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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

dreaming of a lost age   July 18, 2014

Carbon pricing has gone but it lives on in the form of a battle about decreases in the cost of living and the Coalition's new fear campaign that Labor wants to bring back "the carbon tax" (ie., an emissions trading scheme) at the next election. The conservative cultural warriors claim an iconic victory. Mission Accomplished.

What survives still is the Climate Change Authority, Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Renewable Energy Target. For how long? The fossil fuel industry wants this architecture gone in order to protect its declining profits. The mining industry and polluters call it "damaging the economy".

RoweDFossilfuel.jpg David Rowe

The Coalition appear to think that they have voted climate change away. They and the coal industry is in for a surprise since their massive Galilee Basin mining proposals look set to go the way of Olympic Dam: pipe dreams of another age. The Canberra Press Gallery has yet to figure this out.

Continue reading "dreaming of a lost age" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:40 AM | | Comments (6)
a dead end for the economy   July 17, 2014

The Coalition has a short term budget problem and its rhetoric is becoming increasingly shrill about needing to fix its fiscal imbalance now. If this doesn't happen then the country will go backwards.

The short term budget problem results from cutting revenue (from carbon pricing and the mining tax) and the possibility of its cuts to government expenditure not getting through the Senate. Well, the Coalition could act to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and slush funds for polluters; or infrastructure builds to facilitate coal export profits. After all China and India, Australia's biggest target customers for export coal, are moving away from coal to renewable energy on an industry scale.

MoirAWaitingforCarbonTax.jpg Alan Moir

At this stage the Senate looks likely to block a number of savings measures, including lowering the tax-free threshold from $19,400; the scrapping of family tax benefits and other welfare changes; the scrapping of the low-income superannuation contribution boost; the axing of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency; and the indexation of the age pension. These saving measures are primarily going after low- and middle-income families in the form of winding back the welfare state.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:29 AM |
creating political drama   July 16, 2014

The Palmer United Party is currently using its balance of power in the Senate moment to frustrate the Abbott Government. The rationale for this strategy, as Jack Waterford points out is:

is to attract the ultimate loyalty of 14 per cent of the vote, not 50 per cent. Every unsuccessful measure or rejection of some Coalition attempt to pander to one of its lobbies, such as the big banks, reinforces the government's unpopularity and increases Palmer's popularity and scrapbook.

I think that Waterford goes too far. Sure, Palmer is creating maximum drama but so far he ends up supporting the Coalition after extracting minimal cobbled-together concessions during chaotic backroom meetings from which all stakeholders are excluded.

RoweDFofo.jpg David Rowe

A good example is Palmer's wheeling and dealing over the Coalition's attempts to roll back Labor's financial advice reforms so as to favour the interest of finance capital at the expense of consumers. Palmer sided with the Coalition and the minor amendments make little difference to ensure consumer protection.

Continue reading "creating political drama" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:06 AM | | Comments (9)
it's not going to be roses   July 14, 2014

So the Coalition's proposed policy switch from carbon pricing to Direct Action this week amounts to a shift from taking money from polluters and distributing it to taxpayers to taking money from taxpayers and handing it out to polluters. The Coalition is increasing corporate welfare for the big polluters such as the fossil fuel industry.

The significance of the carbon tax fear campaign that was waged by the Coalition and business is to trash tomorrow in order to make profits today. The Coalition calls it 'rescuing the country.'

PopeDnegotiations.jpg David Pope

Now Abbott did claim that grocery prices would go up by $10 a week with a carbon price; that the price of a new home would jump $6000; and that the cost of running a farm would leap $12,000 a year. Yet the carbon tax has played only a small part in the increase in power prices and so getting rid of it won't fix the problem.

Continue reading "it's not going to be roses" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:54 AM | | Comments (12)
learning the ropes   July 9, 2014

We have a new Senate in Canberra with an increased number of Independents and the two major parties--Labor and Liberal --- are not happy as they are beginning to realize that they've lost control over their third senate spot. So the attacks on the micro-parties begin.

The Coalition has the biggest problem as it must negotiate with the cross bench Senators to get their roll back legislation into law. So far the Coalition has tried to bludgeon its way through, with little success. The Coalition is going to have to learn to work collaboratively and consultatively with the crossbench senators.

RoweDSenate.jpg David Rowe

The majority rule crowd have little time for a Senate that sees itself as an important check on government power. The Senate should support the Coalition's agenda without hesitation. So the Coalition will endeavour to ensure that there is a falling out between Palmer and one or more of his underlings within the next few years.

Continue reading "learning the ropes" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:52 PM | | Comments (8)
SA Labor: a political crisis   July 4, 2014

SA Labor, after its return to government, has adopted a management tone of measured, controlled, rational adminstration. This confidence and competence has been thrown out of kilter with the toxic groundwater beneath Clovelly Park adjacent to the Monroe shock absorbers plant and the old Mitsubishi site; and the need to relocate the housing trust tenants from contaminated homes in order to protect their health, which is at risk due potential airborne carcinogen from the toxic groundwater pollution.

It is a political crisis because the he Government (and the Housing Trust and the council?) knew about the unduly high toxicity levels since May, and they hadn’t yet notified the residents. Presumably because the Weatherill Labor Government is confident residents’ health would not have been, and is unlikely to be adversely affected from exposure to trichloroethylene ((TCE)) at such relatively low levels.

Still government ministers have admitted they knew for weeks about rising levels of TCE in Clovelly Park houses, the need to relocate residents, and the lack of remediation. It's the delay and inaction in informing the housing trust tenants that gives rise to the political crisis.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:27 PM | | Comments (1)
Coalition: "reward the lifters” and “discourage the leaners”   June 30, 2014

The Coalition's rhetoric around welfare reform is harsh.

It says that Australia's welfare system is unsustainable (even though the welfare state is actually shrinking). The rhetoric says that it is unfair to keep a welfare system intact that is not encouraging participation and personal responsibility. It is up to individuals in the community to accept responsibility for their lives and their destiny.

Reform is needed, this rhetoric holds, because the long-term unemployed and the disabled are deemed by the politicians to be part of a "something-for-nothing culture". The receipt of benefits is a lifestyle choice that breeds intergenerational poverty, imposes a burden on the taxpayer, and constitutes a national crisis. Poverty is the result of people making the wrong choices and not working hard.

RoweDwelfarereform.jpg David Rowe

In this neo-liberal ‘workfare’ rhetoric welfare is a term of abuse whilst the blaming and shaming is designed to encourage or "nudge" people into changing their behaviour by getting a job. Even though the neo-liberals know that most poverty is caused by economic factors over which individuals have little or no control, they continue to say that the "leaners" are the cause of their own misfortune because they didn't put in the hard yards to get ahead and improve themselves. The recipients’ of welfare have a social obligation to prove themselves worthy beneficiaries.

Continue reading "Coalition: "reward the lifters” and “discourage the leaners”" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:55 PM | | Comments (4)
a Liberal victory?   June 29, 2014

There is a lot of nonsense written about Clive Palmer on climate change policy. The Canberra Press Gallery focuses on the politics and interprets it in terms of smoke and mirrors by the showman seeking to increase his public profile. It's the image that counts.

PopeAbbottcarbontaxfinished.jpg David Pope

Those on the political right concentrate on the removal of carbon pricing (the "Carbon tax" is axed) and assume that nirvana is just around the corner. It's a grand victory for the climate do-nothings in the Coalition and all the rest is a sideshow, rather than a political headache.

Continue reading "a Liberal victory?" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:24 AM | | Comments (3)
being taken for a fool   June 25, 2014

The Abbott Coalition still appears to have one style of governance. Bash the doors down, yell at the buffons to clear a passage way and kick those who get in the way. It comes across as tactics of the bully boy throwing his weight around.

I cannot see these techniques being a successful negotiating strategy to deal with the Senate acting as a house of review. Trying to pushing senators around is just going to get the cross bench Senators backs up.

RoweDAbbottCars.jpg David Rowe

The Coalition's assumption is that once the Green/Labor control of the Senate passes and the new Senate takes its place the Independents and PUP will fall in line quickly and pass all the Coalition's legislation to wind back Labor's reforms.

Continue reading "being taken for a fool" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:17 AM | | Comments (9)