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Saturday, 19 March


A look at those the Liberal-Nationals Coalition labels "eco-terrorists" North Coast Voices

NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts,  media release, 7 March 2016:

NEW LAWS PROTECT WORKERS AND COMMUNITIES FROM ILLEGAL PROTESTS The NSW Government today announced legislation will be introduced to the NSW Parliament to increase enforcement powers with respect to illegal protests. The Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 delivers on the NSW Government’s commitment to ensure that the right to peaceful protest is balanced with the need to ensure public safety, the safety of workers, the protection of communities and lawful business activity. Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, said the reforms enable Police to take a more proactive approach to managing and prosecuting illegal activity. “The NSW Government makes clear its support for the right to legal protests conducted in accordance with the Summary Offences Act 1988,” Mr Roberts said. “However unlawful activities put the safety of protesters and workers at risk and are costly for b...


Just because it is beautiful......(7) North Coast Voices

Peter Solness illuminates and photographs Aboriginal rock carvings, Bundeena region NSW

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Friday, 18 March



Tom Tate: The 'Crackerjack' mayor Independent Australia

Tom Tate: The 'Crackerjack' mayorGold Cast Mayor Tom Tate has been accused of lying about a controversial development project in which he has a major conflict of interest. read now...


Mr Morrison’s golden rule Catallaxy Files

It’s not exactly good news as in things will only get better from here on in, but it is pleasing to see the Treasurer finally figuring out what has to be done to make things work. The headline says it all: Morrison to cut company taxes; income taxes to wait years. I wonder how hard he had to fight our good news Prime Minister to get this policy up.

Salary earners will have to wait some years for an income tax cut after Treasurer Scott Morrison confirmed on Thursday that company tax cuts will be his priority in the federal budget.

After indicating on Tuesday that the government had ditched plans for the income tax cuts it has been pledging for several months, Mr Morrison told Parliament the best way to fund income tax cuts was through economic growth. And the best way to drive economic growth was by reducing the 30 per cent company tax rate.

“We understand the burdens faced by people who are paying higher and higher rates of income tax. We understand that and we understand the best way to deal with that … [is to] grow the economy so you can grow revenues to support those changes,” he said.

“That’s the way you do it and that’s what this government is seeking to do. We’ll focus our changes on things that will drive investment, as we’ve considered many tax measures over the course of the past six months.”

Mr Morrison said the “golden rule” was to choose tax changes that would drive jobs and growth. “These are the benchmarks we set against the tax measures of this government,” he said.

This has always been the political answer to the years of Labor waste and mismanagement. If the country really wants all that free stuff, they will have to pay for it. And if the Budget is used to underscore t...


The 2013-14 tax statistics have been published Catallaxy Files

It’s ugly – the “rich” are being whacked as ever.

So here is the break down for the top 25%, middle 50% and bottom 25%.

Tax stats 1 2013-13

The top 25% of taxpayers are paying 67.5% of net income tax. The top 5% are paying 33.4% of net income tax at an average effective tax rate of 37%.

Tax stats 2 2013-14

Then the break down for those companies that have net tax payable > $1,000,000.

Tax stats 3 2013-13

So half of one per cent of companies earned 68% of taxable income, paid nearly 76% of net company tax with an average effective tax rate of 26.37%.


Open Government: Compare and contrast No Right Turn

What submitters on the OGP Mid-Term Self-Assessment Report said they wanted in the next action plan:

A large number of the submitters queried the Government’s openness in light of the current negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. In terms of the relative importance of other issues raised, Government performance in terms of freedom of information and public record-keeping were noted by a number of submitters as the most important areas for improvement.
What the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism recommended we do:


What SSC is going to force down our throats:


The OIA is mentioned as an afterthought - aspects of the Law Commission's recommendations "could be considered as components of future OGP commitments". But its pretty much crap like that all the way down. And because they chose to start so late, rather than have an extended co-creation process as seen in Australia and the UK, they've made sure there's no time to change any of this even if they wanted to.

Its not really co-creation, is it? Instead, civil society...


Bank holdups to be certified A-OK? (Part 2) Independent Australia

Bank holdups to be certified A-OK? (Part 2)Dr Evan Jones continues his six-part analysis on the series of parliamentary inquiries into systemic bank corruption as the victims of fraudulent foreclosures continue to wait for justice. read now...


How much tax revenue does smoking raise? Catallaxy Files

Yesterday Simon Chapman had an op-ed in the Conversation where he went through 10 smoking myths. Number 5 struck me as just being wrong:

5. Governments don’t want smoking to fall because they are addicted to tobacco tax and don’t want to kill a goose that lays golden eggs

This is perhaps the silliest and most fiscally illiterate argument we hear about smoking. If governments really want to maximise smoking and tax receipts, they are doing a shockingly bad job of it. Smoking in Australia has fallen almost continuously since the early 1960s. In five of the 11 years to 2011, the Australian government received less tobacco tax receipts than it did the year before (see Table 13.6.6).

Now Chapman and I are never going to agree on too many things, so let me first stop and point to where we are in furious agreement.

If governments really want to maximise smoking and tax receipts, they are doing a shockingly bad job of it.

I would never want to criticise anyone pointing out that the government is doing a “shockingly bad job”.

In all seriousness, Chapman is correct on that point. As I wrote in my submission (PDF) to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Inquiry into Illicit Tobacco.

Two forms of taxation need to be distinguished. In the first instance tobacco could (and should) be subject to Ramsey taxation. The so-called Ramsey Rule suggests that goods and services should...


Canterbury's dictatorship ignores water theft No Right Turn

Five years ago, the National Party suspended Cantabrians' democratic right to elect their local government, and imposed a dictatorship to give their water away to farmers. But that apparently wasn't enough - the dictatorship is also systematically ignoring water theft by farmers:

Nearly one in five monitored consent holders with permission to take water in Canterbury were significantly breaking the rules, according to figures from the regional council.

After an unusually dry season in which river flows dropped significantly, it has emerged hundreds were caught breaching their resource consents for taking water.

Many were either taking too much water, or taking water during a restricted period.

More than 350 farmers were found to be violating their consents and taking too much water. And yet only nine of them were served with abatement notices, and none seem to have been prosecuted, let alone having their consents cancelled. Its pretty clear whose side the dictatorship is on, and it isn't the people of Canterbury's.


Open Government: Another mock "consultation" No Right Turn

Two years ago, when the government was developing its first National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership, it engaged in a mockery of consultation, designed purely to "show to the OGP that they had done 'some' consultation". The public were "consulted" on a decisions that had already been made, and the OGP principle of co-creation with civil society went out the window.

According to documents just released on the State Services Commission's website, they're planning to repeat that process.

First, there's a draft high-level timeline for the action plan development process. This shows a "consultation and engagement process" beginning next month and running until late May - but also shows that the submissions will be analysed and the draft document submitted to the OGP before the process even finishes:


So, if you take their submission deadlines at face value, sorry, your submission will be ignored.

Secondly, rather than co-creating with civil society as the OGP requires, SSC has already decided what will be in the action plan. They have a list of themes, wh...


The Goldstein pre-selection Catallaxy Files

I never know until the election whether I am in Melbourne Ports or Goldstein since I live on the cusp and, like the German border with Poland, it keeps moving back and forth. But what I do know is that one of the advantages Labor has over the Coalition is that the selection stream for getting to the top largely travels through the union movement. And among the many things that are learned by being a union official is how to address a crowd. There is always in every workplace someone who is a natural born agitator, but only some of these have political sense and even after that, only some of these have an ability to speak persuasively in public. It is these who rise to the top of the ALP. The policy packages they offer may be maximally damaging to the country, but they certainly can sell. Think Bob Hawke as the archetype.

On the Coalition side, there are few places for a candidate to hone their thoughts or learn the ability to speak in the face of opposition before they make it into Parliament. There are fewer opportunities to be tested in a real showdown, with ideological knives out and values on the line. It has always been a disadvantage to the right side of politics, and not just in Australia, that it does not develop the kinds of speakers that are so common on the left. Which is all preamble to the post by Andrew Bolt the other day on The Liberals need warriors, not worriers, where he begins his post with words I understand only too well:

The Liberals lack MPs who not only understand Liberal values but have the guts and skill to argue for them publicly. It needs MPs who can hold their own against the ABC and the largely Leftist media, and rally the public to their cause. How many MPs do you know like that?

The finalists seeking the Liberal nomination in Goldstein are down to three....


Guest post: unemployed Fairfax journalist Catallaxy Files

Woe betide me – why do you hate us so? Where would you conservatives and libertarians be if we Fairfax journos didn’t offer a daily fare to sink your teeth into?

The nonsense I see on this blog about the domination of the left – if it were so why would Fairfax be shedding journalists? Why would the Guardian be shedding journalists? Why would the ABC be shedding journalists?

We need balance – the blogosphere is dominated by right-wing nutters and this is crowding out sophisticated and thoughtful traditional journalism.

Do you think I can live by writing on a blog? No, I need full-time paid employment where I can offer my acolytes the wisdom of my years.

I know this post will cause many Cats to foam at the mouth – it sort of proves the point that we need Government support for good critical and progressive thinking.

Unfortunately with the new media technology causing pressure on traditional newspaper sales there is really one option.

The ABC should take over Fairfax and should expand from broadcasting into print media. This would enable the SMH, Age, AFR etc to be sold at cost price, maybe even given away free.

Fellow Australians, we cannot allow Fairfax to fail. It must be nationalised.


National makes us poorer No Right Turn

Yesterday, National was wanking about economic growth. Today, the truth emerges: we're actually getting poorer:

Incomes in New Zealand are dropping on a per-person basis, Finance Minister Bill English has admitted.

Although figures out yesterday showed strong economic growth - at 2.5 percent overall - much of that had been driven by strong immigration flows, with a net gain of about 65,000 people in the past year.

The real national disposable income per capita fell 0.4 percent for the year.

Its pretty much National in a nutshell: focus on headline statistics, ignore what they actually mean for people. But if National's growth doesn't make us any better off, what's the point in pursuing it?


Won’t help themselves Catallaxy Files

So Fairfax staff responded to news of mass redundancies by going on strike. On the one hand making it easier for management to identify who should be made redundant while, on the other hand, annoying its now long-suffering but obviously true believer customers.

It’s currently raining in Melbourne and despite being wrapped in plastic my home delivery copy of the AFR is wet. So I thought I’d read it online – but no, the site is down. All the Fairfax sites that I tried to access are down. No doubt, some saboteur striker has spiked the websites too.

Clearly people who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

The media industry is suffering massive disruption from new technologies and old fashioned government crowding out. The old business model is simply not generating enough revenue for media companies to survive, let alone thrive. One solution to that problem is for the media to revert to a patronage model. Fairfax could have had a patron with deep pockets to support it – yet the staff went well out of their way to drive off Gina Rinehart.

So while it is true that corporate failure has a massive human cost for employees, many of the Fairfax employees share (some of) the blame, along with decades of complacent management, for their current predicament.

Update: The Fairfax sites are back up.


A cunning plan? Catallaxy Files

I hope the Government’s plan is a little more cunning than Baldrick’s

Baldrick: Don’t worry Mr B, I have a cunning plan to solve the problem

Blackadder: Yes, Baldrick, let us not forget that you tried to solve the problem of your mother’s low ceiling by cutting off her head.

But in this case I think there is long-term strategic merit in cosying up to the Greens.

  • Under Di Natale’s leadership at least the Greens are willing to negotiate – something Bob Brown and Christine Milne would never do. They proved this by voting against their own same-sex marriage bill to help with Senate voting reform.
  • The Greens are very keen to grow to a larger party and be in a government one day. That brings with it some responsibility that was absent the party as fairies at the bottom of the garden.
  • The Greens canabalise Labor’s votes, they will take seats from Labor.
  • Senate voting must be reformed. It is profoundly undemocratic at present. Yes, we all like David Leyonhjelm. He is a fine Senator. But I don’t want him to be in the Senate merely for a voting preference trick. His experience now enables him to campaign for a democratically earned seat.
  • Labor may resort have to be in coalition with the greens to form government. This will make Labor move to the left, vacating some of the field for the Liberal/National parties. This will increase the probability of a LNP Coalition government and reduce the probability of a Labor/Greens government.
  • With the Greens having a balance in the Senate, they will be blamed for blocking legislation the people want – they will be more accountable for their actions. In the present senate with so many independents there is no one to blame for blockage.

So a plan that wipes out the wacky independents, increases the probability of LNP government, brings more democracy to the Senate, br...


Multinational tax-cheats No Right Turn

A study by the Herald's Matt Nippert has found pervasive tax-cheating by multinational corporations in New Zealand:

A major Herald investigation has found the 20 multinational companies most aggressive in shifting profits out of New Zealand overall paid virtually no income tax, despite recording nearly $10 billion in annual sales to Kiwi consumers.

The analysis of financial information of more than 100 multinational corporations and their New Zealand subsidiaries showed that, had the New Zealand branches of these 20 firms reported profits at the same healthy rate as their parents, their combined income tax bill would have been nearly $490 million.

But according to their most-recent accounts filed with the Companies Office, most covering the 2014 calender year, these 20 companies overall paid just $1.8m in income taxes after several claimed tens of millions of dollars in tax deferments and losses.

The companies in question, including Facebook, Google, Pfizer and Pernod Ricard, said they followed New Zealand laws and differences in profitability between its New Zealand operations and elsewhere were the results of different business models.

Astonishingly, the Minister of Revenue Michael Woodhouse doesn't want to comment about this failure to collect taxes. But he should - because $500 million a year is a lot of money. On a government scale, its a huge policy; not quite KiwiSaver (~$750 million / year), but much bigger than expanding paid parental leave (~$150 million). Or, to put it another way, its a third of the entire police budget. That's not money the government should just be leaving lying around to be stolen by greedy companies and their immoral tax lawyers.

As for how to get it, Australia had the right idea: hold committee hearings, and summon these companies to j...


Scott Morrison worse treasurer than Joe Hockey? Say it isn't so! Independent Australia

Scott Morrison worse treasurer than Joe Hockey? Say it isn't so!Confronted with growing job queues, increasing poverty, record deficits and burgeoning debt, Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull are looking more and more like rabbits caught in the headlights. Alan Austin reports. read now...


One MP who was present at a briefing by Professor Louden on Tuesday told colleagues: "You've got to understand – most little kids are confused, but when they grow up they become normal..." loon pond

It's normal day here at the pond.

Tony Abbott a double-dealing, treacherous, sniping hypocritical bigot?


It seems everyone and everything becomes normal in due course, given enough time and exposure to George and Cory.

Things in the senate are normal, lambs and greens lying down with lions and liberals is normal, Nick putting on the PJs is normal, the poodle being terrified of the Don is uber-normal, and Fairfax finally admitting that Buzzfeed has won ...

Normal ... comment from Aylmer really had them worried. He said the newsrooms had to focus on “what we do best” like state and federal politics, sport, business, international, justice and breaking news and that Fairfax journalists of the future needed to focus on “effective” content, which many took to mean stories which did well online. In other words, they should focus on stories which attract traffic. (More warm Meade here).

Ah, has the pond got just the story for the Fairfaxians, a moving tale of how a one-legged yak beat the odds and became a world famous pole dancer ...


Aylmer's famous capacity for online trendiness?



Turdball and Di Natale, are a real Double Disillusion! Truth Seekers Musings

Turdball and Di Natale, are a real Double Disillusion! Well, with all the expectations heaped on Turdball since the carefully engineered (albeit long overdue, and well deserved) demise of The Abbott, the disappointment, disgust and disillusionment  has been steadily  building, to … Continue reading


Australian Federal Election 2016: State of the Internet North Coast Voices

By February 2016 NBN Co was 65,268 "construction completions" short of its planned budgeted target of 94,273 fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) installations and behind by 740,000 
premises connections, with connection costs to each house or business also blowing out according to an internal company report obtained by Fairfax Media:
"The report, which was never intended for public disclosure, reveals the extent to which the more than $46 billion project has drifted off course, mainly during the time when Mr Turnbull was in direct control as communications minister - the portfolio he held before replacing Tony Abbott as Prime Minister in September……


Turnbull was "given the opportunity of a lifetime and in five to six months it appears he has blown it" North Coast Voices

Amid all the election timing speculation, former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennet, a strong critic of Tony Abbott, is highly critical of the current Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The Australian, 10 March 2016:

There are only seven Saturdays Malcolm Turnbull can realistically choose to send the nation to the polls.

Football grand finals, the Olympics, school holidays and constitutional reasons mean that if the Prime Minister passes on holding a double-dissolution election on July 2, the only workable dates to choose are August 27, September 3, 10, 17 or 24 and October 15.

The great prime ministerial ­advantage in an election year is having the power to name the day to face your destiny and Mr Turnbull yesterday teased journalists about the...

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Thursday, 17 March


Tony Shyster Catallaxy Files

Judith Sloan and I share an abject contempt for that odious maggot Tony Windsor. The skunk slunk off in 2013 rather than being defeated by Barnaby Joyce.

Well it seems the worm has returned. He somehow thinks he will defeat Joyce in New England.

How long, Windsor, will you go on abusing our patience?

How many times can you betray the voters of New England? Were they impressed by that act of villainy you and that equally disgusting piece of detritus, Oakeshott, inflicted by supporting a far left Labor Government?

And then you go on and on and on in some boring monologue trying to justify your return. As if you could sing like Nellie Melba. When your harsh and monotonous voice sounds like fingernails against a chalkboard.

Why not ask for forgiveness and enter a Monastery to undergo penitence and devote yourself to good deeds to offset your betrayal?

But, no, like a typical narcissist you can’t cope out of the limelight.

As Judith wrote on 28 August 2013,

To my mind, Windsor is one of the grubbiest, self serving slugs about when it comes to politicians. … He is an example of the worst kind of politician – a condescending know-it-all who supports policies that are harmful to ordinary people and is only too happy to use taxpayer money to support his pet causes. The pork barrelling that has gone in the seat of New England is just obscene.

I was very unhappy when decided to retire. I would have travelled to New England to campaign against him. His defeat was at the very top of my bucket list.

Well, Judith, it seems that opportunity has presented itself again. I’ll see you in New England, and we can help drive the toad out of New England forever. This is the man who complains about coal mining and yet sold his farm to a wholly owned subsidiary of Whitehaven Coal for almost $5 million.

The leech’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Go, prick t...


What happens when the smartest man who has ever lived becomes president Catallaxy Files

The first of the Trump anti-Hillary ads and it’s on foreign policy where a very large part of the battle for the presidency will be fought. After the last seven years and by then it will be eight, it will undoubtedly be time for a change, and Obama’s former Secretary of State, the woman who oversaw the disaster in Libya and much else, will definitely not bring that change.

It’s hard to imagine how bad Obama’s foreign policy has been. Here in this article by Niall Ferguson we get some of it but hardly the full horror of its incompetence and arrogant stupidity. It’s from The Atlantic and titled, Barack Obama’s Revolution in Foreign Policy. The first para sets the scene:

It is a criticism I have heard from more than one person who has worked with President Obama: that he regards himself as the smartest person in the room—any room. Jeffrey Goldberg’s fascinating article reveals that this is a considerable understatement. The president seems to think he is the smartest person in the world, perhaps ever.

And after traipsing through Obama’s deep thoughts on foreign policy, this is where we end.

If you think you are smarter than every foreign-policy expert in the room, any room, then it is tempting to make up your own grand strategy. That is what Obama has done, to an extent that even his critics underestimate. There is no “Obama doctrine”; rather, we see here a full-blown revolution in American foreign policy. And this revolution can be summed up as follows: The foes shall become friends, and the friends foes. . . .

If the arc of history is in fact bending toward Islamic extremism, sectarian conflict, networks...

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.......


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