Archive for July, 2010

Will Rudd have the gall to campaign

July 30, 2010

The big question is:
will Kevin Rudd now have the gall to campaign for Julia Gillard?

The Australian former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is recovering in a Brisbane hospital after having an operation to remove his gallbladder.

Kevin Rudd was taken to the Mater Private Hospital around lunchtime yesterday after complaining of acute stomach pains.

He was operated on last night and is expected to stay in hospital for a couple of days.

Mr Rudd’s spokesman says he plans to resume election campaigning next week.

More money down a green drain

July 26, 2010

Billions lost for a green cause

This looks suspiciously like another home insulation disaster. Let us see how this gets attention.

The errors, which are known to the CSIRO and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, make it likely that builders, designers and those looking to build a house are making wrong decisions, a leading scientist in energy efficiency told The Australian.

Professor Williamson said the issue posed serious financial consequences as the combined cost of building homes to the energy efficiency required by the software was more than $6 billion a year. He said Energy Efficiency Minister Penny Wong and the Gillard government should withdraw the software from use pending further investigation.

Yet again, the real cost to our economy of carbon mitigation is never properly understood. The  ABC’s Q&A just last night was a glaring example of how both politicians and the public have no idea of the cost of their green dream.



Gillard’s Cash for Clunkers scheme

As I was saying, there is no limit to the waste of money in pursuing the green dream. The latest Gillard scheme, the “cash for clunkers” $2000 freebee, to change a pre-1995 car for a new one, has been calculated to cost $394 per tonne of emissions abated, compared to the anticipated $20 for the failed national emmissions trading scheme.

Even the Melbourne Age has published a critical analysis of this foolish policy, quoting the ultra green British journalist George Monbiot on a similar scheme in his country; “you’d get almost as much value for money by reclassifying £10 notes as biomass and burning them in power stations”.

ABC spruiks carbon tax

July 22, 2010

One eyed Fran does it again

Fran Kelly was at it again this morning, spruiking global warming, carbon taxes and encouraging the Gillard government to take tough action, in spite of acknowledging that this “has already played a major role in the political downfall of two prime ministers, John Howard and Kevin Rudd, and two opposition leaders, Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull”.

So, to discuss the urgency of introducing something—anything—to stop global warming, Fran invited the “economist” Dr Richard Denniss, Executive Director of the Australia Institute onto the programme. Dr Denniss comes with good credentials. Not flagged in the introduction by Fran, is the fact that he is an activist [on the good side], that he has worked as Strategy Adviser to the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown and as Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja. To top it off, Dr Denniss is also the co-author of the best selling Affluenza with Dr Clive Hamilton [another darling of the ABC]. But, being ABC listeners, I presume we were supposed to know these things already.

Fran raised the issue of the Prime Minister’s Citizens Assembly. Her worry of course  is that it might come up with the wrong answer. But, how can that be, when the whole idea of such an Assembly is precisely to get the answer you wanted in the first place? It has been done before.

Dr Denniss found this an appalling policy, “a new excuse” to do nothing. It was time, he said …  “to move forward”. Ouch! He reminded us that in 2007 “the overwhelming majority of the population wanted action on climate change”. To her credit, Fran tried to explain to him that this had changed since then because of Copenhagen amongst others things. Presumably, Dr Denniss hasn’t read the recent Gallaxy poll that shows that two-thirds of Australians now doubt the scientific consensus on global warming and that they  are no longer confident they’re hearing all the facts.

Nevertheless, Dr Denniss called for a stop to “building coal fired power stations”. Recall that he was introduced to the programme as an economist. “It’s her [Gillard’s] job to tell people that they have to take it on the chin, and we have to move forward with her. It’s what the vaste majority of the population want”!!

Fran should invite Professor Bob Carter onto the programme to restore some balance and explain a few facts about the present situation on global warming. Professor Carter is certainly the most articulate and informed scientist in Australia to provide an alternative view, but unfortunately he has been effectively banned from the ABC.

We know that Fran would never want to break the picket-line however. Nor is she in the least interested in genuine balance.

Economic reform not on offer

July 19, 2010

Not quite leader we are hoping for

It would seem that many of the conservative commentators have nailed Tony Abbott’s weaknesses, and it doesn’t look good for the Liberals.

Michael Stutchbury sums it all up in a telling article:

TONY Abbott has branded himself a muscular “direct action” politician.

Yet he is now vowing no action against Julia Gillard’s re-regulation of the job market … Abbott has little interest in the pro-market policies required to exploit Australia’s new growth opportunities.

All up, Abbott is retreating from the economic agenda championed by the Liberal Party over the past quarter of a century.

The pity of it is that Abbott’s successful run for the leadership at the end of last year was all about taking a brave line against the ETS, Labor, and the paralysis of group think. His brilliant stance at the time was even suggested as a possible inspiration for David Cameron of the British Conservative Party, to avoid the universal tendency for opposing political parties everywhere to roll into the cosy centre of the bed with market-research driven, bland, populist policy positions.

This tendence, and subsequent lack of real choice, is deeply disappointing.

How the Left hate Ayaan Hirsi Ali

July 18, 2010

Hilary McPhee’s prejudice confirmed

It’s a little late, and sad, that the Left, in the guise of a silly review by Hilary McPhee, should be ringing the lepers bell for Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s already sold out talk in Melbourne later this month.

Hilary McPhee is one of our commentariat who blamed John Howard for the brutal killing of innocent Australians in Bali by Islamic terrorists.  So it comes as no surprise that, in the guise of a book review of the remarkable autobiography Infidel and the latest reflection, Nomad, to mark Hirsi Ali’s visit to Melbourne, she attacks with barely disguised contempt the brave woman who would know more than Hilary could ever dream of about the vile aspects of Islam that make millions of women’s lives nightmares and turn Islamic extremists into fanatical murderers.

What does Hilary think? Well, she thinks Hirsi Ali’s books “aren’t much good”, that they are “disturbing and delusional”, a “gift to those of us who like our prejudices confirmed” — speaking for yourself Hilary? — and that they fail to give us “a more complex and sympathetic picture of the Muslim world”.

She feels the books fail to remind us “that more than 50 countries from Indonesia to Iran through Africa and the Middle East have Muslim majorities and vastly different cultures and histories”. McPhee is clearly oblivious to the progressive and systematic radicalization and cultural colonization of these “diverse” countries by Middle Eastern fundamentalists in the last few decades.

Hilary complains that “a perspective on the role played by poverty, illiteracy and rural conservatism is missing”. Well, Hilary McPhee has lived in the Middle East. Where is her analysis of the role Islamic cultural values play in creating poverty, illiteracy and rural conservatism? But I imagine economics is not one of her strong points.

Of the outstanding book Infidel, she seems to be complaining cynically that it “came at the right time and sold hugely”. Isn’t this the dream of any book publisher? To know exactly what most irks McPhee would be hard to determine. Hirsi Ali criticises multiculturalism, Western feminists, Germaine Greer and Tariz Ramadan. But to top her sins off, Ayaan Hirsi Ali “accepted a job with the ultra-conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, which had provided much of the rationale for military intervention in Iraq and for rebuilding the image of Israel in the world through a conservative alliance with America”. Oh, dear.

But McPhee is generous in her sympathy for Hirsi Ali’s plight. She finishes her irritation in a final sentence: “I can’t help but fear for her.”

Ruddspeak is alive and well

July 14, 2010

Stephen Smith in “conversation” with Fran Kelly on the ABC

Everyone has remarked on the new spin-word of the Gillard government, “conversation”. The Prime Minister wants a conversation with the Australian people. Now, all the Ministers seem to be wanting conversations with everyone. Transcripts are not available for ABC Breakfast, so here is a rough summary transcript of what I heard in a most appalling interview with Foreign Minster Stephen Smith, in his best RuddSpeak mode, by Fran Kelly on ABC Breakfast yesterday.

Fran Kelly observes that an off-shore processing centre is facing stiff resistance in East Timor:

FK: The signs are not good. Isn’t Indonesia indicating it is not keen on a regional processing centre?

SS: That’s not true. We agreed with Indonesia that we would have a conversation … Our officials have been in East Timor …  They have had very good conversations

FK: How good? How encouraging, given that vote in Parliament …

SS: The East Timor government position has not changed. They are in conversation, in discussion with Australia. They are having a conversation with Australia. And in the second half of this week I will probably have a conversation with my East timor counterpart …

FK: Will you also have a conversation with Nauru because the PM of Nauru has indicated they want a conversation too. They are prepared to sign up to the Refugee Convention.

SS: Well, our focus is very squarely on East Timor.

FK: Why? Why not consider Nauru, when there is a detention centre already there?

SS: Well, our focus is on East Timor firstly …

FK: I understand that that is where your focus has been … but why in your view would East Timor be a better solution than Nauru … given that Nauru has already an Australian built detention centre there …

SS: Well, we are focusing on East Timor

FK: Why though?

SS: Well, we believe it is the appropriate place to have a conversation. Nauru was used by the Howard government … but we are in conversation with East Timor …

FK: But why would East Timor be a better solution than Nauru, that’s all I’m wondering?

SS:   [Finally, Smith gives a vague answer about regional agreements, UN approval, that fact that Nauru is not a signatory although he welcomes the fact that they want to, etc.] …. This is an extensive conversation that is not going to be solved in one day, one week or one meeting with officials.

If there is one thing that characterised Kevin Rudd — and that frustrated journalists almost more than anything — was the use of clichés combined with assiduously not answering questions.

If Immigration Minister Chris Evans, as reported, has admitted that the immigration debate was “killing the government” then interviews like this by our Foreign Minister is going to do little to reassure the Australian public with his Ruddspeak and evasion. Tony Abbott makes the obvious point that if Gillard were “fair dinkum about offshore processing, she wouldn’t be talking to the East Timorese who don’t want a centre, she’d be talking to the Nauruans who do want a centre.”

Children denied work

July 11, 2010

Julia’s Fair Work not fair

It looks like Julia’s IR legislation is still going to raise even more eyebrows going into the election. Fair Work Australia vice-president Graeme Watson has rejected the right of some Victorian school students to work one and a half hour shifts at a local Kerang co-operative.

Unless, of course, Julia clears yet more deck space against silly, damaging obstacles that discourage young people from working. Simon Crean says he is going to look at the problem in “the days ahead”.

A LEGAL challenge by two Victorian country town teenagers to keep their jobs has been rejected by the industrial umpire.

The decision was bitterly received in Terang, about 210km southwest of Melbourne.

The co-operative is the town’s largest employer, and the townspeople had rallied behind the two affected students, who have been unable to find weekday jobs elsewhere.

A petition of 1650 signatures demanded changes to the award.

“Everyone was just so cut when it happened,” a disappointed Leticia said yesterday. “I think it is pretty stupid.

“I can’t really get my head around the fact they won’t let us work.


That’s one unresolved problem on the IR front.  Another has been reported this morning on the escalating costs of coastal shipping due to Labors’ work place policy.

JULIA Gillard faces demands to wind back the Fair Work Act for businesses reeling from an explosion in shipping costs.

Rudd for Foreign Minister ??

July 10, 2010

Please …. No !!

Apparently, our ex-Prime Minster, Kevin Rudd has been telling journalists he’s determined to be Minister for Foreign Affairs after the election. In a previous post I raised his strange ambition to have an important role in a future Labor government. Wasn’t he dumped because he was bad and damaging for Labor, and he was loathed? Still, he is Kevin from Queensland, and wants to help.

Andrew Bolt this morning was right on the money about this problem and thinks the whole idea bad. He goes directly to Rudd’s personality and focuses on what I believe became crystal clear in his teary departure speech at his last press conference in Parliament House.

Another sign that he should not be. He is curiously unable to read the rules of human interaction, and, by extension, of political interaction. I doubt a single Cabinet minister would welcome back to their inner sanctum a man with such an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and such a disordered sense of his place in not just Labor but the universe.

Solar power furphy

July 7, 2010

Lessons for Greens in Vietnam

In a visit last week to the bustling, vibrant go-ahead Saigon I came across an interesting news item in Viet Nam News, the national English language daily. Le Tuan Phong, deputy head of the ministry’s Department of Energy estimates that the average price for producing a kWh of solar electricity was about six or seven times higher than hydro-power or thermo-power.

In particular, it requires a huge, almost unaffordable initial investment. According to Mai Thanh Hai, head of the sales department of Red Sun Energy Company, the average cost for installing solar energy equipment for a household is between five to nine times the annual GDP per capita. And then, the power produced was only enough for basic necessities for six hours a day.

I wonder if the the communist government of Vietnam understands more about the economics of solar power than does the Green Gold Rush project announced by ACTU President, Sharan Burrow and Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry, mentioned in an earlier post.