis of Capitalism

Robert Tracinski was a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute from 2000 to 2004. Presented are excerpts of his article, which appears at The Center for the advancement of Capitalism website in which he shamelessly advocates the moral righteousness of capitalism.

Capitalism is the only moral social system because it is the only system that respects the freedom of the producers to think and the right of the individual to set his own goals and pursue his own happiness.

With the fall of communism and the alleged end of the "era of big government," many commentators and politicians grudgingly acknowledge the practical value of capitalism. The free market, they concede, is the best system for producing wealth and promoting prosperity; the private economy, in Bill Clinton's words, is the "primary engine of growth."

But this has not led to the triumph of capitalism. Quite the opposite: Federal taxes as a percentage of gross domestic product are at their highest rate since the Second World War; antitrust assaults on the market's winners are growing; the regulations on the federal register continue to expand by 60,000 pages per year ...

If capitalism is recognized as the only practical economic system—then why is it losing out to state control? The reason is that no one, neither on the left nor the right, is willing to defend capitalism as moral. Thus, both sides agree, whatever the practical value of capitalism, morality requires that the free market be reigned in by government regulations. The only disagreement between the two sides is over the number of regulations and the rate of their growth.

What no one has grasped yet is that capitalism is not just practical but also moral. Capitalism is the only system that fully allows and encourages the virtues necessary for human life. It is the only system that safeguards the freedom of the independent mind and recognizes the sanctity of the individual.

Every product that sustains and improves human life is made possible by the thinking of the world's creators and producers ...

Most people recognize the right of scientists and engineers to be free to ask questions, to pursue new ideas, and to create new innovations. But at the same time, most people ignore the third man who is essential to human progress: the businessman ...

Behind the activities of the businessman there is a process of rational inquiry every bit as important as that of the scientist or inventor. The businessman has to figure out how to find and train workers who will produce a quality product; he has to discover how to cut costs to make the product affordable; he has to determine how best to market and distribute his product so that it reaches its potential buyers; and he has to figure out how to finance his venture in a way that will best feed future growth.

The businessman has to have an unwavering dedication to thinking, not only in solving these problems, but also in dealing with others. He has to use reason to persuade investors, employees, and suppliers that his venture is a profitable one. If he cannot, the investors take their money elsewhere, the best employees leave for better opportunities, and the suppliers will give preference to more credit-worthy customers.

The businessman's dedication to thought, persuasion, and reason is a virtue—a virtue that our lives and prosperity depend on. The only way to respect this virtue is to leave the businessman free to act on his own judgment. That is precisely what capitalism does. The essence of capitalism is that it bans the use of physical force and fraud in men's economic relationships. All decisions are to be left to the "free market"—that is, to the un-coerced decisions of buyers and sellers, manufacturers and distributors, employers and employees. The first rule of capitalism is that everyone has a right to dispose of his own life and property according to his own judgment.

Government regulation, by contrast, operates by thwarting the businessman's thinking, subordinating his judgment to the decrees of government officials. These officials do not have to consider the long-term results—only what is politically expedient. They do not have to back their decisions with their own money or effort—they dispose of the lives and property of others. And most important, they do not have to persuade their victims—they impose their will, not by reason, but by physical force.

The government regulator does not merely show contempt for the minds of his victims; he also shows contempt for their personal goals and values.

In a free-market economy, everyone is driven by his own ambitions for wealth and success. That's what "free trade" means: that no one may demand the work, effort, or money of another without offering to trade something of value in return. If both partners to the trade don't expect to gain, they are free to go elsewhere. In Adam Smith's famous formulation, the rule of capitalism is that every trade occurs "by mutual consent and to mutual advantage."

A system that sacrifices the self to "society" is a system of slavery—and a system that sacrifices thinking to coercion is a system of brutality. This is the essence of any anti-capitalist system, whether communist or fascist. And "mixed" systems, such as today's regulatory and welfare state, merely unleash the same evils on a smaller scale.

Only capitalism renounces these evils entirely. Only capitalism is fully true to the moral ideal stated in the Declaration of Independence: the individual's right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Only capitalism protects the individual's freedom of thought and his right to his own life.

Only when these ideals are once again taken seriously will we be able to recognize capitalism, not as a "necessary evil," but as a moral ideal.
Read the whole piece here

A social system, any social system is deemed ‘good’, if the upshot advances not merely moral behavior but even the prospect of a higher order of moral behavior, bearing in mind that the protagonists are in all cases, the very men and woman, whose actions create the energy within, hence the creators. Thus, the system is produced and fashioned by the acts of individuals who sequentially institute the necessary checks, and moral elements that engender the economic and political system that best provides for them. Furthermore, because the formation of a social system is an act of human endeavor, there is inherent within a moral imperative to establish and sustain the kind of political and economic system that permits the greatest possibility for self-rule, for autonomy, and for independence and wealth generation. In this context, what social order other than Capitalism produces a better result?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book launch: Garth Paltridge’s Climate Capers

So you think the theory of disastrous climate change has been proved! You believe that scientists are united in their efforts to force the nations of the world to reduce their carbon emissions! You imagine perhaps that scientists are far too professional to overstate their case!

Maybe we should all think again. In his book The Climate Caper, with a light touch and nicely readable manner, Professor Paltridge shows that the case for action against climate change is not nearly so certain as is presented to politicians and the public. He leads us through the massive uncertainties which are inherently part of the ‘climate modelling process’; he examines the even greater uncertainties associated with economic forecasts of climatic doom; and he discusses in detail the conscious and sub-conscious forces operating to ensure that scepticism within the scientific community is kept from the public eye.

It seems that governments are indeed becoming captive to a scientific and technological elite – an elite which is achieving its ends by manipulating fear of climate change into the world’s greatest example of a religion for the politically correct. Source

The Lavoisier Group recently sent an email inviting all members, friends and supporters to a combined book launch and dinner for Garth Paltridge’s new book, Climate Capers.

Date: Tuesday 11 August 2009

Time: 5:30PM and dinner will be served at 7:00PM

Venue: 401 Collins Street Melbourne

Hugh Morgan AC will launch the book, and Garth Paltridge will respond.

The guest speaker is Dr Patrick Michaels, Distinguished Senior Fellow in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. He is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and was program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society. Michaels was also a research professor of Environmental Sciences at University of Virginia for thirty years. He is also Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute, Washington DC.

Pat Michaels has been at the forefront of the battle against the carbophobes for more than 20 years. He has written a number of books and numerous articles.

At the time of this writing registrations forms were not yet sent, however those interested in attending can contact the group directly here.

For those who have not heard of The Lavoisier Group I present the groups aim directly from site:

1. To promote vigorous debate within Australia on the science of global warming and climate change, and of the economic consequences of both unilateral or multilateral decarbonisation and

2. To explore the consequences which any international treaty relating to global decarbonisation targets, and the methods of policing such treaties, would have on Australian sovereignty and independence, and for the WTO rules which protect Australia from the use of trade sanctions as an instrument of extraterritorial power.
Put the date in your diaries…

See also: The Climate Caper - Dr. Garth W. Paltridge

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fervor of Kevin '07 still rules

Corin McCarthy writing in The Australian recently, reminded us of the inflated Kevin 07 fervor that defined his role as opposition leader in the lead up to the last federal election but more strikingly, how promises made then that is to say, “in times of irrational exuberance”, run counter to the present day solutions required in times of receding economic activity.

It began when Kevin07 challenged John Howard with anti-market measures that grabbed attention on the nightly news and won him favour on Seven's Sunrise. This was sometimes referred to as "scab flicking" politics. An issue would be raised, hence the scab. It would bleed from the politicisation, hence the flicking. Then there would be a call for an inquiry to indicate some action. This was the Rudd office playbook 101 for opposition. The Rudd opposition mercilessly used the politics of scab flicking on areas as varied as demonising Australian Workplace Agreements, using the navy to protect whales, green power schemes and, most explicitly, the cost of living facing working families.

Yet the sentiment scab flicking stirred up and the market interventions it has created will increase unemployment. To understand what is at stake, we must know what deregulation has delivered. Treasury secretary Ken Henry has argued repeatedly that the miracle economy of recent years resulted from the policies of deregulation in the 1980s and 90s, the labour and product market liberalisation started by Paul Keating and extended by Howard and Peter Costello. As recently as May 2007, Henry called labour market reform Australia's "shock absorber", a pivotal policy for achieving full employment and low wage inflation together.
McCarthy details some of labors new labour market policies that undermine Kevin 07 promises like increasing labour participation rates, productivity growth and capacity constraints”, referring to enterprise bargaining reform and AWA’s being cast aside for the more quaint ‘forward with fairness’ in addition to relaxing activity tests for those seeking to re-enter the workforce at the expense of ‘mutual obligation sticks and tax reform carrots’.

Reversing this re-regulation is the only way Rudd can tackle unemployment for the 2010 election … the effect of Rudd's policies through more regulation and picking industry winners will reduce Australia's growth prospects … The Productivity Commission has already found that for every job saved in the auto industry it costs the community about $300,000 and the Green Car Innovation Fund would be unlikely to yield significant innovation and greenhouse benefits.
The commission also found Kevin07's 20 per cent mandatory renewable energy target will not achieve any further carbon abatement above the emission-trading scheme but will impose further costs borne by consumers through higher electricity prices.
Read the rest here

Perhaps revisiting some of the fundamental prescriptions normally associated with, or derived from the tenets of economic liberalism that is, banking in markets, and competitive forces to dictate strengths of an economy, may be a better remedy for our present economic challenges. Though it must be said, not something that Sunrise presenters and viewers alike, would necessarily comprehend.

See also: Rudd’s 24/7 spin cycle

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Magazine cover of the week ...

"... James Delingpole talks to Professor Ian Plimer, the Australian geologist, whose new book shows that ‘anthropogenic global warming’ is a dangerous, ruinously expensive fiction, a ‘first-world luxury’ with no basis in scientific fact. Shame on the publishers who rejected the book ..."

The front cover of the latest edition of the Spectator about Ian Plimer’s best selling book, Heaven and Earth. introduces its readers to Professor Ian Plimer. Read it here ...

Analysing PM Kevin Rudd

Shaun Carney provides a noteworthy analysis of Kevin Rudd, his ways and wares with media and communication style.

THIS Kevin Rudd, who is he? And who really cares? When the opinion pollsters and the journalists refer in their reports to the Prime Minister's popularity, they're using the term advisedly. Rudd gets a high approval rating, a low disapproval rating and, like pretty much every sitting PM, scores big numbers as preferred prime minister ... Liberal voters cannot understand how Rudd can continue to win endorsement from a solid majority of their fellow Australians. They see Rudd as a slippery, deceitful fake — a king of "spin" with a "glass jaw" — who would go to any length to advance himself ... His default delivery in public sits somewhere between the business-like monotone of the old-fashioned bank manager and the smarming bloke at the door trying to sell encyclopedias. This demonstrates the duality of Rudd's public persona: he's got something special to give you (his intellect, his drive) but you've got to travel some of the way towards him to connect ...

Rudd's experience as a diplomat has served him well in politics. He's never seen a room that he didn't think he could work. In most settings, he seems to know how much interest to show in other people to disarm them before proceeding to display what he would regard as his intellectual talents and his personal resolve ... Do we see the real Rudd in public? No more or less than any other public figure. Every politician I've met is more interesting in private. Rudd does a reasonable job of hiding his more bureaucratic-cum-academic side — his public use of "programmatic specificity" this week was a classic slip. Try saying it, much less using it in a sentence.

To counteract these inadvertent exposures, Rudd regularly ventures into the entertainment media, trying to connect to younger voters. He's appeared on Channel Ten's Rove twice now. Because John Howard, who turns 70 this month, declined to appear on the show, Rudd's willingness to engage is being portrayed by some as a decline in standards.

Read the whole piece here

I feel that Rudd's litmus test still awaits him, true he has carved out a resilient persona without political expense, however luck has been on Labor's side. Personally, I think the Government often behaves as if still in an election mode; the gloss my friends is simply yet to peel ...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Problems with Individuality and equivocal elements of Conservatism

I find myself drawn to Greg R Lawson’s thoughts of an interview by James Poulos, an editor at the Postmodern conservative blog. Though the interview hardly makes for bread and butter consumption, he cuts through the top end prose of academia and raises pertinent but all the same practical questions, in relation to the individual within a progressive society routed within and toward cultural and political forces of influence where seemingly, an infinite number of lifestyles flourish. While concise, the focus rests on the hackneyed, not merely contemporary term, ‘fiscal conservative’ and the more inclusive and generalized singular descriptor … 'conservatism'.

This interview with James Poulos, whi is a doctoral candidate in political theory at Georgetown University and founding editor of obne of my new favorite blogs, Postmodern Conservative, is the kind of reading all thoughtful conservatives should do. It confronts a very serious dilema that we face- how do we live as individuals in the current modern and "Liberal" with a big "L" (as opposed to a classical liberal of the Burke or even Adam Smith variety).

Several interesting quotes

"The big challenge today, I think, is convincing people—especially younger people—that a life in which political liberty has been readily surrendered in exchange for great cultural or “personal” freedom is not a good life, either individually or socially. The willingness to be carried along to that destination, particularly under the impression that it’s basically inevitable, ought to be something that everyone with anything at all nice to say about NR’s (National Review) editors should unite against...

Conservatives are at great pains to convince themselves and one another that their vision of the good or virtuous life is not a mere lifestyle choice. Conservatives don’t just want to experience happiness or individuality—they want assurances, reliable enough that their souls may rest in them, that their progeny will be able to live, indefinitely, more or less as they do. If there’s no reason to live that way outside idiosyncratic personal choice, they’ll fail to inculcate their way of life, and lifestyle-choosing liberals will turn their children and grandchildren into individuals who could be just anyone."
This piece got me thinking about many different things, not only those specific issues raised by the interview itself.

So what do we "conserve" as "conservatives?" There is much more to this than just being a "fiscal conservative." After all a "fiscal conservative" can be an amazingly selfish and greedy person who does not care about anything outside of their own self-fulfillment.

If being fiscally conservative, however, is married, so to speak, with an overall cultural renewal, then, that fiscal conservatism is no longer a means only to one's self satisfaction, but is a morally responsible position that can allow us to give more to our family, our friends, and our community.

So, we conserve money for a greater good than oneself. But what else? Isn't conservation about saving things that are vitally important to us, possibly even necessary for life itself? Isn't that what the "conservation" movement is all about when it comes to "saving the planet?"

So isn't being "conservative" about saving something that will sustain us, not only materially, but spiritually? Isn't it about maintaining a connection to our roots, our family, and our cultural heritage that has historically shaped, though not determined, what and who we are?

So conservatives must "conserve" more than their individuality, they must conserve those instituions that transcend, otherwise, do we not lose touch with any sense of eternity?

In this respect, I think the "virtuous life" is much more than a mere "lifestyle choice." It is a life that attempts to raise our horizons to something much higher than ourselves, and even higher than mere man. For youth that seek the stimulation of "personal" freedom, conservatives must offer a more comprehensive vision, a vision of greatness, transcendance, and the eternal. These are that which should be "conserved" because they are what give us true inspiration and bring us closer (if not into the direct presence of) Truth.

Faith, family, and community are where these senses of the transcendant reside and those, even more than the fiscal arena, is what we must conserve.

How we do this is another question
For mine, the source article makes one appreciate just how fluid and fragmented this idiom ‘conservative’ is, and not just within its own theoretical sphere, but as an element of time, place and real world circumstance.

From the interview:

The way we conceptualized conservatism at the height of the twentieth century reflected a very legitimate practical response to certain problems and temptations in the real world, and today those problems and temptations look different. They carry different weights and fit into a different bigger picture. Rationalism in politics, to take one example that should resonate across the right-leaning spectrum, looks a lot different before and after 1968. Democracy promotion looks different before and after 1991. Deficit spending looks different before and after 2006, and even more so after 2008.
For those seeking intellectual ‘eHarmony’ on the subject that is, a more robust conceptualization if you will, of 'conservatism', they will surely be disappointed.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Australia: World beater in stimulus spending

Read more at the source:

OECD Report: Policy Responses to the Economic Crisis pp. 18

Over to you ...

Battle over Emission Trading Schemes on the wane

"... there is undercurrent of opposition to ETS swelling beneath the surface fuelled in part by not just skeptical political types, but some highly credentialed Scientifics’ that collectively, are driving an elegant collapse of consensus ..."

Here is something that MSM in not likely to report any time soon, least not in Australia. The call for a global climate change deal in on the wane and it may explain why our own Minister for economic destruction, Penny Wong and perhaps too, Obama are keen to ram through legislation. Last week’s U.S. House of representatives vote to cut Carbon Emissions was hardly an empathetic win for the Obama administration. Let us be perfectly clear a vote, of 219-212 for ‘cap and trade’ or more accurately ‘cap and tax’ reveals just how divided the U.S. legislature remains, what is more, the Democratic crafted bill owes its victory to eight (8) Republican votes. As Senator Fifield said recently, “It’s extremely unlikely that the bill will pass the US Senate in its current form. So we still don’t know what the United States ultimate position will be. There is still a lot of water to go under the bridge there.”

Tom Switzer makes a good case for the change in political climate to which we refer in an aptly titled piece, “Greenhouse gas battle is slowly losing steam

When Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama were elected to power, Australia and the United States were expected to implement overdue and concrete measures to slash the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

But a curious thing is happening on the road to the UN post‐Kyoto global conference later this year: the legislation to implement an emissions trading scheme (ETS) – the chosen policy that would change the way we use energy – is likely to collapse in both Canberra and Washington.

And the reason for the opposition among politicians and commentators is the same in both Australia and the US: that any serious action to reduce each nation’s carbon footprint would be futile without the support of the developing, big polluting nations, most notably China and India, at the Copenhagen conference.

It was not Adelaide University’s Ian Plimer, but Harvard University’s Martin Feldstein who argued in the Washington Post this month that we “should wait until there is a global agreement on CO2 that includes China and India before [we] commit... to costly reductions.

It was not Liberal frontbencher Andrew Robb, but leading Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner who argued in the Wall Street Journal we “cannot reduce the growth of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere without the developing nations cutting their emissions as well.

And it was not National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce, but Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels who warned in last week’s GOP radio and Internet address that, under an ETS, “our farmers and livestock producers would see their costs skyrocket and our coal miners would be looking for new work.
Public opinion in the US is also shifting dramatically: according to Gallup, 41 per cent of Americans think climate change is exaggerated (the highest percentage in more than a decade of polling) and among eight environmental concerns, climate change ranked last. Amid the financial crisis, protecting jobs now takes priority over combating global warming.

Just a week later Kimberley Strassel, writing in The Wall Street Journal noted that while the Democratic elites in Washington (and their Labor counterparts in Canberra) continue preaching to the already converted throng of alarmists, there is undercurrent of opposition to ETS swelling beneath the surface fuelled in part by not just skeptical political types, but some highly credentialed Scientifics’ that collectively, are driving an elegant collapse of consensus.

“It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as “deniers.” The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country’s new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country’s weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

The collapse of the “consensus” [over the idea that climate change was primarily man-made] has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth’s temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.”
It remains to be seen how many politicians in the U.S. and Canberra are willing to exercise good judgment and sheer courage to stand up against the lefts unremitting drive to worship climate change.

Further reading:

Chinese Official unhappy with US climate bill

Wong’s Silent Treatment Clouds Emissions Credibility

Evidence for a solar signature in 20th-century temperature

The Wong-Fielding Meeting on Global Warming

Ask a politician, WHY do need to tax or trade carbon and what will they say? Armed with the best experts they can find, they still can ‘t name any evidence. Read how: they rephrased questions; lectured for a full 30 minutes on an irrelevant matter; interrupted continually; and hear the tactics used to avoid a direct answer… “It’s as if they had never before encountered real live competent skeptics or their arguments.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Opinion polls, Malcolm Turnbull, ETS, Border Protection .. A Liberal Senators View

" ... we didn’t manage to get out our perspective in relation to the big issues of this Government’s maladministration in relation to government debt, in relation to Grocery Watch, in relation to the Job Network tender, in relation to border protection. That’s the important thing to focus on, the major areas of maladministration of this government ... But we have got to get back on the job now of holding the Government to account, and issues like on the front page today, where we have another asylum seeker boat arriving in Australia. We’ve now cracked over 1,000 people in the past year ... "

Transcript of
Senator Mitch Fifield
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for
Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector

Sky News – AM Agenda
Ashleigh Gillon and Mike Kelly MP

29 June 2009

ASHLEIGH GILLON: Welcome back to AM Agenda. Let’s go straight to our panel of politicians. Joining me from Canberra is the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support and Water, Mike Kelly. Good morning.

MIKE KELLY: Good morning Ashleigh.

GILLON: And from Melbourne the Liberal frontbencher, Senator Mitch Fifield. Good morning to you.

MITCH FIFIELD: Good morning Ashleigh.

GILLON: Mitch, let’s start with you. What went through your mind this morning when you opened up the papers and saw such devastating results for the Coalition?

FIFIELD: Well you have some good days in politics and you have some bad days. What the polls tell us is that the voters give you points when you handle things well and they deduct points when you handle something not so well. And that’s what we saw last week. For me the great disappointment is that we weren’t able to get our message out about Wayne Swan and the questions that he needs to answer about Mr John Grant. And we didn’t manage to get out our perspective in relation to the big issues of this Government’s maladministration in relation to government debt, in relation to Grocery Watch, in relation to the Job Network tender, in relation to border protection. That’s the important thing to focus on, the major areas of maladministration of this government.

GILLON: But Senator do you think that these poll results might suggest that Mr Turnbull was wrong to pursue the Prime Minister over the Ozcar affair? That he didn’t handle this whole saga well at all.

FIFIELD: Well I’m not going to pretend for a second that we had a good week last week. Opposition isn’t always an elegant business. It’s important that we ask the tough questions. That we seek to hold the Government to account. It’s a collective responsibility that we have as opposition Members and Senators to hold the government to account. That’s what we were doing. One of the issues which we were pursuing ended up being not a valid matter to pursue in relation to the Prime Minister and that fabricated email. But we have got to get back on the job now of holding the Government to account, and issues like on the front page today, where we have another asylum seeker boat arriving in Australia. We’ve now cracked over 1,000 people in the past year who have come to Australia illegally. These are the issues which we have to get back on to focusing and making sure that this Government starts to administer policy well.

GILLON: I do want to get into the asylum seeker issue a bit later with Mike Kelly, but firstly Senator just staying with you for a second, do you think that Mr Turnbull’s leadership now is under threat off the back of these polls and his performance last week? Are you aware of any moves to try to bring him down from the leadership?

FIFIELD: Not at all. Malcolm is extremely secure as leader. In fact, talking to colleagues last week, the recurring theme amongst colleagues is that Malcolm is the best person to lead us and that he should lead us to the next election. Malcolm is someone who is incredibly resilient. He’s fought back before. He’s been in the leadership a relatively short time, and we’ve seen during his leadership that he does have the capacity to fight back, he does have the capacity to rebound. He is incredibly tenacious. And he is going to pursue this Government from today right through to polling day.

GILLON: So Senator Fifield you are telling me that there is no rumblings, even on the backbench, trying to get Malcolm Turnbull to step down?

FIFIELD: I can tell you exactly that. There are no rumblings. There are no moves. The only conversations that I’ve had with colleagues are that Malcolm is the best person to lead us, and that he should lead us to the next election.

GILLON: Mike Kelly let’s bring you in, the government didn’t escape completely unscathed in these polls, they show, we saw in the AC-Neilson poll that Wayne Swan suffered, it showed his likeability was down 21%. Does that surprise you?

KELLY: Ashleigh I represent the people of Eden-Monaro which I think are the best cross-section of Australia, and what they are telling me is that they are sick and tired of the politics of fear and smear. They were amazed that we spent the entire of last week of parliament with the opposition asking not one single question about economics, health, education, security. Really they’re just disgusted that we are wasting taxpayers’ money on this sort of fear and smear, muckraking stuff, instead of getting on with the business of tackling the big issues that face us like the economy and climate change.

GILLON: But Mike Kelly it takes two to tango, we saw the Government give as good as it got last week.

KELLY: Well Ashleigh you can see if you go back over the record last week that on the first point, we were responding to questions from the Coalition which were exclusively focused on this smear and muckraking. But on the second hand when we had the opportunity to ask questions they were focused on the real issues that confronted Australians. Issues like the economy and climate change. Particularly in my electorate, I know climate change is a very big worry. We’ve got a lot of farmers and people on the land who are worried about the effects of climate change and we need to see now the Coalition finally stumping up and joining in with us to make sure we can go to Copenhagen lined up with the United States to move this issue forward.

GILLON: Well that’s another issue we will get back to as well but Mike Kelly, the Government would be mad not to go to an early election, wouldn’t you, especially with Malcolm Turnbull down as he is at the moment?

KELLY: Ashleigh all we are interested in is getting on with the business of government. We have major issues confronting us. We’ve got an unprecedented international economic crisis that we are managing and by all the indicators we are managing successfully in comparison with other OECD countries. We’re really trying to gear up now to be able to go to Copenhagen with a good position on climate change. We’re focused on these issues, delivering good education and heath policy for the country. All these range of things that are of real concern to people in our community.

GILLON: Senator if Peter Costello hadn’t announced his retirement a couple of weeks ago we’d be having a very different conversation today. Do you think though that Colin Barnett’s experience in WA may give some Costello supporters a good glimmer of hope, or is there zero chance that he would reconsider his retirement?

FIFIELD: I think Peter has made his position extremely clear. He is not recontesting at the next election. He is looking to his career outside politics. Malcolm Turnbull is our leader. He has the support of the Party Room. We’ve got to get in behind him. He is someone of immense capacity. He is someone of great integrity. And I think over the months ahead the public will see that as he holds the Government to account.

GILLON: But you could see how it could be a little bit tempting for Mr Costello and some of his supporters to beg for him to come back when it does look like Malcolm Turnbull is suffering some much in terms of viewers perception of his leadership and his character.

FIFIELD: Well we are professional politicians, we are in the business of dealing with facts and reality. And the facts are that Malcolm is our leader and he will take us to the next election.

GILLON: Well how do you think Mr Turnbull will go about trying to re-energise the party over the winter break? It seems apparent that we will see a reshuffle of the Coalition frontbench. Are you expecting widespread change there or just perhaps some tinkering at the edges?

FIFIELD: Well we’ve got a pretty good team. I don’t know if there will be a reshuffle, Malcolm may well make some fine-tuning to responsibilities and personnel but that’s certainly in his court. I think Malcolm is going to focus over the winter break on the fact that this is a Government that can’t administer anything well. Look at grocery choices – a bungle. Look at the Job Network tender – a bungle. Look at our border protection – a bungle. Look at the schools stimulus package spending – a bungle. And the feature of this Government is whenever a Minister stuffs something up, such as Chris Bowen, with grocery choices, or the employee share scheme, you get promoted. (Brendan) O’Connor bungled the Job Network tender. He got promoted. And I think that’s how Malcolm is going to focus over the winter break on the fact that this government can’t administer anything well. They can certainly get the politics right. They handle the politics very well. They handle spin very well. But when it actually comes to the business of administering, when it actually comes to the business of delivering outcomes for the Australian people this Government is just not in the event.

GILLON: Mike Kelly we’ve heard Mitch Fifield there bringing up the failed Grocery Watch scheme, we saw FuelWatch die last year. That is quite embarrassing isn’t it, for the Government? These were two key election promises from Kevin Rudd.

KELLY: Ashleigh this Government is determined to do whatever we can to improve competition and benefits to the consumer. We’re not afraid to try whatever options are out there and to continue to experiment to deliver that result. Unlike the previous Government, which never lifted a finger to help consumers, we’ll leave no stone unturned to deliver a good result for consumers, and that’s also associated with our overall economic management which by every end this year has been proven to be successful. The retail sales are up, building approvals are up, business confidence, consumers confidence, the fastest growing economy in the OECD. The strategy of the Government, carefully constructed and decisive, and acting early has produced results and has helped cushion Australia from the impacts of the economic crisis, and we want to continue to maintain support for consumers through both that strategy and looking for options to promote competition and keep prices down.

GILLON: Mike Kelly another big, of course, election promise from Kevin Rudd was the deliverance of an emissions trading scheme in Australia. Over the weekend we saw the US House of Representatives pass its climate legislation. That development means that if the Rudd Government can’t succeed in getting its scheme through, it wont really be a good look will it?

KELLY: Oh, absolutely. This is an opportunity now with the legislation passing through the US Congress, for Australia to be able to add its voice in a concerted team effort to improve the international position in relation to carbon emissions. It would be very embarrassing for us to be unable to go to Copenhagen with a firm position. But beyond that, this is critically important for our own economy.

GILLON: But what would it say about Kevin Rudd’s leadership if he failed to negotiate with the Coalition and the other independent Senators?

KELLY: You can’t negotiate with someone who won’t talk to you. I mean the problem we’ve got with the Coalition is that they don’t have a position. They are completely divided on this issue. We know there are some severe climate sceptics. Malclom Turnbull through his failed leadership has been unable to unite his party on a whole range of issues including this one, and as I said, no to all of our positions so far and haven’t proposed a single amendment so far. And all they have been able to decide to do is to postpone a vote. So we haven’t go a partner dance with here.

GILLON: Well Mitch Fifield, Malcolm Turnbull of course has been pushing for the delay of this scheme, the vote going through the Senate, we saw this decision over in the US which has been hailed as a real breakthrough in terms of the world going forward on climate change. Now hasn’t Malcolm Turnbull lost one of his reasons for delay, he said that we should wait and see what the US is doing before coming up with a position here in Australia?

FIFIELD: Well we still don’t know what the US is going to do. The Waxman-Markey bill has passed the US House of Representatives, just. It’s yet to pass the US Senate. It’s extremely unlikely that the bill will pass the US Senate in its current form. So we still don’t know what the United States ultimate position will be. There is still a lot of water to go under the bridge there. Our position is that it is important to wait to see what the US does. It’s important to wait to see what comes out of Copenhagen. The Coalition have commissioned research with Senator Xenophon, Frontier Economics, to do some work to look at alternatives to this design of ETS and what the impacts of this ETS will be. So that will give us some additional information to take into account. But it has struck me as truly bizarre the fact that this Government said that there was going to be plague and pestilence across Australia if we did not have an ETS in place by 2010. Yet a couple of months back the Government said that it was fine to delay the implementation of the ETS. It seems that the Government taking its time is responsible. The Coalition taking its time is irresponsible. We think the right thing to do is to take the time to get it right. An ETS shouldn’t be an end in itself. An ETS should be one part of a package of measures to reduce emissions. The important thing is to get it right and that is what we aim to do.

GILLON: Well the Senate vote of course will still be in the middle of August, so that will be a fascinating return to parliament. I did promise we’d get back to the asylum seeker issue. Over the weekend we saw 194 people arrive on a boat. That boat was intercepted, it’s the 15th boat to arrive this year. Mike Kelly are you really telling us that the influx of asylum seekers has nothing to do with the Rudd Government’s change of policy? The Government says its policy is more humane than the former Howard Government’s policy so doesn’t it logically follow that more people would want to come here?

KELLY: It absolutely has nothing to do with our policy. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights report just recently released, indicated that there has been a 28% increase in asylum seekers and refugees worldwide and 42 million people have been dislocated. So 800 of those have been trying to make their way to Australian shores. It has all to do with the wars and the conflicts around the world at the moment and nothing to do with our policy. And might I say, I’m completely disgusted with some members of the Coalition attempting to make political capital on the back of the suffering of refugees and asylum seekers. I think we’ve learned a lot of lessons after the children overboard affair, and I know that there are a lot of decent men and women on the Coalition side who don’t support this sort of tawdry politics.

GILLON: Senator we’ll let you respond to that quickly.

FIFIELD: Well listening to Mike it sounds as though there are only push factors, that there is no such thing as pull factors. But the reality is that the Labor Party went to the last election promising to soften border protection policies and that is exactly what they did. Not just in terms of their rhetoric, but they abolished temporary protection visas as well. The product of that has been we’ve had 15 boats come in the last 12 months, and over 1,000 asylum seekers. Now you can’t just put this down to push factors, there are pull factors. This Government had a policy of softening border protection, that’s what they’ve done. They’ve given the people smugglers a good product to sell and that’s what the people smugglers are doing.

GILLON: Senator Mitch Fifield, Mike Kelly, thank you both for your time this morning on AM Agenda.

KELLY: Thanks Ashleigh.

FIFIELD: Thank you Ashleigh.