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The fun-police state
I am becoming increasingly concerned that this nation is losing its perspective in the face of the Coronavirus. The PM has unleashed an army of jealous wowsers, curtain twitchers and hall monitors to dictate how their neighbours live. We are banned from heading out and being seen to have fun or do something frivolous. Yet we are literally forced to go out and engage in high risk activities so long as it is our least favourite thing to do.
What does this say about our values?
I can understand people’s fear of Australia turning into another Italy. And just to be clear, I think we should keep the ban on men hugging men when this is all over (unless they plan to have sex, because there is nothing wrong with that…) Also, wildly gesticulating while you are talking on your mobile phone. You could poke an old lady’s eye out. Pay attention when you gesticulate in public. But we seem to have decided that the virus is God’s retribution on the Italians for the crime of being happy and having more fun than us.
Case in point, children are being forced to attend school until they actually come down with the virus or kill their grandmother, in which case they might be lucky enough to get a rare funeral invite. The apparent reason is that school is both important and urgent, even though the benefit might be more than ten years away. Also, it might stop parents doing something equally miserable - going to work. The real reason is threefold. First, children are less likely to shoot you if you force them to do something they hate (though I acknowledge the land of liberty making inroads here). Second, our country is obsessed with the petty achievements of our children, and this extends way beyond celebrating their first wet dump. We are so obsessed that we are forcing the babysitters at the childcare centres to get a PhD in education so they can invent creative ways to get children to remember things their brains are not yet ready to absorb. We have proof that this ‘works’, because these kids do better than their less fortunate peers in grade 1, which is some kind of end in itself. We even invented the most absurd, convoluted way of doing long division (a key life skill if ever there was one), so that children can now be better than their parents at something, even if they lack the mental capacity to figure out what half a dozen means without a pen, paper and ten minutes to spare. Don’t get distracted, the lesson is not finished yet. Thirdly, there is a good chance they will get bullied at school and have a miserable time. Maybe the little shits will even tease them about their sick grandmother. So sending kids to school is our top priority.
Contrast this to my plight. The Prime Minister appears to have announced that I am not allowed to play tennis or even go fishing. I could be a kilometre offshore, by myself, ten meters underwater, and more likely to get eaten by a shark (by the way, what’s up with all the sharks lately?) than to catch or spread a virus. But someone is going to be pissed off with me for doing the wrong thing. Especially if I catch a big Spanish Mackerel and post a photo on facebook.
Another case in point: We are allowed five people at a wedding and ten at a funeral. This is Australian values distilled down to cold, hard mathematics. But even this understates our wowserness. The minimum requirement for a funeral is 1 person (not counting the guy who fills in the hole afterwards). And this is just a technicality, not a legal requirement. But you actually need 5 people for a legal wedding. One man, one woman (as God/Nature/The Government intended). Two witnesses. And someone official to tell you that you are married. There has never been a legal requirement for witnesses to make sure someone is actually dead before you bury them, which in my opinion is far more important. I now pronounce you legally dead. You may bury the corpse. Please sign here. And you, sign here. Getting back to the maths lesson, you can have ten times the minimum requirement of people at a funeral, but only one times the minimum requirement at a wedding. So that’s actually a 10:1 ratio, not a 2:1 ratio.
I have a better idea. Let’s ban funerals altogether. This is not some kind of macabre weekend at Bernie’s thing, though the jury is still out on how infectious a corpse is. Think about this: we have a lot of unused ice skating rinks, because ice skating is fun, even solo. In fact it is the most fun of all when you are by yourself, because you aren’t going to lose a finger if you end up sprawled on the ice. So let’s put the bodies there. Throw a tarp over the top to keep the cold air in. When summer comes around again, or someone invents a vaccine, or everyone has caught the virus, we can thaw them out (or not) and bury them. We could be as collectively miserable as we want. Maybe then we could have a few extra people at weddings.
A lot of us are getting a six month holiday for the first time in our life. Those of us still working are very concerned about this. You are not allowed to enjoy the holiday, because unemployed people are meant to line up at Centrelink and frown (but not scowl in case that intimidates the bureaucrat and he feels bullied). Sneezing is also acceptable, so long as you use your magic elbow to kill the virus.
The Prime Minister has given his wowser army a sneaky trick in the fight against good times. He has granted them unlimited leeway to interpret what a gathering is. So how do you tell if people are gathering illegally? Look deep inside yourself and ask, do I feel jealous? If the answer is yes, it is a gathering. People queuing at Centrelink? Not a gathering. People stuck in traffic? Not a gathering. But how dare you sit on the beach and enjoy the sun and fresh air when you should be sitting in a windowless office next to sneezy George. If I put my camera down at my ankles I can even take a photo of you smiling with at least 100 other people stretched out in the distant background along the white, sandy gathering.
Homofascism: the belief that, in the interests of inclusiveness, people should lose their job for having an unpopular religious belief.
Support among the Australian public for Rugby Australia firing Israel Folau appears to be ultimately based on the view that his comments were 'not inclusive'. Rugby Australia cited a violation of it's inclusiveness policy in justifying excluding him from the game. The hypocrisy of supporting real harm (losing a job) in exchange for harm that cannot be demonstrated (statements about the afterlife) seems lost to such people. Alternatively, many people offer a technical, contractual justification. Ignoring that the contractual justification rests on an inclusiveness policy, this also fails the reciprocity test. If the situation were reversed and the majority of the population were reactionary, conservative and religious, would those who now support Folau losing his job on technical grounds also support someone losing their job for raising the ire of the majority by saying that gays don't go to hell? Probably not.
Electoral fraud gets bipartisan support from Senators
Our Senators can no longer be trusted to fulfil a simple but important duty entrusted to them under Australia's constitution. From 2019 until 2022 both the Labor Party and the Coalition will get an extra seat in the federal Senate. This will affect the balance of power and will affect the ability to pass legislation. They got these extra seats by reneging on repeated promises made to the Australian public to respect the constitution and allocate 3 and 6 year senate terms according to a method agreed to before the election results are announced. This is not the first time this has happened.
Judges issue racist verdict
The judges (members) in the Sonia Kruger case made racist claims in their deliberation, which they attributed to Andrew Bolt. Dr Robert Dubler SC and Anthea Elisabeth Lowe dismissed the claim that Kruger racially vilified Australian Muslims, on the grounds that Muslims are not a race. In consideration of their verdict, they explained:
Thereby, Ms Kruger goes further than Mr Andrew Bolt, who accepts in his article that “truly, the number of Muslims in the country does not tell the full story”. Mr Andrew Bolt points out that Germany, whilst having possibly more Muslims than France, may have escaped the same level of terrorism as France “perhaps because many of its Muslims came from Turkey, more westernised than the North African countries’’ which are the source of most Muslims in France.
The case was heard before the Civil and Administrative Tribunal of New South Wales under the Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division and the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1977. The complaint was made by Sam Ekermawi, who regularly brings similar cases before the courts, including the Alan Jones case. He was served a bankruptcy notice in 2012.
The judges cleared Kruger of racial discrimination on the grounds that Islam is not a race, but criticised her for making an insufficiently 'measured' and 'reasonable' criticism, offering the racist theory from Bolt (who was convicted of racial vilification) as an example of a measured criticism.
Fruit tree recommendations for South East Queensland
The following recommendations are based on my experience growing fruit and nut trees in South East Queensland. A lot of these fruit have a poor shelf life so you are unlikely to find them in the shops, but taste better and are easier to grow than more familiar commercial crops. In considering pest resistance, keep in mind that I do not have possums, on account of our power lines being underground, but I do have rats, bats, fruit flies and a variety of grubs. I do not use any insecticides other than soapy water on the fig tree. I use a lot of mulch and a bit of fertiliser.
Jaboticaba Grumichama Surinam Cherry Black Sapote Dragonfruit Bowen Mango Fig - Black Genoa Banana Macadamia Passionfruit Mulberry Guava Bunya Grape
The Green Tax Shift concept and the economics of climate change
The links below are to a powerpoint presentation, and two word documents containing a transcript and brief notes, for a presentation on the economics of climate change. Feel free to use them, but please cite OzPolitic as the source.
SPA affordable food and housing policy
The Sustainability Party of Australia has a policy of making food and housing more affordable by removing some of the government restrictions that are pushing up house prices and preventing communities growing their own food.
Racism and government-imposed sacred cows, wrapped in the woolly fuzz of political correctness
White people will be banned from Uluru. All non-aborigines will be, and presumably those aborigines who are from the wrong tribal group. Clearly, this is racist. Chances are, women won’t be allowed up there either, even if they have the correct skin colour. Even more concerning is that this is justified on spiritual grounds. One group’s spiritual views are so much more important than everyone else’s that the government has enshrined them in legislation so that our most iconic natural monument can be fenced off.
Qantas and American Airlines hitting customers with last minute 'surprise fees' at check-in
Qantas and American Airlines are charging customers 'surprise fees' for baggage at check-in for codeshare flights that they later both deny responsibility for.
Freedom of speech for unpopular people
Our freedom of speech is being eroded on several fronts. Broad and ill-conceived legislation has been passed in both state and federal parliaments that is fundamentally incompatible with the right to speak your mind. This is coinciding with extra-legal attacks on our rights, including the use of violence and intimidation. While these attacks often generate significant debate about freedom of speech when they involve violence or celebrities, the denial of basic human rights to unpopular political agitators often goes unnoticed. Yet it is the unpopular, crazy and ignorant people whose rights are most at risk. They are the singing canaries whose silence should warn us of toxic air. As well as undermining our own freedom, making these people genuine martyrs elevates their status by giving them a legitimacy that their views would otherwise not afford.
Labor hypocrisy on Senate integrity
The high court has rejected another bid by the ALP to get Lucy Gichuhi excluded as a candidate in the special recount to fill Bob Day's vacant Senate seat in South Australia. The AEC is yet to return the official recount results and the APH website still lists the seat as vacant.
It has been confirmed that for both the earlier special recount in WA (in which Rod Culleton was replaced by Peter Georgiou) and (most likely) the SA recount, the AEC was instructed to conduct a full recount, effectively re-electing all 12 Senators. This had the potential to change not only the order in which Senators were elected (thus affecting the allocation of short and long term Senate seats) but also which Senators were elected. Prior to the recount, first preference votes for the excluded Senator were distributed to the second preference, and any later preferences for the excluded candidate were immediately passed on to the next indicated preference, if any.
In both recounts, only the excluded Senator was replaced. I can confirm that in the WA special recount, the order elected was also the same. For SA, the AEC has not yet published the detailed results of the special recount, so it remains unclear whether the order of election will be affected. In particular, if the sixth and seventh place are reversed, then under the method chosen by the Senate for 2016, the allocation of long and short term seats will change. In addition, the AEC has not published the half Senate count asociated with the special recount for either WA or SA, so it is unclear whether the allocation of Senate seats using the alternative method would have changed. For the SA recount, it remains unclear whether the Senate would honour any change to the order in which candidates are elected. The Senators most likely to be affected are Xenophon Senator Stirling Griff and Liberal Senator Anne Ruston. Griff currently holds the long term seat, so there is a risk that the Liberal Party would try to steal a second long term seat for Ruston, as they did for Scott Ryan in Victoria (at the expense of Derryn Hinch). The Liberal Party has not confirmed whether they would steal this seat, and the ALP have not indicated whether they would support this in order to remain consistent with their stance in 2016, or oppose it out of self interest.
In the meantime, an ALP MP has misrepresented to me, in person, the mechanism used to conduct the special recount. I was misinformed by this MP that the recount will effectively start from where Day was elected and only consider the Senate seat occupied by Day. The truth is that all 12 seats were re-allocated. Although it was likely that the other 11 senate seats would remain unchanged, and the order elected would remain unchanged, this was by no means certain. Naturally, this ALP MP also declined to state how his party would respond to a change in the order in which Senators are elected.
In a display of outright hypocrisy, the ALP has also started questioning the legitimacy of Lucy Gichuhi's election, citing the integrity of the Senate as their primary concern.
As it currently stands, neither major party has commented on how they would respond to a change in the order in which SA Senators were elected.
Regarding the next double dissolution election, I have asked 12 Senators from one state how their party would handle the allocation of long and short term seats, in addition to a Labor MP. The Labor MP did not not provide an answer, but indicated a personal preference for the order-elected method, most likely as a way of towing the party line regarding the theft of seats in 2016. A One Nation Senator has indicated support for the recount method, but was mistaken regarding which method was used in 2016. One LNP Senator has responded with a non-answer. Another LNP Senator has responded with a vague answer that could be interpreted as support for the LNP's right to decide after the votes come in, based on whether they have an opportunity to steal more seats or prevent their opponents from doing so, or could be interpreted as support for the order-elected method. No ALP Senators have responded.
South Australia Senate recount could be perfect storm
The South Australian Senate recount could upset a cosy, but thoroughly undemocratic agreement between Labor and the Coalition. Senator Bob Day has been disqualified and stripped of his Senate position, forcing a recount of the South Australian Senate votes from the last federal election. After the election last year, Labor and the Coalition agreed to break a repeated promise they had made to each other and to the Australian public, in the form of two bipartisan Senate resolutions to use a new, fairer method to allocate long term (6 year) Senate terms after a double dissolution election. As a result, they each get an extra Senate seat from 2019 to 2022. In NSW, Labor’s Deborah O’Neill stole a seat from the Greens’ Lee Rhiannon. In Victoria, the Liberal’s Scott Ryan stole a seat from Derryn Hinch.
This was an unusual outcome. Under almost any other circumstances, the major parties would have held each other to account on their promise. If the two vote counting methods produce different outcomes in South Australia, those "other circumstances" could come back to unravel the agreement. If one of the major parties gains or loses a seat because of the vote counting method, there is a good chance that one of them will decide it is no longer in their interest to keep the agreement they made last year. They may decide to keep the promise they repeatedly made to the Australian public. This would of course be acutely embarrassing for them. They managed the media coverage so well last year that almost no media outlets mentioned the broken promises, so they would have a lot of explaining to do.
Fingers crossed for interesting times ahead.
Be heard on 18c and freedom of speech
Please make a submission to the government inquiry into section 18c of the racial discrimination act. You have until December 9. Make a submission online here (button on right of page):
Key points you might want to address:
Scott 'Senate thief' Ryan refuses to return stolen furniture
Broken Promises and Stolen Senate Seats
Labor and the Coalition have gotten away with stealing Senate seats. By decree, they have handed themselves a disproportionate amount of the six year senate terms. They were handed to Labor's Deborah O'Neill and Liberal's Scott Ryan, at the expense of Derryn Hinch and the Greens' Lee Rhiannon. In doing so, they break repeated promises they have made to the Australian public. These promises took the form of two separate but identical Senate resolutions that were passed with support from both Labor and the Coalition in 1998 and 2010. The commercial media facilitated this coup by failing to mention these Senate resolutions in any articles written after Labor and the Coalition announced their plans. There was a long period of time between the announcement and the Senate vote (which the media also failed to report on) in which a more aware Australian public could have held the major parties accountable to their promises. The media quoted major party spokespeople offering a variety of excuses and validations for their actions, but universally failed to report key facts that would have allowed the Australian public to make an informed judgement. No tough questions have been put to the politicians responsible.
This article provides a brief constitutional background and the history of this important electoral reform, details of the 2016 election, the decision to steal Senate seats and the consistent failure by the media to report key facts.
Media asleep at the wheel on stolen senate seats
This update now has a permanent home here:
Media asleep at the wheel on stolen senate seats
Senators Ryan and O'Neill have been invited to respond to this article.
Urgent - please support democracy in the senate
This update now has a permanent home here:
Urgent - please support democracy in the senate
More information here: http://www.ozpolitic.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1471261637
Browsable map of GPS marks
The maps have been updated with the following features:
No app installation required
Check it out here: http://www.ozpolitic.com/fish/map-gps-marks-fishing/index.html
The Heavy Legacies of Our Past
This article explores the legacies of past empires and how they shape the world today. The Roman, Islamic, Spanish, Central American, French and British empires all left a deep and identifiable footprint on modern society and politics. The social institutions that built these empires shape the way we interact with our fellow man. It is my hope that a sound historical perspective will inform the causes of our great failures and successes and encourage us to face up to the challenges and threats that continue to stalk modern civilisation.
Below, I present a brief groundwork of ancient history, a recently developed tool for measuring civilisation, a discussion of the ultimate causes of the rise and fall of the Roman and Islamic empires, Islam’s legacy, context to the European dark ages, the decline of slavery, the role of freedom, democracy, population and technology in wealth creation, Rome’s political legacy, and how the more recent European and native American empires have shaped the modern world.
The cradle of civilisation
Time for the public debate on the economics of climate change
Back in December 2010, the Sustainability Party of Australia and OzPolitic issued our first call to arms on the carbon tax, asking people to write to their local candidates in support of a carbon tax.
At the time our efforts seemed futile. Labor was openly hostile to a tax, probably in response to the Greens adopting a carbon tax policy, and Tony Abbott had steered the coalition to a policy of never putting any kind of price on Carbon. Yet the extraordinary events that followed showed us once again that in politics, anything is possible.
Now we are once again calling on people to support the tax. We are asking people to write to local members and election candidates to voice their support for the tax. We are asking people to finally have the public debate we need on the merits of the tax, without the partisan baggage it attracts. We have 5 months to turn the tide of public opinion.
Again, both major parties seem against us, with Abbott committed to 'direct action' and Labor committed to a change to a trading scheme in 2015. This change has already been legislated as part of the original carbon tax package and will go ahead without new legislation, which means support from one of the major parties. The change will happen in 2015-2016, however the fate of the carbon tax will most likely be determined by the policies that the two major parties go into the next federal election with. Although the odds seem stacked against the carbon tax, the reality is much more complicated. For example, prior to taking control of the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott put considerable effort into promoting a carbon tax. You probably didn't notice at the time because his comments about the ('crap') science of climate change were getting far more attention. Unfortunately, Abbott changed his stance on a carbon tax at around the same time he changed his stance on the science.
Whatever your views are on how we achieved a carbon tax, I believe the reason we ended up with it is that everyone in the game, be they Greens, Labor, Liberal or Nationals, understands the need for action on climate change, they understand that a carbon tax is the best way to achieve that change, but they also see the political toxicity of a tax with a public that does not always understand the counterintuitive yet fundamental economics behind it.
Back when he was happy to be seen as an intellectual economic rationalist, Tony Abbott himself summed up the dilemma:
July 27, 2009:
The fact that people don’t really understand what an emissions trading scheme entails is actually its key political benefit. Unlike a tax, which people would instinctively question, it’s easy to accept a trading scheme supported by businesses that see it as a money-making opportunity and environmentalists who assure people that it will help to save the planet. Forget the contested science and the dubious economics, an emissions trading scheme is brilliant, if hardly-honest politics because people have come to think that it’s a cost-less way to avoid climate catastrophe.
If Australia is greatly to reduce its carbon emissions, the price of carbon intensive products should rise. The Coalition has always been instinctively cautious about new or increased taxes. That’s one of the reasons why the former government opted for an emissions trading scheme over a straight-forward carbon tax. Still, a new tax would be the intelligent skeptic’s way to deal with minimising emissions because it would be much easier than a property right to reduce or to abolish should the justification for it change.
The point of these quotes is that the Coalition policy against carbon pricing in general, or the carbon tax in particular is not as set in stone as many think, despite Abbott's claims that he never supported an emissions trading scheme or a tax. For Labor, this argument is a little easier to make, but still needs to be made. The contrast between the clear economic arguments in favour of a tax and the difficult political reality it faces is the ultimate reason why our path to a carbon tax was so messy, yet far more likely that it appeared. It is also the reason why continued direct personal pressure on your local representatives and candidates is so necessary if we are to keep the tax. Ultimately, politicians have no choice but to bow to public pressure. If we are to keep the tax, we also need to keep the public debate going and progress it as far as possible prior to the upcoming federal election. With the public finally focussed on the economics of climate change rather than the science, there has never been a better opportunity to get the message out that a carbon tax is the cheapest, simplest and most flexible way to reduce emissions.
The state government has released a discussion paper on electoral reform and has invited feedback. Submissions close March 1, 2013. The release of the discussion paper prompted much media interest prior to Christmas, with claims that they would abolish preferential voting.
Click here for a copy of my submission, as well as links to further information. Please make your own submission also.
There are no forms to fill out, however the discussion paper prompts for feedback on many particular issues and suggests options. This can serve as a guide for feedback. Section B7 covers compulsory voting. Section B8 covers optional preferential voting, which is currently used in Queensland. Under this system, it is compulsory to vote, but not to rank all candidates. Section B9 calls for feedback on other matters. I encourage people to submit a response that supports compulsory voting, opposes optional preferential voting in favour of full preferential voting, and proposes that Queensland adopt a 20 member Senate based on voting by delegable proxy. The complete response provided can be used as a guide and you are welcome to copy and modify it as you wish for your own submission. Please also pass this information on to other people you think will be interested.
Some discussions on our forum:
Coalition marine park review released
We finally have an answer to questions raised earlier regarding the intention of the NSW state coalition for marine parks in the state. Prior to the NSW state election, the coalition courted the anti-marine park movement with a curious form of dog whistle politics. They had previously promised to abolish two marine parks if elected. This time they promised a review, which was enough to get the anti marine park movement on the coalition bandwagon. One can only assume that this gained more votes for the coalition than it lost, as they won the election and rewarded the supporters with a review of marine parks. They even stacked the review committee with scientists preferred by the anti marine park movement and controlled what scientific evidence the committee was allowed to consider.
The review is now done. Like all good committees, their first finding was that there should be a committee to carry on doing their job. Their main finding regarding marine parks is that there should be more of them.
The NSW coalition would like to thank the anti marine park movement for making this possible. Despite these sorts of outcomes, the relationship between the coalition and the anti marine park movement has been a long and fruitful one. After the federal coalition established the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, The Fishing Party started a campaign against the park and against marine parks in general. They went into the next federal election with a scare campaign claiming that coastal recreational fishing would be banned outside of the south east corner of Queensland. They gained roughly half a per cent of QLD senate votes. Due to preference distributions, these votes went back to the coalition, helping to deliver them and extra senator in QLD and control of both houses of parliament. The Fishing party did not blink, as it was obviously the fault of the Democrats. They have since abandoned such subtle methods and instead posted banners on the Fishing Party website begging supporters to vote for the coalition and put Labor/Greens last.
Other recommendations by the audit committee include that someone should tell them what marine parks are for and that scientific research be expanded beyond merely monitoring fish stocks in a reactive sense to assessing the sustainability and resilience of our fisheries. Discuss.
Compulsory-optional preferential voting
Q: Why has Labor stopped trying to introduce compulsory-optional preferential voting in more states?
Another carbon tax campaign
First up, a big thank you to everyone who wrote to their local MP back in December 2010 when I put the word out (see below). At the time, the Labor party had signalled upcoming changes to their climate change strategy with a ‘review’.
Now that we have a temporary carbon tax written into law, it is time to send another email or letter to make it permanent. This needs to be done well before the next federal election, while the parties are still mulling over their strategy and before MPs go into ‘parrot mode’. Please make the following requests:
Find your electorate here and follow the links for contact information:
Find your local representative in federal parliament here:
Please contact your senators also:
Green tax shift:
Note that your correspondence will be ignored if it does not include your name and address.
Remember to contact Liberal and Greens candidates as well as the Labor candidates, especially if you are in a marginal seat. Although the Liberal party is currently opposed to both a tax and a trading scheme, there are powerful groups within the party lobbying for change. I suspect that going into (or coming out of) the next federal election, the Liberal party will have the more rational approach of supporting the carbon tax, while Labor and the Greens may stick with their policy of switching to a cap and trade scheme. We may end up in a situation of having the best policy, despite none of our parties actually wanting it, thus allowing them all to blame each other (in the short term at least – they will all want to take credit once the public accepts the tax).
Excluding one sector of the economy (eg retail petrol sales) undermines the effectiveness of the carbon tax, which relies on encouraging emissions reductions where it is cheapest. We miss cheap and easy opportunities to reduce petrol consumption while relying on more expensive options in other sectors to reach our emissions reduction targets.
Switching to a cap and trade scheme will introduce great uncertainty for individuals and businesses considering investing in emissions reduction. So far the trend overseas has been for emissions reductions to be far easier than expected, causing the price under cap and trade schemes to fall, thus eliminating the incentive for any further reductions. The uncertainty introduced will favour short term ‘quick fixes’ over well considered long term changes.
A cap and trade scheme will eliminate opportunities to reduce the GST, income tax and other unnecessary taxes using the revenue raised by the carbon tax. Furthermore, a cap and trade scheme creates a huge economic liability for our society, as the government will be forced to buy back permits at inflated prices (as has happened with commercial fishing licences for example).
Coalition climate change policy
Should Australia become a republic?
NSW coalition to destroy marine parks, or make more?
UPDATE: The NSW coalition has released a recreational fishing policy in response to questions about their stance on marine parks. They have reversed their position on the Batemans and Port Stephens marine parks. They no longer plan to abolish these. Beyond that, the policy contains little detail on marine parks, just vague criticism of the Labor party's marine park policy and empty rhetoric. It leaves all options open to the party, from 'no more marine parks' to 'lock up the entire coastline' (and this is without allowing for more backflips). The anti marine park lobby is however claiming it as a victory, and there is no doubt that is pushes all the right buttons for them. With a victory looking likely for the coalition, it will be interesting to see what their policy really means. What do you think?
In the runup to the 2007 NSW state election, national party candidates promised to abolish the Port Stephens and Batemans marine parks. No such promises are being made this election, and the party did not respond to enquiries about these two marine parks. Perhaps the chance of victory has lead them to reign in their more 'colourful' candidates.
The NSW state coalition has however garnered the full support of the anti marine park lobby for this election, who are telling anyone who will listen that they will ban more marine parks. What the coalition has actually promised is of course somewhat different:
Also in the policy was more detail of the plan to put marine parks on hold.
Four advisory panels would be set up to advise on the areas under assessment, in consultation with the community and industry, who would have access to peer-reviewed scientific evidence of threats to marine biodiversity.
The panels would develop socio-economic impact statements for each area, as well as a "displacement policy".
"As a last resort, if such consultation and negotiation does not reduce impacts below levels that are reasonably compensable, then compensation, structural adjustment or other appropriate measures will be delivered before any constraints on fishing are implemented," the policy statement says.
The coalition appears to be appealing to both camps here, though they have obviously found a more receptive audience in the anti marine park lobby. No doubt the promises to abolish marine parks at the last election is contributing to this, even though not a word is being said about it now. The fishing party and the various lobbies opposed to marine parks must be getting so desperate for validation that they gloat over any crumbs the major parties will feed them. They even hold up some recently created marine parks in Tasmania as evidence of the coalition's pro recreational fishing stance, because they are so far offshore that they don't bother most recreational fishermen. Of course, these parks were established by the federal coalition government in federal waters and were never going to be close to shore anyway. One case where the federal coalition did upset recreational fishermen with marine parks is the Great Barrier Reef, which is largely credited with the rise of the fishing party from micro party to minor party.
It is unusual to see self proclaimed sceptics proclaiming a 'promise' like this one from a politician as some kind of victory, especially from the party that gave them the Great Barrier Reef marine parks. One answer might come from the handouts that were promised. In a policy that promised compensation as a last resort, $15 million in grants were promised. Of this, only about $1 million goes to recreational fishermen to set up a 'representative body'. There are no doubt several leaders of the anti marine park lobby already lined up to be on the board of this peak body and finally get the recognition they deserve. Who says you can't buy votes? Several other such representative bodies have fallen over lately because funding was not continued, or because people realised they do not actually represent most fishermen, or because the government simply stopped paying attention to what they said.
The coalition has not promised to make their consultation process better or even different to that of labor, as this would involve acknowledging that there are no substantive differences in the policy so far. They have promised only to do the same sort of assessment again. Given the lengthy time frames involved in setting up marine parks (due to the now well established consultation processes), the inability of the coalition to rule out more marine parks in the span of a single term leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
I think it is time for both sides of the marine park debate to demand real answers from the coalition.
Read about the fishing party's senate preferences and their unusual relationship with the coalition over the last few elections here.
Carbon Tax Back on the Agenda
After abandoning the ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’, the federal government is now reconsidering its approach to climate change. The current review is not about the science, nor is it about emissions reduction targets. Rather, it is about the mechanism used to achieve those reductions (ie, should we use a carbon tax, an emissions trading scheme, plant some trees, or start a drum circle?). This is probably our last opportunity to get it right. Hopefully the government has realised that going down the emissions trading path was a mistake. On the plus side, both politicians and the media are far more willing to use the T word (tax), though they tend to use it interchangeably with an emissions trading scheme. On the down side, Labor may have painted itself into a corner by responding to emails about the issue with an attack on carbon taxes. The criticism was nonsensical at best and obviously motivated by purely political factors (ie the failure of the CPRS, which was a watered down trading scheme, and the introduction by the Greens of a bill to set up a simple tax on emissions). Let’s hope for a backflip.
Please contact your local representative in federal parliament and ask them to consider a revenue neutral emissions tax. This means the revenue raised is used to lower other taxes, such as the GST or income tax. This is the most economically rational approach and is backed by Marius Kloppers, CEO of BHP, and most economists. For any given reduction target, this will have the least impact on the economy and may even benefit us.
Find your electorate here and follow the links for contact information:
Find your local representative in federal parliament here:
Please contact your senators also:
Discuss – a carbon tax is better than cap and trade:
Green tax shift:
Tony Abbott has been busy destroying the coalition's reputation for sound economic management, with his 'carrots grow on trees' response to Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Meanwhile, Christine Milne has been busy destroying the Greens' reputation for being a bunch of deluded hippies. Out of the three proposals, hers is by far the best from an economic perspective. It is not the Greens' official policy on climate change. Rather, it is Ross Garnaut's recommendation for an interim flat tax on carbon. Hopefully it gains a bit of momentum, given the low probability of Rudd getting his absurdly convoluted scheme off the ground.
Meanwhile, the QLD government has not only forced us into an unnecessary and expensive water supply solution (while still giving water away for almost nothing), they have gone one step further and signed us onto a contract that forces us to run desalination plants when they are not needed, consuming vast quantities of electricity that results in more pollution, while our dams are overflowing.
Some new articles:
Coalition climate change policy
Should Australia become a republic?
Embarrassing ourselves internationally (whaling)
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I have updated the article on the role of Christianity in the foundations of early science with a list of famous scientists and their religious beliefs.
I have added some maps showing examples of marine parks as a fisheries management tool.
I have added a comparison table of major party policies for the Sustainability Party of Australia.
Having trouble finding an old thread on the forum? Try here.
Jon Nevill has kindly supplied an article on Destructive Fishing Practices.
I have written an article on marine parks as a fisheries management tool.
I am in the process of updating the gardening section with photos, new articles (Basil, Coriander, Parsley, Fennel, Trees, Bunya Pine, Inga (Ice Cream) Bean, Macadamia, Papaya, Banana), and extra content in the old articles.
I have added a Frequently Asked Questions page to the green tax shift articles.
Find out about a green tax shift as a solution to global warming, local and global electoral reform issues, sustainability through gardening, the Australian People's Party and why evolution should not be taught in high school science classes. See the links in the left hand pane.
Now that our government has at least acknowledged the reality of global warming, it is time to start considering our options for how to alleviate it. When it comes to government policies, economists have a lot to offer. You would be surprised at how good the news is:
There is a tendency among activists to focus on what are ultimately symptoms of society's problems, while ignoring the underlying causes and solutions. We are committed to promoting meaningful, effective change for the betterment of society.
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