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Saturday, 06 February


Quote of the Week North Coast Voices

Abbott  was born in England in the 1950s and he is still a creature of it. He represents a narrow strand in Australian culture which is in many ways more British than Australian, and that is part of the reason why he was unsuccessful.
[Author Aaron Patrick in The NewDaily, 29 January 2016]

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Friday, 05 February


Justice for the Bombers Catallaxy Files

You don’t have to be an Essendon supporter to recognise an injustice. So please give some thought to signing this petition.

We believe these players were denied:

  • The presumption of innocence 
  • The right to an independent Hearing
  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to privacy and confidentiality 
  • The right not to be tried twice for the same offence
  • The right to be dealt with promptly and not subject to unnecessary delays
  • The right for an appeal to be heard in an Australian Court

We believe:

  1. None of the sporting or governing bodies involved in the investigation, interim reports, and prosecution of these players have given the appearance of objectivity in the selection of evidence.
  2. None of the sporting or governing bodies involved in the investigation, interim reports, and prosecution of players, perhaps with the exception of the AFL Tribunal, have given any regard to whether evidence could be regarded as expert or scientific. In fact, some supporting evidence needed to be discounted on the grounds of relevance.
  3. The sporting and governing bodies involved in the investigation, interim reports, and prosecution of the players ran their own agenda in order to achieve a preconceived outcome.  As a result, the outcome that was reached contains numerous factual errors and is based on suppositions which in many cases are unsupported.    
  4. As a consequence of 1, 2, and 3, we believe the prosecution of the case was built...


Economic benefit of refugees continues to be ignored Independent Australia

Economic benefit of refugees continues to be ignoredWith several recent reports showing the economic advantage of refugees, PM Turnbull should implement his Ideas Boom by ending offshore processing and boost the economy. Adam Bishop reports. read now...


Be still, beating heart ... well, keep beating, but contain the excitement at the news ... loon pond

The rest of that Graudian story here.

The rest of this CNBC story, with mooving pictyahs here ...

The rest of this Fairfaxian story here ...

Pity about the jobs. Still, in this agile world, that's the way it goes, whether you're a climate scientist or a Murd...


Cities policy ends up the playthings of politicians Catallaxy Files

Cities policy as far as the Coalition is concerned came out of the blue.  It is uncertain where it is heading but likely, unless it can be turned against itself, to be the harbinger of new regulations and winner picking regimes.  Here is a piece of mine from today’s Herald Sun that addresses the policy.

One significant change Malcolm Turnbull has introduced is the creation of a mini-department for Cities.  This is in spite of the Commonwealth having few city specific taxation and regulatory responsibilities.

The original ministerial choice, Jamie Briggs, has yet to be replaced after being sacked for unwanted familiarity with a female public servant in a Hong Kong bar.

The Gillard government had previously developed a Cities policy and issued a 90 page glossy publication, “Our Cities, Our Future”.  This had catch-all goals of “productivity, sustainability and liveability”.

The ALP policy featured a range of “positive” programs to promote its objectives including creating jobs to green the cities, incentives for green buildings and promoting healthy lifestyles.  The program’s credibility was undermined by the ludicrous claim that it was building upon the ALP’s non-existent deregulatory program!

Interventionary features also appear to be attractive to Prime Minister Turnbull.  He has announced a $1.1 billion innovation support package, talked about “integrated planning” and has advocated a “greening” of cities, capping this off by placing the Cities’ mini-department within the generally anti-development Environment Department.

In bundling retailing, entertainment, and business services, cities are key growth generators.  Yet, an examination of success stories reveals none, other than Houston with its space industry-oriented development where government guidance was significant.

The real driver of successful cities has been private enterprise with combatting crime and keeping down costs the essential...


Climate change: Pure fiction No Right Turn

The Ministry for the Environment released three reports on the Emissions Trading Scheme today, including an evalation of its performance against short, medium and long-term outcomes. So how is it doing? Unsurprisingly, in the executive summary, MfE declares that everything is going great:

The evaluation found that the NZ ETS has been successful in assisting the Government to comply with international commitments and to meet national targets. The NZ ETS has resulted in an overachievement of New Zealand’s first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol (CP1).

The reality in the body of the report is a little different. The key question for me is "has it reduced emissions". And the answer to that is "not really":
Research for this evaluation, and evidence from the interviews, found no sector other than forestry made emissions reductions over Kyoto Protocol Commitment Period One (2008–12)(CP1) that were directly caused by NZ ETS obligations. The 6NC identified that the waste sector was the only sector to have reduced emissions over CP1 other than forestry, but those reduced emissions were not due to the NZ ETS [they were due to Labour's direct regulation in 2004 - I/S].

Or, to put it another way, the ETS has not resulted in any reduction in pollution from the energy, industrial, or transport sectors. And that's not really surprising, given that the government has subsidised those sectors to continue polluting, while letting them use fraudulent Ukranian "credits" to meet their paltry obligations. As for forestry, the estimated impact of the reduction is 0.2% of our annual emissions, which is within the margin of error of business-as-usual.

So how does...


Questions Without Notice: Medicare cuts Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

My question without notice is to Senator Nash, the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer the National Party assistant health minister to the government’s proposed $650 million cuts to Medicare bulk-billing rates.

I note that respected Tasmanian health professionals like scientist Richard Hanlon have warned that the effect on patients will be quite significant because it will discourage patients from going to their doctors, patients may pay up to a $30 co-payment and it has the potential to stop patients from testing for chronic diseases like diabetes and undertaking pap smears for women’s cancers. It will remove a 10-year focus on primary health care so that hospitals in the future will become inundated, and cancers and diabetes will not be seen until it is too late.

Can the assistant minister produce studies or modelling which prove Tasmanian medical scientist Richard Hanlon is wrong?

Senator Nash: I am not aware of the comments that the senator referred to at the end of her question, so I cannot respond directly to those. I am assuming that the senator is referring to changes to the bulk-billing incentive payment for pathology and diagnostic imagining. I think it is very important for the Senate to note that since 2009 half a billion dollars, around $500 million, has been spent on this particular program; indeed, $99 million in the last year. The purpose of the payment was to increase bulk-billing rates—that was the purpose of the payment for those who were not aware. What we have seen, as I said, is $99 million just in the last year and roughly the same amount each and every year since 2009, and the bulk-billing rate has gone from 86.3 per cent to...


Freeing Julian Assange: The last chapter Independent Australia

Freeing Julian Assange: The last chapterWill Turnbull's continuing pretence of moral superiority over his precedessor, Abbott, see him support the UNWGAD's judgement on Julian Assange? Doubtful, given Foreign Minister Julie Bishop lied about having no recent contact with Assange. read now...


Europe is Finnished Catallaxy Files

This is from Finland advising women on what to do if they are attacked in the street, as if it would be in broad daylight in the middle of the road. First at Tim Blair there was this:

And then Andrew Bolt added this from Sam I Am:

Both are equally idiotic although the second at least is not intended to be a genuine response to a serious problem. To bring in large numbers of people who do not speak the language, who have few marketable skills and are products of a different social culture seems to have been asking for trouble. What I do not get is why these governments are not being thrown from office and Tony Abbott brought in to run the country. A debilitating sentimentality seems to have replaced common sense across the Western world.


Climate change: "Within the rules" No Right Turn

One of the core entries in New Zealand's political lexicon is "within the rules". Its politician-speak for "morally indefensible".

The Ministry for the Environment is now using that phrase to describe the way we paid our Kyoto obligations with outright fraudulent Ukranian "emissions reductions".

Following the release of the government's Kyoto CP1 "true-up" report (which revealed the use of these fraudulent credits), I submitted an OIA request for the Ministry for the Environment's advice on the composition of our Kyoto payment. The response claims that "New Zealand has met its Kyoto Protocol commitments within the rules, and in good faith". But the advice itself makes it clear that a deliberate decision was made to use the dodgy units - effectively laundering them - so as to maximise the number of units that could be carried over, and minimise the effort required to reduce emissions in future:

We recommend that you retain only units that can be carried over. If we find that New Zealand cannot carry any Kyoto Protocol units over into CP2, a domestic substitute would be needed to incorporate them in accounting for New Zealand's 2013-20 target.

This approach will facilitate the use of the Kyoto Protocol framework of rules in accounting for New Zealand's 2013-20 target, by ensuring that New Zealand's use of surplus units to comply with the target will be in line with Protocol rules....


Open Government: More foot dragging No Right Turn

The story of New Zealand's participation in the Open Government partnership continues to devolve into a farce. First, we dragged our feet on joining; then, after a deliberately farcical mockery of "consultation", we submitted an utterly unambitious list of "commitments" that consisted of things we were doing anyway. And now it turns out that we can't even meet our deadlines.

The OGP has a clear timetable for every country to develop its action plans and submit its self-assessment reports. According to this timetable, New Zealand's mid-term self-assessment report was due on September 30, 2015. But according to an email I received today from the OGP (under their disclosure policy),

I understand that an extension was negotiated to allow them to re-do their consultation, but they finished that process in October. So why have they failed to submit the final report for another three months? Again, its a sign that there's simply no commitment to or enga...


“We know what to do but we don’t know how to get re-elected after we do it” Catallaxy Files

I used to say often during the great Peter Costello years that everyone would see what was happening but never understand why it worked. Public spending would come down – even in the midst of the Asian Financial Crisis – and the economy would simply go from success to success. Falling unemployment and falling taxes followed year on year. Not just a zero deficit but ZERO public debt. And on we would roll. Why it would work you cannot find in a single modern economics text (well, actually there is one). What you saw before your eyes was specifically ruled out by the economic theory everyone, including everyone at Treasury, is taught. Peter Costello did what he did in the face of Treasury opposition and set a standard for performance that no one is ever again likely to match.

So we have this from the paper today: on the Government trying to think through what to do on the economy.

As Coalition MPs speak out against a GST increase, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison are examining other ways to pay for an ambitious agenda centred on tax cuts designed to encourage workers and lift economic growth. . . .

“The only realistic option for very significant income tax cuts is by changing the tax mix, and that is why a number of people have advocated increasing the GST for the purpose,” Mr Turnbull told parliament.

The strategy is to increase the goods and services tax to pay for a fall in personal tax. The Peter Costello option, of cuts to spending, is off the table, not even being considered. How this change in the tax mix would create growth seems incomprehensible to me, since no matter how you slice it, no cuts to public spending are involved so no additional space for the private sector is opened up. But there was also this I found quite interesting.



PM's cultivated illusion of moral superiority over Abbott unravels over refugee children Independent Australia

PM's cultivated illusion of moral superiority over Abbott unravels over refugee childrenMalcolm Turnbull's carefully cultivated illusion of moral superiority to Tony Abbott continues to unravel with his failure to protect refugee babies and children, writes David Tyler. read now...


In which, in a TGIF, the pond is grateful for nodes, kitchen cabinets and kitchen gadgets, cute puppies and climate science handed back to Moorice where it belongs ... loon pond

Things are always slow on a reptile Friday.

Oh sure, there's always the possibility of reading the Swiss bank account man explaining how he came to understand that locking children up in gulags was the best way forward ...

No, that's not weakness, because gulags are strength.

Let's not have idle chat chat about being generous towards a few children, not when we can have strength through support of the gulags.

Now back to checking the credit balance in the pond's Swiss bank account.

Naturally after that, the pond turned elsewhere in the news for sustenance and a serve of fibre, and found this story in the Graudian ...

Oh that's okay. If you thrash someone with a baseball bat in private, provided you do it in public too, then everything's hunky dory.



Labor called Turnbull Government's bluff - now ordinary voters should demand their right to know North Coast Voices

When Dyson Heydon decided to permanently conceal from public view one volume of the report produced by the Royal Commission into Union Governance and Corruption, he did a grave disservice to the democratic process.

Opposition and cross-bench parliamentarians are starting to demand access to the secret 'facts' a commissioner (trailing apprehended bias allegations behind him) relied on, before they consider new government legislation. 

Now in this 2016 federal election year it's time that Australian voters also fight for access to a copy of this volume with individual/company/place names redacted.

It may be a hard fight as I rather suspect that Heydon's hidden hyperbole won't stand up to close public scrutiny.

The Australian, 18 January 2016:...

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Thursday, 04 February


Jacques Barzun on race Catallaxy Files

From Race: A Study in Superstition by Jacques Barzun, 1937/1965

The principle of judging individual cases must apply whenever a group, thinking racially, feels attacked through a representation of one of their members in a work of art. The repeated attempts to have The Merchant of Venice banned and Huckleberry Finn removed from library shelves proceed from the same associative tendency which the interested group should on the contrary combat…The children in school must not be protected from reading about Mark Twain’s lovable creation but from thinking that Negroes are born slaves and fated illiterates.
The anxious wrangling which goes on about books and plays at times seems trivial but is in fact fundamental. If democratic culture yields on this point, no prospect lies ahead but that of increasing animosity among pressure groups. A dozen years ago a Broadway play was picketed by a union of domestic servants because the maid in the play was made fun of…

It is clear that in the absence of such limitations on race-thinking and group solidarity as I am suggesting, every self-conscious group will have to engage in raucous self-defense and self-praise or risk being slandered and abused by a more powerful group or cartel of groups. In social and cultural relations the law rarely intervenes effectively; the protection of rights and feelings only comes from decency and self-restraint…

How ridiculous and even offensive to be told that one must love one’s fellow man because the geneticist tells one to – via UNESCO. The point is not to love one’s fellow man but to be fair to him; is not to show that social groups, previously despised, are all good companions and budding geniuses who will shortly reinvent the electric light. The point is to render absurd (not to say obscene) the hostile or friendly attribution of qualities to men otherwise than as individuals…



Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Amendment Bill 2015 Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

I rise to contribute on the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Amendment Bill 2015. I note that this is non-controversial legislation which both sides of this parliament agree to. The government have stated in their brief:

The Bill is part of a reform agenda for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) to place AIATSIS on a sustainable footing for the future.

The reform agenda comprises three parts.

The first tranche secured short-term funding of $3.3 million in the 2014-15 Budget and $5 million in the 2015-16 Budget to assist AIATSIS in addressing immediate risks to the preservation of their national collection of Indigenous cultural materials.

The government brief continues:

On 28 July 2015, as part of the second tranche, Cabinet agreed to amendments to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989 (the Act) in order to: retain AIATSIS as a Commonwealth corporate entity; reform the appointment process for the AIATSIS Council; and refocus the functions of AIATSIS to ensure a better targeting of resources and direction of maximum efforts to the AIATSIS national collection.

The third tranche of the agenda will explore options to place AIATSIS on a sustainable footing for the future and will be considered as part of the 2016-17 Budget process.

It is to the principle of appointments of people to an Indigenous body—the AIATSIS Council, mentioned in the second tranche of the reform process—that I wish to direct my comments...

Wednesday, 03 February


MPI: Turnbull Government’s lack of courage Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

I rise to contribute to today’s matter of public importance, whose subject is the Turnbull government’s lack of courage on matters of importance to everyday Australians.

I have to agree that up to today the Turnbull government has displayed a lack of courage to many issues of importance to everyday Australians, but I make this point: it can change. I have just had a meeting with the PM and I have taken to him some very important issues, including the plight of SAS soldier Evan Donaldson and former Army officer Marcus Saltmarsh. I thank him for the time he gave to me today. Talking to him is always pleasant. He is a very good listener and talker, but it is actions that I judge him by.

With reference to the harm and damage that have been clearly done to Evan Donaldson and Marcus Saltmarsh, the PM has agreed to support genuine mediation processes for those gentlemen. I can only hope that that happens extremely quickly. That would be the best and easiest way of ensuring they are compensated for the incredible harm they have suffered for 7 years and 16 years, respectively.

I also spoke to the PM about the $650 million of Medicare cuts. He did not promise to lift them but he did promise to speak with Tasmanian medical scientist Richard Hanlon who warned about the $30 pap smears Australian women are faced with if the Liberals’ cuts to Medicare go ahead. I hope the PM shows common sense and courage and abandons the cruel Liberal cuts to women’s cancer checks and Medicare bulk-billing.

Other areas where this government can show some courage is to stop their freeze on federal assistance grants, grants the rural and regional local governments of Australia are heavily reliant on....

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