Tag Archives: Carbon Pricing

News That’s Fit To Punt – 03/Sep/2014

Why? Because Fuck You

Everything this Federal Government does is tainted by a sort of grubby conflict of interest. Of course that’s not confined to the Federal Government, because the greater conflict of interest might actually be Clive Palmer who owns a dirty big mining company, gets to make deals where a tax like the mining tax can get repealed. It’s hard to imagine a more egregious and gratuitous case of helping yourself because you can.

The deal has meant that the government will halt the rise of superannuation. Naturally, with the sensibility of a cheesy movie villain, Tony Abbott tried to sell this as more cash in hand for employees which, frankly made me choke on my lunch. I’m sorry to tell you Mr. Prime Minister, but that’s money that’ll stay in the pockets of companies. Paul Keating has lambasted the government but honestly, if he wanted to still have a meaningful voice, he should’ve stayed on in parliament after 1996.

The repeal of the Mining Tax was of course one of the platforms of the Coalition so we ought not be surprised, but really, it is pretty disgusting how the Coalition are totally happy to sell out Australian citizens in favour of a gaggle of mining billionaires – Clive Palmer among them – and try to sell it as being good for the worker. Can it get any worse?

Yes it can. Here’s how.

An Inconvenient Ruse

The emissions for energy generation jumped the most in eight years, since the end of the carbon tax.

So much for Al Gore coming to lend a hand in fighting the good fight against global warming. Thanks to the repeal, polluters have gone back to a kind of burn-baby-burn mentality and now it’s out of control. Of course the plan by this government is also to smash the renewables industry, and directly pay these polluters to stop polluting.

It’s like government by stupidity. You’d never have guessed thing would get this bad. No sane mind would have guess it would get this bad. But this unrelenting awfulness – “Operation Ongoing Enormous Clusterfuck” according to FDOM – was their platform! Grin and bear it.

Pink Batts Coming Home To Roost

Pleiades swung this one at me today. The best bit of news might be how the Royal Commission into the Pink Batts has yielded interesting results. In as much as it was a blatant witch hunt, it looks like it delivered a result that was assumed by the proponents of the Commission. Here’s something from Crikey which is behind a pay wall:

 

First, Hanger found the training regime and regulations at the time of the first of four fatalities in October 2009 to have been seriously inadequate:
“With the exception of South Australia, which had a licensing regime for insulation installers, there was no insulation-industry specific regulation beyond the generally applicable occupational health and safety regulation.”
But here’s the thing: then-minister for the environment Peter Garrett and his staff had spent most of 2009 tightening regulations and procedures. Hanger listed more than 40 interventions to address safety deficiencies — all completed before October. So if the safety framework was still deficient by then, it must have been woefully, if not criminally, inadequate prior to 2008. Having presided over industry growth to the level of about 200,000 new and existing houses insulated annually, the previous Coalition government cannot escape culpability.

Secondly, Hanger opened wide the door to those wanting compensation for the program’s sudden termination:
“I find as follows:
“… the effect of the losses was to devastate many long-standing businesses … and to cause as well personal financial collapse and severe despair and emotional harm;
“that harm and such circumstances justifies pre-existing businesses being compensated.”
If compensation is won, it will be the Abbott government scrambling to find the funds.
This has a certain rough justice about it, of course. There is an argument that the scheme was not intrinsically dangerous and was not failing, rather that it suffered from extreme misreporting from the outset, by both Coalition MPs and a feral media.

Thirdly, the Commissioner was scathing about Abbott’s staff in the course of the inquiry:
“The Commonwealth did not suggest one witness that ought to be called. It did not generally volunteer documents that were not the subject of a summons to produce. It did not elicit any evidence of its own volition. All of this is despite the fact that it was the repository of the critical documents and the corporate knowledge of what had transpired.”

Not even Peter Garrett copped such a shellacking:
“Furthermore, the Commonwealth hampered the work of those assisting me by the way in which documents were produced … Other than in response to a specific request from the Commission, there seemed no logic in the order in which documents were produced. The Commission asked that documents be produced chronologically, however the Commonwealth did not oblige.”

Finally, the Commissioner made it clear that if the federal government initiated the program, then safety is definitely its problem. Never mind the long history of state responsibility.
“There was much debate about whether workplace health and safety issues were a matter that was of any concern to the Australian Government, or whether it was more properly the concern of the States and Territories. It was said, by a number of federal public servants, that the Australian Government had no regulatory power in the field of workplace health and safety, and therefore that it was not a risk that the Australian Government could control. In my view, this attitude was deplorable.”

That means occupational health and safety is now firmly a problem for the Federal Government. Every time somebody dies in an accident, he article suggests a ministerial head is going to roll. Worse still, the responsibility for the failure didn’t just get sheeted home to the Rudd Government, it also got sheeted home to the Howard Government, and last I checked Tony Abbott was the health minister in the government. This thing is going to boomerang right back at him.

The Housing Bubble That Isn’t But Of Which We Must Be Wary

For months – no make that years! -we’ve been hearing that Australia does not have a housing bubble problem. All the economists who have come and pointed out the great anomalies of housing prices in Australia have been laughed out of the public discourse while the anomalies only get bigger. As late as last month Glenn Stevens of the RBA was talking down any possibility that what we had on our hands was an actual bubble! No, he simply reiterated that sometimes the property market goes down. This month he’s taking a different tack and saying there might be nasty shocks. Included in that link is a bit covering China where he cites a downturn in China might manifest itself as a nasty shock. If that wasn’t enough, David Gonski of the ANZ Bank told the Australian British Chamber of Commerce that booming prices cannot possibly continue forever (now there‘s a brave call).

And lo an behold there’s news that China’s real estate market is going screwy. Some might even say it is crashing like it was a Global Financial Crisis. Speaking of crashing, the commodities market in China is crashing. I wonder if those things combined would form this so-called ‘Nasty Shock’ Glenn Stevens is talking about? Or will Sydney’s housing prices simply just shrug it off and keep climbing?

Stay tuned for more fun!

 

 

 

 

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Torpedo Clive

Sinking Abbott’s Boats

If yesterday was eventful and humiliating for the Coalition government, then today must have been a gourmet meal built around a shit sandwich from Clive Palmer. Essentially, the Palmer United Party thwarted the government’s third attempt to repeal the Carbon Tax.

The Pulse during the day made for interesting reading as things went awry for the Abbott Government. Reading the entires it seems really clear that the Coalition promised to word it in a particular way, and then in classic sophist-fashion, welshed on the deal by changing the wording which got the ire of Clive Palmer.

Late in the day Pleiades gave me a heads up about how Clive Palmer was on 702 later in the afternoon, talking to Richard Glover. The interesting thing is that Palmer says he was double-crossed by the Coalition in the wording and so he simply wouldn’t support the Carbon Tax repeal bill that was so important to the Coalition. He then went onto say he won’t support the co-payment to doctors, and h would rather cut the 45billion off the NBN, 20billion off the Paid Parental Leave being proposed, and 37billion dollars ear-marked for Japanese submarines, than have the Co-Payment.

Here’s an interesting article on the day’s proceedings from Tony Wright. Tony Abbott has a huge problem on his hands and he can’t control it. He can now call a double dissolution but his polls are so dire he dare not. What threadbare preposterous notions the Coalition might have had as policy is being torn asunder. It’s well-deserved, but it’s going to cripple his government. He’s not going to be able to game Clive Palmer out of the game quickly.

Pleiades had an interesting observation. He thinks Clive Palmer probably sees the end of coal fire and fossil fuels around the globe and wants to get into renewables; but to do so, he wants there to be a market for him to function within and that means retaining the outlines for an ETS. From that angle you can begin to understand the how and why of his road to Damascus conversion on an ETS and not removing the emissions target. In any case, things are only going to get more interesting for the Abbott Government. The inability of the Coalition to negotiate anything is starting to look like a major stumbling block in them getting their policies through.

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Give The New Guys A Chance

Surprise! Not Your Villain du Jour

Ricky Muir – he of the Roo-Poo flinging Youtube videos and much media ridicule – entered Parliament House as a new Senator this week. By 10:30am this morning he had made news, first by not letting the Abbott Government have its way by steam-rolling the Carbon tax repeal. In a surprise move, Muir broke ranks with the Palmer United to defeat the government’s motion to force a vote on the the Carbon Price repeal. After lunch, he sided with Palmer United and voted to preserve ARENA, which, surprised most onlookers.

Maybe Mr. Muir was going to surprise everybody any way. The way he had been portrayed by the media made him look like a dimwit yokel, but I felt at the time it was a beat up. By hook or crook, we in the electorate seem to have managed to send a totally ordinary citizen into the Senate. If our chief complaint is professionalised politicians, then surely we have to leave some ground open for rank outsiders to come in and have a look for themselves. While Mr. Muir didn’t look promising going in, partly because of the immense vagueness of his party’s platform, this week so far shows that he may yet turn out to be a reasonable, centrist man to have in the senate to balance views. So far his two major contributions don’t seem to be those of an ideological extremist or a radicalised desperado.

The other surprising tidbit that emerged during the week was how Glenn Lazarus – aka The Brick with Eyes – was instrumental in bringing Clive Palmer to the middle of the debate so that the emissions target would be kept. This was remarkable in as much as it showed the Palmer United Party is not Clive Palmer’s puppet show, and that in turn he was somebody who was going to be persuaded by his new senators.

Again, it’s hard to imagine just what would bring a retired Rugby League great into politics in this way – especially after Mal Meninga made a famously bad attempt at it – but it is clearly evident we can’t be dismissing him on the basis of his previous career or his current party affiliation. The fact of the matter is we don’t know much about the policy position of the Palmer United Party simply because the party is so new and everything seems to be made up on the fly. They can conjure Al Gore from a hat, so who are we to judge what they can accomplish? The PUP Senators represent an open end, rather than a closed, conservative alternative.

The silver lining on the generally angry black storm cloud that is the Abbott Government is that the Senate is so fractured that it’s just going to have to fight out every policy morsel on its merits. This means that it can’t bundle together things hoping for a horse trade. This Senate is fractious enough already that if anything it’s going to be more parsing and demanding than previous Senates. This means that while the Carbon Pricing will likely be repealed, it is going to get replaced with an ETS of some description – even if it is priced to zero until certain conditions are met. It’s quite the circus, but the point is that the Abbott government will find out just how little an endorsement it got from the electorate for it to be able to claim any kind of mandate. Our hopes actually rest with Ricky Muir and Glenn Lazarus being centrist, reasonable people. It’s a far cry from the Democrats but they may well turn out to be more credible and laudable in the history books than Meg Lees and Natasha Stott-Despoja.

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Here Comes The DLP

The Liberal’s Own Fracture

As a progressive of sorts, I’m sick of bagging out the ALP. I wish they’d do better but they won’t. They won’t because they’re who they are at this minute in history and more’s the shame. It’s been interesting watching the Libs this year doing their best to keep their noses clean and names out of the paper. Even Tony Abbott has been making himself scarce (as if that’s going to convince undecided progressives to vote for him), but occasionally something bursts to the surface.

This week it was leaked that Alex Hawke doesn’t think much of Abbott’s parental leave scheme. This is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a sign that the Liberals under Tony Abbott are not a monolithic right. It appears, there’s a sort of spectrum of Wet Malcolm, Soggy-Bottom Joe Hockey, Dry Tony Abbott, Fresh-Wheatbix Julie Bishop, and Bone-Dry Alex Hawke. And we have to remind ourselves that the drier they are the whiter and more private-school they get (unless of course they’re the scion of escaped European Fascists, it won’t matter what their school ties looked like).

Secondly, it is interesting that the reason they don’t like it is because the architecture of the plan so to speak hinges on taking the 3200 top companies to pay for it, and try as they might some people on the right just can’t stand the thought of another tax. Now, it appears to me that this kind of tax the big companies and pay the people dosh mentation is largely of the old DLP mold, so it surprises me none that Tony Abbott thinks this is the way to go, and for Joe Hockey to concur. (“Do you concur?” “Sorry?” “Do you concur!?”)

The other news from the Liberal side is that not only are they likely to repeal the Carbon Tax, some would want to abandon their ‘Direct Action’ policy – which interestingly enough involved taxing the biggest polluters – which is a bit like the gun lobby wanting to repeal gun laws in Australia:

Two Liberal MPs want Tony Abbott to review or consider abandoning parts of his $3.2 billion plan to combat climate change in light of ”dire economic circumstances”.

Mal Washer and Dennis Jensen made the comments about the Coalition’s Direct Action plan in the same week MPs broke ranks to publicly criticise Mr Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme as economically irresponsible.

Western Australian MP Mal Washer said: ”If we are not going to get a big environmental bang for our buck then we ought not to do it. The policy needs to be reviewed and only the valuable parts need to be retained … in light of dire economic circumstances.” Dr Washer added that he agreed with the tree planting initiatives in the scheme.

I guess the point there is that there  are some pretty crazy people on the right end of the conservative side of politics and it’s a miracle they don’t all jump ship and join Bob Katter or Clive Palmer. (This has already happened on the Left – and let’s be honest, that’s what the Greens are: the political hidey-hole for old time communists and assorted marxists, Lesbian Separatists, piratical whale-huggers, disorderly tree-huggers, illustrated people with socially unacceptable piercings and consciousness-altered hippies and dope fiends… You know, the people who used to make up the ALP Left faction).

The great irony in all of this is that the current carbon pricing policy is something the coalition came up with way back when and Kevin Rudd co-opted it in order to win the election. Now, that was a famous drubbing, but that shouldn’t mean the Carbon Tax should be against the Liberal Party’s ideological framework of free markets unless of course it is even more important for the Liberal Party to be the party of climate change scepticism. Of course, Tony Abbott himself is famously a climate change sceptic which not only robs him of intellectual credibility, it robs him of having a mandate when he wins this September.

But here’s the thing. This model of taxing the biggest companies and handing out the spoils is classic old school Leftist thinking – like, the splittist Democratic Labour Party of old. After all, Tony Abbott cites B.A Santamaria as his political inspiration. It’s exctly the kind of policy style that B.A would have approved. It’s a bit of a miracle the WASP types in the Liberals have tolerated Tony Abbott and his DLP ways until now. And maybe now that they’re so confident they are about to win, they want to re-stack the policy deck.

I guess all this goes to show it is pretty deplorable that the ALP had to be forced to the table by a hung Parliament to put through the Carbon tax by the aforementioned Greens, and then utterly failed to sell it. Now that they are about to lose badly, it’s all going to get undone and the climate sceptics are going to have their day, which is tragic.

Maybe they can take comfort in the fact that their old time brethren/apostates of the DLP have infiltrated the Liberals and are putting in policy on their behalf. You sort of wonder how the old Masons look at all this. I guess it’s no surprise hyper-WASP Malcolm Fraser walked out on the Liberal Party. What kind of Liberal Party is it with a Jesuit at the helm?

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HAP-less In Australia

Household Assistance Package

A few weeks ago I went to a focus group and it turns out it really was the government trying to suss out how to gauge their ads for the Household Assistance Package. I tell you, it was Hilary Hilaroid and the Hilarities; they asked what they thought of various words. When they said ‘packages’, I told them it reminded me of male genitals. After that, they stopped noting my input. I see that somehow they ended up using the word, in spite of my good advice. 🙂

At least they say “Millions of Australians… instead of “Six million Australians…” – That was sensible of them.

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