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Thursday, 17 March


Australian Federal Election 2016: oh dear, Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan is at it again North Coast Voices

In February this year Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan fronted the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and delivered a large pork pie regarding thresholds for foreign investment in Australian agricultural land and businesses.

He was at it again this month with a public assurance concerning foreign workers made to ABC News on 9 March which also picked up the daily double by repeating that misinformation about investment thresholds:

A National Party MP is hoping local jobs will not be lost as a result of a Chinese buy-out of north coast NSW macadamia farms.
Four properties covering 380 hectares at Dunoon near Lismore, and formerly run by US-based Hancock Farms, have been bought by a Chinese group known as "Discovery".
The member for Page Kevin Hogan said he was aware of rumours of a sale.
Mr Hogan said a Free Trade Agreement with China did not mean the door was now open to foreign w...


Australian Federal Election 2016: these tired old tricks no longer work, Tones North Coast Voices

This was the Member for Warringah, Tony Abbott, in the Australian Financial Times on 9 March 2016:

On Friday, Tony Abbott said one of Labor's "five new taxes" included a housing tax (negative gearing), a wealth tax (capital gains), a seniors tax (superannuation), a workers tax (smokers), and the carbon tax.
"Five new taxes is what Bill Shorten has in store should Labor win the next election”…..

There it is, another three-word slogan – “five new taxes”.

So where are these five new taxes?

Negative gearing is a tax concession not a tax charge and Labor does not intend to eliminate this concession for all existing negatively geared investments or future new housing stock – the concession will be removed only on any future investment purchases of old housing stock after 30 June 2017....

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Wednesday, 16 March


How will Senate voting reform work out? Catallaxy Files

Jebediah Cole has used data from the last 3 federal elections to simulate the possible results from 20,000 elections using monte carlo simulation. In particular he is interested in Senate outcomes under the proposed new voting rules.

It is not a pretty sight:

The most important findings are:

  • The average election outcome, as well as the most common outcome, was a Senate controlled by Labor and The Greens.
  • It is practically impossible for the Liberal/National Coalition to gain control of the Senate using the changed rules, whether there is a double-dissolution election or not.
  • The Coalition would in fact gain a majority in the Senate at only one out of 400 double-dissolution elections, given current voting patterns.
  • The Greens stand to gain the most as they will become a permanent cross-bench, and will almost always be the only party that the Coalition or Labor can negotiate with to pass legislation (other than each other).

One of the arguments that I’ve seen is that the new voting mechanism, under current voting patterns, will often result in the Coalition having a blocking majority (i.e. 38 Senators) but the monte carlo analysis suggests they will often fall short of even that goal.

(HT: Tim Andrews)


MPI: Turnbull’s failure to present a tax plan Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

Senator LAMBIE: There is a myth—that the Liberals are good managers of public funds — which I would like to question by stating the facts.

The Howard Liberal government made a grand total of $59.8 billion from public asset sales: $4.4 billion from airports, $48.6 billion from Telstra and $6.8 billion from Commonwealth Bank.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I draw you to the standing order which requires that senators shall not read their speeches.

Senator Cameron: On the point of order: Senator Macdonald has been around here long enough to know that that is an absolute nonsense proposal he has put forward. Senator Lambie has been on her feet for I think 15 seconds, and I just think it is absolutely outrageous to put that proposal up.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Williams ): I am going to rule it as okay for Senator Lambie
to continue. I have been here for some time now and I have seen many, many senators refer to notes in front
of them. Continue, Senator Lambie.

Senator LAMBIE: The Liberals under Mr Howard and Mr Abbott sold $59.8 billion of public assets and paid back $57 billion of Labor debt, leaving us with $108 billion of outstanding bonds and unfunded public service super.

How much revenue would have been raised to today had we not sold those public assets? In the last six months, the Turnbull Liberal government has failed to present a tax plan to the Australian people, and that failure has added to the chaos and confusion that the Abbott Liberal government first created for this parliament.

The Liberals like to spread the propaganda that it is the other crossbenchers and I who have made this Senate chaotic and unworkable.

In the Senate I have voted for and passed almost 75 per cent of the Liberals’ legislation. That is worth $32 billion. With my...


New Acland coal mine: The land that rehabilitation forgot Independent Australia

New Acland coal mine: The land that rehabilitation forgotCoal miner New Hope is in court again, attempting to explain why the State Government should let them destroy another huge chunk of Queensland. read now...


The new protectionists: the Turnbull government Catallaxy Files

Forget all the huff and puff from the Prime Minister about supporting open markets, his actions speak louder than words.

And similarly all that guff from the Treasurer about promoting competition and getting the states to come on board (outsourcing in health and education – sure, you can see that happening in Victoria, Queensland, SA .. NSW for that matter), it’s just chatter to make up some sort of “economic narrative” about the transition from the old economy – what? – to the new economy.  Oh please.

But when the rubber really hits the road, this government is keener on protection than even their Labor mates.  Of course, the Nats are forcing some of these decisions  but it’s not hard to think that many Liberal parliamentarians are happy to go along with.

Here’s the thing: small businesses are no better than big businesses.  They are less innovative than big businesses – Turnbull and Morrison just tell porkies on that.  And this silly special tax provision for innovative start-ups is ridiculous; it will be gamed, lead to some lost revenue and have no effect.  Deal with the base, mates, not silly bibs and bobs like this.

Just look where we are:

  • The government caved in on doing something about the re-regulation of the sugar industry (gosh, that was $500 million well spent for the deregulation);
  • The government can’t get enough of the Anti-Dumping Commission – think tinned tomatoes and steel.  (I’m not sure whether they still intend to make this arrangement even more protective by reversing the onus of proof.);
  • Changes to Section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act is just a sop to small business and deluded farmers – com...


Labour goes for the racist vote - again No Right Turn

Once upon a time, anti-immigrant politics was the domain of the racist "NZ First" party. Now Labour wants a piece of the action:

If in power, a Labour Government would place a cap on immigration immediately.

"At times when our economy is creaking, we need to be able to turn down the tap a bit," Mr Little said.

Once the economy had recovered, the cap would be removed.

But of course Little is "reject[ing] any accusations of race-based policy". Bullshit. This is about pandering to racists and those who fear anything "foreign", the same demographic NZ First is chasing. Its disgusting and I expected better of them.

Fortunately, we have a principled, non-racist left-wing party to vote for. And people should do that, rather than vote for racist Labour.


Climate Change: Progress on the ETS? No Right Turn

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett has announced that the government will scrap the ETS's two-for-one discount:

A special 50 percent reduction on climate change obligations for New Zealand citizens and companies will be scrapped.

This has been hinted at for some time but Climate Change Minster Paula Bennett confirmed it in an address to the energy sector in Wellington this morning.


But Mrs Bennett told the audience this concession would go.

"This isn't really a case of if we remove one-for two, but more when and how," she told her audience.

"It was always a temporary measure.

"It is abundantly clear that if the ETS is going to work, carbon must cost more than it does right now."

Good. The discount is effectively a 50% subsidy on pollution which keeps the cost artificially low. Scrapping it might incentivise companies to start reducing emissions and investing in efficiency rather than just polluting more.

But while Bennett is scrapping pollution subsidies, how about she also scraps the elephants in the room: free allocations and the hundred percent subsidy for agricultural emitters? We won't really be able to make any progress on reducing emissions until both of these are removed permanently.


Cheaper to import bricks from Spain Catallaxy Files

For anyone who thinks our industrial relations problems are sorted, read below.  It is cheaper to import bricks – a heavy, low-valued added product – from Spain than to ship them from Perth to the east coast.  Says it all really.

The government had a go at sorting out the exorbitant costs of coastal shipping and break down cabotage (the ultimate protection racket), but was blocked in the Senate.  But because they are complete dopes, the bill was never reintroduced.  I guess it’s a case of MUA.

It’s also why there are some other manufacturing plants floundering where the feeder stock has to be shipped around the coast – think Bell Bay aluminium smelter in Tasmania that must be teetering.

(The government really has so much blame to shoulder some of the blame for the complete lack of policy progress on some many issues: it could have done really well by lining up twice rejected bills to get stuff done but half the time, it didn’t even bother to put the bill to the senate even once – eg. cracking down on double dipping in paid parental leave, changes to family tax benefits, abolishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal [ok, they only thought about, that but were too wimpy to give it a try).

If it is re-elected, the government should talk about a DD from the getko and line up bills deliberately.  It will be the only way to get things done, particularly on IR, because the Greens are even worse than Labor.

Building materials giant Brickworks has warned jobs at its Perth manufacturing base are under threat as the company considers boosting imports from Spain in the face of the spiralling cost of shipping bricks around the country.

Brickworks chief executive Lindsay Partridge branded coastal shipping a “protected industry” ahead of the group’s annual results nex...


It could be worse, it could be a lot worse Catallaxy Files

Trump took a big step towards the nomination today in winning Florida and other states. This is by Victor Davis Hanson, Time to Calm Down about Trump. It’s more than that. It is time that the Republican Party took him in and gave him their kindness and attention. The sub-head makes the point:

Trump is crude and politically clueless, but no more so than the Clintons, Sanders — or Obama

I will merely add that working for the Chamber of Commerce I met many like him. They knew everything, and when you have a billion dollars and a boat that’s bigger than my house, it’s not hard to think that way. But I also always knew how wary they were of me. My job was to make their vague capitalist notions fit into a wider economic and social narrative. Few of those at the top of a business conglomerate would have been able to carry on a conversation at Treasury or with the Fair Work Commission. That is what I did. And we were the most free market, anti-Keynesian operation in the whole of employer politics.

Trump is at the top of the league as a business strategist, and has a number of ideas that are sound and others which are not. But his core message works for me. He would have been the perfect Chairman of my Economics Committee. He won’t be a perfect president, but he will be better than any of the others who have sought the nomination on either side. Here is some sound advice from VDH:

I agree that it is disturbing that Trump does not grasp the nature of the nuclear triad, but so far he has not, as has Vice President Biden, claimed that a President FDR went on television in 1929 or, as has President Obama, that the Falklands are better known as the Maldives. His Trump vodka and steaks and eponymous schlock are a window into his narcissistic soul and his lack of concern with integrity; but I’ll say...


Australian journalism blind on the negative gear: Click go the fears Independent Australia

Australian journalism blind on the negative gear: Click go the fearsWhy do Australia's journalists continue to be suckers for the self-serving propaganda of well-funded rent-seekers? read now...


Member's Day No Right Turn

Today is a Member's Day, and just like the last one, the top of the Order paper is clogged with second readings and committee stages. There's two private and local bills up first, and they could conceivably take up all the time. If the House works quickly, it may get back to the Second Reading of Meka Whaitiri's Environmental Protection Authority (Protection of Environment) Amendment Bill, but I don't see them going much further. Which is a problem for National, because they'd really like to pass Alfred Ngaro's Local Government (Auckland Council) Amendment Bill (No 3) (which bans people from sitting on multiple local boards) in time for the local body elections. But with a clogged Order paper and at least three member's days required to do it, they're going to be pushed for time.


Unaccountable surveillance at WINZ No Right Turn

Speaking of surveillance: last month we learned that WINZ was monitoring beneficiaries' social media in an effort to detect fraud. Its intrusive, invasive snooping, akin to stalking someone in public and peeking through their windows. So what are the rules around this, and how often does it happen? Someone used FYI, the public OIA request system, to ask. The response? Of course not:

The Ministry does not have a formal policy to monitor social media. Your request is refused under section 18(e) of the Official Information Act as this information does not exist.


The Ministry does not record and report instances where an individual's activity on their social media accounts, blogs or online presence is monitored or checked. As such this part of your request as well as the cost of social media monitoring is refused under section 18(e) of the Official information Act as this information does not exist.

We've seen this attitude before: the police routinely demand highly intrusive information, including social media and text messages, emails, and long-term tracking information - using production orders. And yet they don't bother even to count how often they do it.

Government surveillance needs to be lawful, proportionate and justifiable. And if any government body uses it, they should be required to have a formal policy on its use so that legality and proportionality can be assessed, and track how often it is used, so that we can see if it is over-used. Ref...


Unlawful surveillance in Christchurch No Right Turn

At the moment, the government is conspiring to extend the GCSB's powers to allow domestic mass-surveillance of all our internet and phone communications. But its not just the spies wanting to snoop on everything. Down in Christchurch, they're spying on people for dog control:

A Christchurch couple were shocked to discover the city council was spying on their dogs using a listening device covertly placed in their garden.

The move has astounded Jenny and Tim Bennett and a human rights lawyer, who said the couple's right to privacy has been breached.

The Christchurch City Council admitted on Tuesday it used the devices and normally sought permission before installing them.

That did not happen in the Bennetts' case.

In legal terms, this is an "interception device" as it is capable of recording private communications, and therefore a "surveillance device". Installing such a device without consent is clearly unlawful. Use of a surveillance device that involves trespass to land requires a surveillance device warrant. Such a warrant can only be issued for an interception device for serious crimes: serious drug or arms offences or crimes carrying a penalty of more than seven years imprisonment. There is no capaci...


On which leg does the Liberal Party stand? The Political Sword

The Liberal Party often describes itself as ‘a broad church’, particularly when its parliamentarians are expressing different views. It is to be expected that political parties will contain within them people with different views on some issues but it seems the Liberal Party has a basic philosophical dilemma.

John Howard famously described himself as ‘an economic liberal and a social conservative’ and referred to the philosophic traditions of John Stuart Mill (considered the ‘father’ of liberalism) and Edmund Burke (the ’father’ of conservatism) for those positions:
Mill and Burke are interwoven into the history and the practice and the experience of our political party.
The words of Mill emphasise the central role of the individual:
The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to attain it.
In that regard, speaking at the launch of The Conservative at Parliament House on 8 September 2005, Howard said:
… we are a party that is committed to the role of the individual. … If you look for evidence of the classic liberal tradition within our embrace and within our activity, we think of our commitment to labour market reform. … labour market reform is about transferring power from institutions to individuals.
When working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs during the Howard years, it became quite apparent that we were not supposed to talk about ‘Aboriginal communities’. The whole government approach to both white and non-white people was about individuals and families. But Aboriginal and Torres Str...


Jacqui Lambie Network E-Newsletter – March 2016 Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

Click below to see my recent e-newsletter on Senate candidates in Tasmania for the Jacqui Lambie Network!

JLN Tasmania

The post Jacqui Lambie Network E-Newsletter – March 2016 appeared first on Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST.


Not a vehicle for ‘estate planning’, according to Wayne Morrison Catallaxy Files

SowhothebloodyhellareyouThe Treasurer is clearly softening us up for a raid on superannuation aka higher taxes. What’s all this drivel about estate planning?

Obviously, he thinks that the government’s voters are malign to be planning their estates or seeking to leave something to their children.   The nerve.

Mind you, when it comes to negative gearing, it is just the ordinary punter wanting to get ahead (with a tax concession) but that’s somehow different and definitely not estate planning, according to ScoMo.

Hey, what about home owners who leave them to their children?  That’s a form of estate planning, Mr Morrison.  And let us not forget that the family home is the most tax sheltered vehicle around, much more so than superannuation.  (Shut up, Judith, I hear you say – you might give Wayne Morrison ideas.)

And here’s another figure – there are estimated to be some 2000 superannuation accounts with $10 million or over (note that there can be up to 4 trustees of these accounts.) But there are over 10,000  owner occupied houses valued at $10 million or over. It is simply not possible for superannuation accounts to grow to this amount under present rules;the number of very high value houses will continue to grow.

When it comes to estate planning, the house can pass tax free to the beneficiaries while there is a 15 per cent tax on the concessional component of superannuation bequeathed to non-dependents.  So much for superannuation being the preferred method of estate planning.

We are now being told that income taxes will not be reduced. And forget company taxes too.

The only conclusion i...


RESEARCH: Sea level rise from global warming likely to cause massive costs Independent Australia

RESEARCH: Sea level rise from global warming likely to cause massive costsA simple relationship between sea level rise and the massive potential costs of future coastal flooding has been established by scientists in Germany, writes Tim Radford for Climate News Network. read now...


Whither Oz carbon emissions: dissension in the ranks Catallaxy Files

Although South Korea has abandoned its climate change commitments only three months after the Paris agreement, Australia according to Minister Greg Hunt is now at peak emissions   For once the rent-seeking fairies at the Climate Council are surely right in claiming smoke and mirrors are the cause of this. It is doubtful that Hunt will simply rest on existing policy positions of renewable energy requirements at 24 per cent of electricity and a bevy of other subsidies, disastrous though these are for future prosperity.

The government’s claim is also at odds with the bleating of Malcolm Turnbull’s Chief Green Chief Scientist.  Alan Finkel, (previous work: administration, electrical engineer and neuroscience) on Q&A  said, “For all the effort we are putting into trying to avoid increases of ­emission, we are losing. What we are doing with solar, wind, changing practices, behavioural practices and things like that, we’re not winning the battle.”

Finkel inherited the CSIRO policy of pruning its climate drones, which he is clearly not pleased with.


Eerie ... or how great bigoted minds think alike ... come on down, Miranda the Devine and Dame Slap ... loon pond

(Above: and more most excellent papery japery here).

Now that the heat has finally broken in Sydney - just a parochial bit of the wider story 'True shocker': February spike in global temperatures stuns scientists (with forced video) - and the pond has finally recovered from what felt like a deep south - deep north if you will - Tennessee Williams' fever, it's taken a momentous, earth-shattering event to distract the pond from its favourite subject matter.

After all, there in the Graudian is a lengthy piece, Record-breaking temperatures 'have robbed the Arctic of its winter' wherein there's a tale about Canadians having to import snow to get a dogsledding race started ...

Please, no more jokes about coals to Newcastle.

And then there was Lateline,...


An open letter from Allan Hird to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee Catallaxy Files

Dear Senators

At Estimates on 3 March 2016, the CEO of ASADA asserted he saved the the taxpayers $1m and the process of prosecuting 34 young Australians 12 months by not exercising ASADA’s right to appeal within Australia against the AFL tribunal’s decision that the 34 were innocent.

The CEO attempted to make a virtue of the fact that ASADA funded WADA to appeal that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Now of course the CEO is entitled to hold that view but I don’t buy it. Taxpayers funds and time delays have never been a consideration of ASADA since it began its investigation in February 2013. The matter continues, but now in a Swiss court because of the CEO’s decision.

The CAS doesn’t buy it either as the link and excerpt below demonstrate. CAS has changed its code to prevent this ever happening again. From now, before CAS will hear an appeal, all appeal rights within the country (in the 34’s case, Australia) have to be exhausted.

This is yet another example of how ASADA has trammelled the rights of the 34 young Australians and a further reason why Senators should do the decent thing and not follow the party line but support Senator Madigan’s motion for an inquiry into ASADA.

Yours faithfully

Allan Hird

Initiation of the Arbitration by the CAS

Unless it appears from the outset that there is clearly no arbitration agreement referring to CAS, or that the agreement is clearly not related to the dispute at stake, or that the internal legal remedies available to the Appellant have clearly not been exhausted, CAS shall take all appropriate actions to set the arbitration in motion. The CAS Court Office shall communicate the statement of appeal to the Respondent, and the President of the Division shall proceed with the formation of the Panel in accordance with Articles R53


While we're waiting for the Turnbull Government to stop chasing its tail....... North Coast Voices

A look round at the political landscape in the lead up to this year's federal election.


Which Australian politician said this?

The Prime Minister cannot even summon up the courage to try to fix this mess. His threat of a double dissolution and an early election proves to all of us what this budget is really about. It is not about protecting the jobs of Australians, least of all the one million Australians it says will soon be out of work; it is about the job security of one man and one man only. A Prime Minister frightened of the consequences of his mismanagement now wants to cut and run before he is found out. [House of Representatives Hansard, 14 May 2009]

Why, it was Prime Minist...


Why Abbott's sex life is my business North Coast Voices

Cross-post with North Coast Voices' thanks and permission from No Place for Sheep:

6 March 2016

Mr & Mrs Abbott



Practical Innovation: CSIRO's Idea Trebuchet political geometry

Be counter-cyclical. Imagine a big red bouncy ball

 Some say it's awfully warm nowadays. My colleagues here and at our partner agencies have produced an awful lot of maps, and they just keep getting redder. Enough of that shit. 

I'm Doctor Larry Marshal of the CSIRO and I'd like to introduce  a practical innovation developed at my instigation by the CSIRO to jettison inconvenient lines of research. As it turns out, future applications are well-nigh limitless

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Tuesday, 15 March


Thoughts on Innovation Policy Catallaxy Files

Last Thursday I gave a talk to the Victorian branch of the Liberal Democratic Party on innovation policy. Several people have contacted me asking for my notes and/or references so that they can follow up on some of the things I said. So rather than reply individually I thought I’d provide a general reading list.

First, overall general reading:
1. Terence Kealey, 1996, The Economic Laws of Scientific Research – simply magnificent.
2. Daniel Greenberg, 2003, Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion – very highly recommended. How the R&D lobby works in the US.

Then, my own humble contributions:
1. Sinclair Davidson, 2006a, Back to Basics: Why government funding of science is a waste of our money.
2. Sinclair Davidson, 2006b, The myths of public science.
3. Sinclair Davidson and Robert Brooks, 2010, How Much R&D Should Australia Undertake?, Economic Papers: A journal of applied economics and policy, 23(2):165 – 174.
4. Sinclair Davidson and Heath Spong, 2010, Positive Externalities and R&D: Two Conflicting Traditions in Economic Theory, Review of Political Economy, 22(3): 355-372.
5. Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts, 2015, Social Costs and the Institution...

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Monday, 14 March


Who will the country be supporting in 2016 - Bill Shorten or Tony Abbott? North Coast Voices

This is Leader of the Opposition and Labor MP for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten.....

And this is the Janus-faced Australian Prime Minister and MP for Wentworth, Malcolm Anthony Abbott Turnbull.......


Wednesday, 09 March


Debating Disaster Capitalism at the London School of Economics Antony Loewenstein

During my recent visit to London, where I debated the future of the UN at the London School of Economics (LSE), I also discussed my book Disaster Capitalism at the LSE with three articulate and critical women: Dr Brenna Bhandar, Dr Marsha Henry and Dr Devika Hovell. I was challenged on my choice of interviewees in the book, why more female voices weren’t heard and whether disaster capitalism is really any different to exploitative capitalism:

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