Saturday, May 28, 2011

News items and comments

Hicks' friends are still dangerous
THE US Homeland Security chief has said the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba is as dangerous as al-Qaida.

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His victims had wants too
RATKO Mladic has asked for strawberries and Russian literature on his first days in detention.

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We can't accept corruption
FORMER NSW Crime Commission assistant director Mark Standen's relationship with an alleged international drug dealer began with an email.
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It is all fun and games, then ..
A TEENAGER who suffered critical head injuries after being struck by a passing express train at a Sydney railway station was trying to stop his friend from assaulting a CityRail employee, police said ...
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If you fail to plan you plan to fail
THE North West Rail Link could become a shuttle service between Rouse Hill and Chatswood if another Harbour crossing is not built, it was claimed yesterday.
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Ents don't really exist
A MAJESTIC 140-year-old moreton bay fig is the latest victim of brazen tree vandalism in one of Sydney's most exclusive enclaves.
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There is a high cost to not having a Bradfield scheme
TWO hundred have gone and another 400 are set to pack their bags. These are the Sydneysiders driven from the city to seven regional NSW cities by the high cost of living.
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Good picks
FACEBOOK says it has hired two aides of former US President George W Bush as lobbyists.

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That'll Teach 'em
ARCHAEOLOGISTS plan to raise one of Blackbeard's anchors one last time Friday, yanking one huge pirate artifact from the sea floor in hopes of getting at some of the tiniest.
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One bad ALP purchase goes, another will replace it.
IT had been plagued with problems since it was bought 17 years ago but, on the day it was decommissioned, HMAS Manoora's chief petty officer Ben Bryan did not want to hear a bad word said about it.
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Protectionism fails the consumer too
AUSTRALIAN retailers must explain why they charge huge mark-ups on products that cost half as much from overseas internet companies, consumer group Choice says.
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‎24 died since ALP were elected
THE highly decorated Australian Commando killed in Afghanistan this week has been hailed as a "warrior" example to his mates by a fellow Special Forces soldier who survived a similar roadside bomb bla...
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Security costs
THOUSANDS of Australian credit cards have been cancelled and reissued after a possible security breach involving a credit card merchant.
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Knowledge is strength
AUSTRALIAN research strengthening the link between a common virus and stillborn babies has prompted warnings for pregnant women, especially those with older children, to be extra diligent about hygien...
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Those who cannot manage small things can't manage big ones
TIGER Airways has overhauled its rostering after finding cases of crew being too tired to fly.

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None would be better
A CUT-PRICE carbon price of just $10 per tonne is being backed by Australia's leading business group amid concerns that the Gillard government's climate change plans could cripple industry.
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An ALP gift of fraud.
"PHANTOM" pink batts installation has been revealed in a major fraud investigation by federal authorities.

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I look forward to taming that wild.
THEY are awe-inspiring images of stark, snow-capped peaks and glaciers. Of rusting shipwrecks frozen in ice and in time.
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It is called corruption
THE NSW Labor Party is dodging strict donation laws by using a legislative loophole to funnel cash into its country branch.
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He also took many lives
A DOCTOR has been bailed on charges of endangering the lives of more than 50 women who allegedly became infected with hepatitis C at an abortion clinic.
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Greens don't actually care about the people suffering. They are just cracking the whip to show who is master.
A FORMER federal human rights commissioner yesterday condemned the "Malaysian solution", with both houses of parliament set to vote to do the same to Julia Gillard's asylum seeker swap.
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I am concerned the government is incompetent.
THE Gillard government has put sports bookmakers on notice, telling them to rein in spruiking of in-game betting during sports broadcasts or risk having laws introduced to control it within 12 months.
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The cost is partly because we have failed to produce the Bradfield scheme. Australia needs water to open land.
THE average Sydney family pays up to $5000 more a year for the same lifestyle as those on similar incomes in other Australian capitals.
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Welcome home
DEEP down Peter De Silva was dreading Mothers' Day - the first since his wife Emma had given birth to their daughter Eloise in February.
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Bush had determination .. and drive
www.foxnews.com
It's time to acknowledge the debt owed by electric cars, not to today's crop of bureaucrats, but to the bĂȘte noire of progressives everywhere, President George W. Bush.
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It could also be very dark ..
www.foxnews.com
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has publicly announced his new challenge for 2011 -- only eating meat that he has slaughtered with his own bare hands, news.com.au reported Friday.
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Do you want to play a game?
www.foxnews.com
China set up a specialized online Blue Army unit that it claims will protect the People's Liberation Army from outside attacks, prompting fears that the crack team was being used to infiltrate foreign governments' systems.
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It is ok. It is our money.
www.foxnews.com
European officials say the Group of Eight rich nations will offer about $20 billion in pledges and commitments for Arab countries that have thrown out autocrats and are struggling to build new democracies.
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Ireland finds itself in the strangest of places
www.news.com.au
MORE proof that space is amazing, this time from the not-too-distant constellation of Orion, where one star is currently being bombarded with green crystal rain.
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I do not want him on an Australian Passport.
www.news.com.au
FORMER Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib says his Australian passport has been returned to him - and has revealed he has an exclusive media deal.
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If he were alive today he would be 101
www.dailytelegraph.com.au
POLICE have found a rifle, pre-decimal Australian coins and more human remains in bushland at Hornsby.

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Obama is wrong to ignore the moon. We need to go back to the moon .. for the water that can be used in transport elsewhere.
www.dailytelegraph.com.au
THE moon may have a lot more water than imagined, perhaps as much as on Earth in some parts.

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If you hit your friends for fun, the public don't want to see your fun
www.dailytelegraph.com.au
A TEENAGE boy was knocked unconscious and has serious head injuries after being slammed into the side of a passing express train last night.
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One should not infer from 345 burgers a year average that I have take away 345 times a year. More like 100 times. This doesn't count pizza, chicken or kebabs ..
www.news.com.au
AUSTRALIA is expected to spend more than $37 billion on takeaway food this year, making us the 11th biggest-spending fast food nation on earth.
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An abysmal straw dog advert on what could be a serious issue of misappropriation of funds
Source: www.youtube.com
www.getup.org.au Fund solutions, not pollution.


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Greens are insane. True heirs to ALP
TWO very different stories illustrate the corrosive nature of green ideology, far away from Bob Brown's "hate media" circus.
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Bloomberg profiles Tyler Cowen.

Here’s Mark Perry on “anti-dumping” duties imposed by Uncle Sam on Chinese-made wooden furniture. And stealing a page from Mark’s briliant play book, I do a bit of editing on the linked report from the Washington Post:

“To help their American customers avoid a 2005 U.S. tariff on American purchases of Chinese-made wooden bedroom furniture, Chinese furniture companies moved operations to other Asian countries, thwarting U.S. efforts to curb “dumping,American consumers’ ability to save money by buying Chinese-made furniture.”

Writing at Forbes, Cato Institute president Ed Crane powerfully explains the perniciousness of the notion that we Americans “are all in this together.” Here are Ed’s concluding paragraphs:

It has been duly noted by scholars that the two great totalitarian philosophies of the 20th century, communism and fascism, had similar methodologies and similar goals, so to speak. Certainly, denigrating the importance of the individual and subsuming his or her personal interests to the greater goals of the national movement were integral to both those horrific philosophies. Yet this underlying anti-individualist, collectivist theme continues — not just on the left — in today’s political environment.

Neoconservative superstar David Brooks wrote in the New York Times just this past March, “Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise. Our lives are given meaning by the service we supply to the nation. I wonder if Americans are unwilling to support the sacrifices that will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe in part because they are less conscious of themselves as components of a national project.”

And I wonder if it has ever dawned on Mr. Brooks that the “fiscal catastrophe” we Americans face is a direct result of national projects called Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Oh yes, and the national project to make every American a homeowner. Not to put too fine a point on it, but there would be no $20 trillion unfunded liability in Social Security had we allowed individual accounts. There would be huge surpluses. And limiting house purchases to individuals who could afford them would have avoided the multi-trillion-dollar disaster that national project created.

It’s enough to make you want to go out and see Atlas Shrugged. Again.

Speaking of Cato, I’m eager to attend this June 15th debate on stopping government from regulating what goes into our mouths (just as we stop government from regulating what comes out of our mouths; apologies to the ghost of Milton Friedman).

The great Richard Epstein on the delusion of “fair trade.”

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Here’s a letter to the programming director of Marketplace Morning Report:

Speaking on this morning’s program about prices in Japan, the BBC’s Roland Buerk opined that “it really becomes a habit for people. You know, companies start to pander to people’s needs to pay less. McDonald’s for example introduced a 100 yen – just over $1 – menus a few years ago. There’s a battle between companies to make jeans for the cheapest possible price. You can buy a pair of jeans for about $5 now in Japan. Once you’re in that downward spiral, it’s very hard to pull out of it.”

Huh??

Mr. Buerk’s knee-jerk hostility to deflation leads him to lament the fundamental source of economic growth and widespread prosperity: efficiencies and innovations driven by competition.

Deflation is harmful if caused by a contracting money supply.* But when prices fall because competition drives firms to operate more efficiently and pass along these efficiencies to consumers in the form of lower prices, economies grow. Resources once needed to feed and clothe people become available to produce other goods and services. Consumers once unable to afford other goods and services can now do so. And so it goes, and grows, as competition incessantly prods producers to “pander” (as Mr. Buerk sneeringly refers to this engine of economic growth) to consumers.

Does Mr. Buerk believe that Japan’s economy will recover faster and thrive better if producers stop such “pandering”? Do competition-sparked efficiencies really cause a “downward spiral” from which the Japanese should seek to escape?

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

* Yes, yes – I’m aware that demand to hold larger money balances is also harmful in a world with downwardly sticky prices – but there’s only so much space in a letter-to-the-editor (and the prices that this Mr Buerk points to clearly aren’t sticky downward!).

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Today’s Washington Post offers a thoroughly sensible editorial on why the current city administration in Washington, DC., would be wrong to require (as it seems to be threatening to do) Wal-Mart to build a store in location X in order for the city to give that retailer permission to build in locations A, B, C, & D. But I was baffled by this passage in the editorial:

There’s no question that a fair amount of horse-trading goes on when companies enter — or are courted by — a market. But threatening to interfere with a governmental process is nothing more than a shakedown.

More-accurate wording would be:

There’s no question that a fair amount of horse-trading goes on when companies wishing to set up shop seek the permission of — or are courted by — a government. But threatening to interfere with a market process is nothing more than a shakedown.

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COW COLLEGE

Tim Blair – Saturday, May 28, 11 (05:46 am)

CSIRO moo-schoolers revise earlier claims:

Australia’s huge cattle herd in the north might be burping less planet-warming methane emissions than thought, a study released on Friday shows, suggesting the cows are more climate friendly …

Scientists at Australia’s state-backed research body the CSIRO say the amount of methane from cattle fed on tropical grasses in northern Australia could be nearly a third less than thought.

Stupid science can’t even get cows right.

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403 DAYS UNTIL LABOR’S FAB FIVE TAX

Tim Blair – Saturday, May 28, 11 (05:01 am)

It’s a Blair’s Law carbon tax summit:

This weekend Mr Combet, Senator Milne, Mr Oakeshott and Tony Windsor will debate contentious issues, including the starting carbon price and industry compensation. Economist Ross Garnaut will brief them on his final climate review update, due out on Tuesday.

All that brainpower in one room! Our decarbonised future is secure. Anyway, remember all the claims from Labor and its supporters that business wanted the “certainty” of a carbon tax? Well, we already know that many businessesinstead want the certainty of no carbon tax, and now the Business Council of Australia indicates the vast extent of the certainty it will accept:

The Business Council of Australia has called for a $10-a-tonne starting price for the carbon tax and demanded all trade-exposed industries be fully exempt in the absence of similar action from global competitors.

That’s some gold-plated certainty for you. Even carbon-caring businesses that are up for the tax only want to chuck a few cents at it or otherwise be entirely left out. Look who’s unhappy:

The Greens will have a major say in the starting price and they are describing the proposal of $10 as “laughable”.

By contrast, Green demands are extremely serious:

“The Greens don’t want any transitional assistance,” [TRUenergy chief executive Richard McIndoe] said. “They don’t want to see the balance sheets of the existing generators kept intact.

“They’re looking for power stations to close down; they’re looking for the businesses to go bust and for people to lose their jobs.”

Most likely is we’ll end up with a tax – if it reaches that point – pitched below the point at which it might influence investment but high enough to draw in tasty government revenue (regardless of what tax is established, of course, no difference will be made to the climate). Or, as Paul Kelly puts it:

Legislating the carbon scheme cannot deliver investment certainty. What it will deliver is a new political brawl.

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Chill it with those alarms

Andrew Bolt – Friday, May 27, 11 (04:56 pm)

Just weather, of course, so remember that the next time a heat wave is once more hailed as proof of global warming:

ADELAIDE shivered through its longest May cold spell in 24 years, weatherzone.com.au says.

(Thanks to reader Owen.)

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Emissions trading didn’t work, admits New Jersey

Andrew Bolt – Friday, May 27, 11 (05:09 pm)

New Jersey gives up on the emissions trading that Julia Gillard wants for Australia:


In a press conference moments ago in Trenton, Gov. Christie announced his support for repealing the state’s cap-and-trade law and withdrawing from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a 10-state regional compact in the Northeast that implements a cap-and-trade energy tax scheme from Maine to Maryland.

“It’s a failure,” Christie said today. “RGGI has not changed behavior and it does not reduce emissions.”

But Gillard will make it work here, right?

(Thanks to many readers.)

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And which children are paying the bills?

Andrew Bolt – Friday, May 27, 11 (05:40 pm)

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Will the teacher next have the students working dawn to dusk and handing over their money to pay for these newcomers’ upkeep and benefits? Or waiting in some other cage to be told someone pushed ahead of them in the queue?

PARADE College students lock themselves in a makeshift detention centre at their school to raise awareness about the plight of asylum seekers in mandatory detention.

Twenty year 10 and year 12 students voluntarily spent 24 hours in a cage. The students slept on concrete in cramped quarters behind wire fencing, ate basic food and went without phones or iPods.

“Even though it is only for 24 hours, it is designed to show them what it would be like to be in detention,’’ Parade College teacher Rachel Roche said.

As you may have guess if you are Victorian, this school is in the Greens-rich area of Banyule and Nillumbik, recently ravaged by fires made even more catastrophic by green-inspired opposition to fuel-reduction burns.

(Thanks to reader Steven.)

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Other Farrellys would have just blamed global warming

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (06:49 am)

But one way or another, the villain always is oil, that fount and symbol of our prosperity:

Elizabeth Farrelly in The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday:

THE industry which we must contain - that should be not just plain-wrapped but locked in a small dark room and poked with a burnt stick - is Big Hydrocarbon. We’re facing the sixth mass extinction in history, the only one caused by an implicated species, and a good part of it is down to hydrocarbons. It’s not just climate change, either ... The London sparrow is all but gone and studies blame diesel particulates, to which everyone switched for cost and climate reasons.

Then again. Michael Macarthy in The Independent August 19 last year:

HOUSE sparrows in Britain have declined by 68 per cent since 1977 but, curiously, they are faring better in Paris and Berlin. Lack of nesting places and insect shortage have always seemed the most likely [reason] although many people blame magpies and other predators for declines in small birds. Dr Will Peach from the [Royal Society for the Protection of Birds] said: “Each pair of house sparrows must rear at least five chicks every year to stop their numbers falling. But in our study, too many chicks were starving in their nests. Others were fledging [leaving the nest] but were too weak to live for much longer than that. If the birds nested in areas rich in insects, they did much better. Where there were few insects, young house sparrows were likely to die. Young house sparrows need insects rather than seeds, peanuts or bread to survive.”

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Business mice demand useless gesture

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (06:58 am)

I’d like the Business Council to now explain what good such a pitifully low tax would do, especially when many of the biggest emitters are compensated:

The Business Council of Australia has called for a $10-a-tonne starting price for the carbon taxand demanded all trade-exposed industries be fully exempt in the absence of similar action from global competitors.

It seems to me the BCA is demonstrating a complete lack of principle - or of backbone. If it believes in the need to fight global warming with a tax, then the tax must be high enough to actually achieve something - like a cut in emissions. If it does not believe in fighting global warming with a tax, then it should say so and not lumber Australians with an utterly futile cost.

UPDATE

And what happened to that argument by big business that we needed a “price on carbon” to give it “certainty”. Paul Kelly confronts a reality that’s actually been clear for years:

The politics are obvious. The initial carbon price won’t be high enough to redirect investment. The Greens, aware they must retreat and compromise this time, unlike 2009, are preparing the ground by stressing a steep carbon price trajectory. This leads to a much bigger point - legislating the carbon scheme cannot deliver investment certainty. What it will deliver is a new political brawl.

There is no one in business or politics who has a clue what the effective tax on a tonne of carbon dioxide will be by, say, 2030. It could very well be as low as zero or as high as $100, or even more.

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In the end, it’s still not “our” ABC if you are a conservative

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (07:15 am)

Chris Kenny may simply be redefining the same problem:

There are many who work at the ABC who accept there is a culture of providing a progressive counterbalance, yet they proudly defend their own professionalism and adherence to guidelines to avoid bias and remain true to their craft and their audiences. There are ABC supporters who argue such a culture is a necessity, to provide a pushback to what they perceive as the conservative political culture of the commercial media. (One Labor cabinet minister has been known to joke with confidants that he didn’t mind ABC bias while it supported Labor but he hates it now because it favours the Greens.) And there are others inside and outside the corporation who maintain this is rubbish, the ABC is impartial, and would point to last week’s stoush between Bob Brown and Chris Uhlmann as exhibit No 1.

To focus too much on alleged political bias is to view the debate too narrowly. The key is the extent to which the ABC engages with the broad sweep of Australian society and its views and values, rather than a select, if sizeable, audience. Should workers in the suburbs be paying for programs such as Deborah Cameron’s in Sydney, or Jon Faine’s in Melbourne, that routinely denigrate suburban values and criticise politicians for appealing to them?

I’m not sure I hear Faine routinely “denigrating” suburban values, but it’s true that his political values are of a green-tinged Left at odds with much of the electorate.

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We’ve been mugs for longer than this

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (07:26 am)

Paul Kelly wonders why boat people are so often portrayed as fleeing persecution:

This week (Immigration Minister Chris) Bowen released figures showing that in the first quarter of this year the approval rate for asylum-seekers at the end of the determination process but before court appeals was only 48 per cent. That is, our system finds most boat arrivals are not refugees.

Why does this not receive more media attention? Is it not a story that more than half the boatpeople, on latest figures, are not refugees? Among Iranians the present approval rate is 22 per cent. The story, again, is that genuine refugees from Iran are being followed by economic migrants. The detention centre troubles at Christmas Island and Villawood heavily involved Iranians who had been rejected as refugees.

I’d go further. Is it really likely that Iranians, for instance, were mostly real refugees two years ago, but now are probably not? Or put it this way: has Iran changed that much over the past two years? Or has this Government and its immigration officials belatedly woken up?

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It’s the free speech of the Left than counts

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (07:33 am)

Remember when people such as David Marr, Clive Hamilton, Robert Manne and Julian Burnside insisted the Howard Government was silencing dissent and bullying its critics? Or as Marr put it:


Since 1996, Howard has cowed his critics, muffled the press, intimidated the ABC, gagged scientists, silenced non-government organisations, neutered Canberra’s mandarins, curtailed parliamentary scrutiny, censored the arts, banned books, criminalised protest and prosecuted whistleblowers.

I haven’t noticed a single one of these gentlemen speak out during a recent trial involving someone’s right to speak on an essentially political issue. But nor have I heard them on this kind of abuse of power, either:

...outgoing Woodside Petroleum chief executive Don Voelte and Shell Australia chairwoman Ann Pickard ... told The Australian Deutsche Bank Business Leaders Forum in Perth that only a handful of ministers in Canberra understood business.

“There are some ministers (in Canberra) that get it; they are very good to do business with,” Mr Voelte said. There are others that ... I’ll stop.”

When asked about the Treasurer, the outgoing Woodside chief simply said: “Mum taught me one thing: never speak badly about anybody.”

Their comments came after Woodside chairman Michael Chaney claimed last year that business leaders were being threatened by federal MPs if they spoke out on key issues.

Previous examples of this largely ignored phenemonon under Labor are here.

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At this rate Turnbull will have no one but himself to save him

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (07:55 am)

Tony Abbott is so far defying the counsel of the hot heads who want him to sack Malcolm Turnbull, but Turnbull’s support has now withered so much that he can’t afford to be caught red-handed undermining the man who took his crown:

One senior Liberal thinks it has already become such a chronic difficulty that their leader needs to take drastic action:

‘’It’s inevitable that Turnbull and Abbott are going to have a confrontation. At some point, Malcolm’s behaviour will become so outrageous that Tony will have to sack him.’’

So, according to this Liberal, why wait?

Abbott should take the slightest opportunity that offers itself, like last week’s Turnbull interview on ABC TV’s Lateline, where he was speaking outside his portfolio responsibilities. And he should do it now while the party’s poll numbers are strong, he argues. An angry Turnbull might attempt to challenge Abbott for the leadership, but would be defeated. Liberal head-counters claim Turnbull could expect fewer than 10 votes out of 92 in the Liberal party room.

‘’He would be humiliated and that would be the end of his political career,’’ says the Liberal.

But other senior Liberals counter that it would be a misjudgment to sack the shadow minister for communications. First, it would look like a fearful overreaction by a nervous leader. Second, it would remove a talented man from front-line combat, and Turnbull is the most highly rated Liberal in the party, according to the polls. Third, it would only liberate Turnbull from the constraints of the shadow cabinet. He could speak out freely and become a much bigger risk for the leader than he is at the moment.

An 82-10 split? How far Turnbull has fallen since he lost the leadership ballot to Abbott by a single vote. He might with profit ask himself how he’s alienated so many colleagues and conservatives.

UPDATE

Peter van Onselen’s column fulsomely defending Turnbull, and accusing Abbott of being a drunken hypocrite, reads like a self-contradiction:

While Turnbull is no doubt happy for others to plumb for his return, or indeed for a promotion to the shadow treasury over his one-time mate Joe Hockey, Turnbull isn’t engaging in the sort of backgrounding that he is being accused of. Far from it.

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Minchin is right: it’s more pragmatic for the Liberals to be principled

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (08:09 am)

A wise warning to his colleagues from Liberal powerbroker Nick Minchin, about to leave the Senate:

As I prepare to retire from 32 years of full-time service to the Liberal Party, I can reflect on what is the secret to success for a maior political party like ours....

(S)uccess really lies in getting the balance right between Principle and Pragmatism -between the pursuit of good policy and the need to retain popular support.

Getting the right balance can be extraordinarily difficult to achieve -and if a party errs TOO far one way or the other, success will prove elusive.

Too many Parties, Governments and MPs tend to err on the side of populism -that is they become pollwatchers or what I like to call “finger-to-the-wind” operators. That is ultimately self-defeating because you end up standing for nothing as you desperately try to follow the fickle winds of public opinion.

I strongly believe that the path to success lies in putting the primary focus on developing and articulating good policy -but with a very close eye to public opinion. In a democracy you can never afford to get too for ahead of the people.

Parties aspiring to Government should exist to put in place good policy based on sound principles aimed at improving and strengthening our society and our economy....

Perhaps (the former Howard) Government’s biggest and arguably fatal mistake was to err too far in the direction of Principle in its final-term changes to our industrial relations laws ("WorkChoices"). There is no doubt an inadequate political filter was applied to that policy prior to its introduction.

That experience must not be allowed to be the catalyst for a reversion to populism now that we are in Opposition. The Federal Coalition has a responsibility not to pursue populism at the expense of the nation’s long-term interests.

Minchin is not accusing Abbott - at least publicly - of having done this. Yet there was this clash on Tuesday:

TONY ABBOTT has clashed with his senior colleague Nick Minchin over the Coalition’s decision to oppose an excise increase on alternative fuels...
Some Liberal MPs, including Kelly O’Dwyer and Scott Ryan, had argued (in a party meeting) the Coalition should support a Labor bill that will phase in over five years an excise increase on LPG, LNG, and compressed natural gas.

The increase would complete a Howard government policy which was set in train in 2004 when Senator Minchin was the finance minister.... (Minchin) said the excise increase was a Howard government policy and a good policy. In what sources said was a pointed observation about Mr Abbott’s style, Senator Minchin said that when the Coalition was last in opposition in the 1980s, ‘’we supported good reforms’’…

The fuel excise measure is worth $518 million to the budget and Senator Minchin said it was incumbent on the opposition to at least suggest alternative savings to account for the hole in the budget.

As I’ve written before, I found Abbott’s reported response disturbing:

Sources said Mr Abbott had argued that circumstances had changed. The focus on the cost of living was a political winner for the Coalition and all the debate about climate change meant it made sense to not increase tax on cleaner fuels.

Mr Abbott prevailed. He told Senator Minchin that faced with a choice between ‘’policy purity and pragmatic political pragmatism, I’ll take pragmatism every time’’.

To ditch principle for politics might work if the election is just months away, but over the longer term it is a trap, even a cancer, to argue for populist policies that are logically or philosophically unsound. You tend to alienate your most principled supporters (usually your best) and you’re more easily caught out in the media as a twister. The public starts to doubt that you stand for anything. You probably start to wonder that yourself. And so, with the election still two years away, it may actually be pragmatic to be a “policy purist”.

But Minchin ends his lette to his colleagues with a denial that this is an attack on Abbott, even if it’s a very good word of advice:

We are faced with a minority Federal Labor Government floundering to find direction and retain public support. Its vulnerability should not tempt the Coalition to steer a populist course at the expense of good policy.

Victory in 2013 will come from sound policies based on strong principles, and not from cheap populism. Tony Abbott is the man to lead us to that victory.

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Liberals forget the election is in two years, not two months

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (08:30 am)

image

YES, I did say that Julia Gillard was finished as Prime Minister.

And yes, the polls are now catastrophic for Labor.

But remember Steven Bradbury. Even the loser can skate home if everyone in front of him finds a way to fall over.

And the Liberals seem not only in danger of falling over their own fat feet, but smugly unaware that Labor may be sneaking out from under the worst of its strife including its boat people fiasco and even some of its global warming madness.

However far behind the Gillard Government is now, the Coalition would be fools to think it will be this uncompetitive two years from now, when the election is due.

Let’s be fairly sure of that timing. The worse it gets for Labor, the less the independents propping it up will want to force an early election.

Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor would almost certainly be tossed out of their own conservative seats. Andrew Wilkie in Tasmania could well lose, too.

And all of them, plus the Greens, won’t want to risk their lovely balance of power.

That means the Liberals must think of not being ready to win an election now, but in 2013. So what will they then face?

It may be that boat arrivals by then will be down to a trickle. True, the number of boat people coming in the first three months of this year was still only just down on the same time last year.

But Labor can dare hope that its five-for-one swap deal with Malaysia may deter other boat people from arriving.

That still leaves the Government with nearly 7000 people in detention, and perhaps 200 deaths at sea on its conscience, but the Liberals should not reckon on boat people being the issue in 2013 that it is now.

Then there’s Labor’s waste. I doubt Labor will ever be fully forgiven its squandering of billions, and the $37 billion NBN seems a white elephant about to do mess all over the carpet.

But Labor is odds on to bring the Budget back into surplus before the election, by hook or by lots of crook, which should give it a fig leaf of economic respectability, providing the NBN hasn’t yet hit the fan.

The carbon dioxide tax, which will hurt everyone without cutting the world’s temperature, is still deadly for Labor.

But at least the Greens this week suggested they may compromise something new for these fanatics and agree to a tax so low that its pain can be buried until the election under billions of dollars of compensation.

That may just fool enough voters into thinking it’s Christmas, rather than a down payment on disaster.

And here is where the Coalition may be misjudging, carrying on too often as if the election were in two months, not two years.

For instance, it insists the Malaysian boat people deal, while indeed coming too late and costing too much, won’t work.

Actually, by 2013, it may.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey keeps insisting: “the Labor Party will never deliver a Budget surplus”.

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A sorry would suit Turnbull better

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (08:33 am)

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MALCOLM Turnbull plays the victim, but his fingerprints are all over the Liberals latest in-fighting.

On Thursday, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that poor Turnbull and four other Coalition MPs had been accused by their own side of totally unacceptable behaviour by missing votes in Parliament.

Those five MPs had caused the Opposition to lose divisions it would have won, and cost Opposition MPs in marginal seats a rare chance to give speeches about their electorates.

Yet Turnbull was outraged that this criticism of his good self was made in an email sent by the Opposition chief whip, Warren Entsch, to all Coalition MPs.

“(To) send a letter out like that, it’s effectively a press release,” he said. “That’s the obvious intent of it.”

His anonymous supporters even briefed journalists that this attack was probably leaked by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. And that’s where logic must kick in and kick Turnbull.

Is it likely Abbott wanted a public brawl with his communications spokesman just when he had Labor on the ropes?

To see how keen Abbott is to avoid such trouble, see how calmly he reacted to Turnbull’s overblown praise last week of British Prime Minister David Cameron - a “man of vision” for adopting the kind of grandiose global warming policies Turnbull prefers to Abbott’s.

So whose interests were served by this fuss over a much-merited rebuke of Turnbull?

Well, let’s first establish that the email was no more than what Turnbull had coming from Entsch, who as whip must ensure MPs turn up to vote.

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WA says it doesn’t need us

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (08:42 am)

Why should Western Australia prop up the eastern states with its mining money? Michael Stuchbury on the fascinating sound of WA turning off the tap to the rest of us, taking another $2 billion royalties that Canberra had planned on snatching for itself:

The WA Premier (Colim Barnett) insisted his state legally owned the iron ore… In Perth at the time, Swan retorted that Barnett had scored an own goal because WA’s iron ore royalty hike would be more than offset by a lower share of state GST revenue and reduced infrastructure grants tied to Labor’s federal mineral resources rent tax.

But Barnett this week said the GST was “increasingly irrelevant” for WA.... And, unless the state’s projected GST decline was halted, Perth’s relationship with Canberra would come “second” to its links with “Asia, China and Japan”.

Prodded by reporters, Barnett ruled out a WA “secession”.

“But what is a more probable outcome is an unravelling of commonwealth-state arrangements, both financial relations and relations in other areas,” he said....

WA signed up to John Howard’s GST as a state growth tax. Now its GST money is being taken away in order to share its mining boom with the other states. So WA rejects the deal, threatening to rely on its Asian market rather than remain tied to Canberra’s chariot wheels…

Already, WA’s slice of the national GST pie has shrunk to 68 per cent of its equal per capita share… Now the WA Treasury forecasts that this will fall further to a bare 33c in the dollar as its mining boom receipts build over the next several years....

Barnett’s budget forecasts that WA’s iron ore royalties will soar from $1.8bn in the wake of the global financial crisis to $4.6bn by 2014-15. But its annual GST money is forecast to shrink from $3.6bn to less than $2bn.

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Fact one: emissions will be higher, not lower

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 28, 11 (08:53 am)

Terry McCrann says the latest call to stop man-made warming ignores reality:

IF the science is as settled as climate commissioner Will Steffen asserts, then the Gillard government has only one rational policy option. It is the Lomborg solution.

It should immediately abandon all attempts to impose costly and inefficient wind and solar energy generation and, more broadly, abandon the 2020 target of cutting our greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent; with the redirection of all those freed resources to dealing with the perceived consequences of a hotter world.

Because it will get hotter; indeed, much hotter. That is to say, according to Steffen’s “settled science”. Because, simply put, global emissions in 2020 - at the end of Steffen’s “(absolutely) Critical Decade” - will be higher than they are today. Perhaps much higher.

The die will have been cast. For, according to Steffen and his settled science, that would then require the world to agree to cut global emissions by 9 per cent a year, every year from 2020, all the way to zero. That is, to total global decarbonisation in 30 years. And even that would only get us to a still 2 degrees hotter world. According to Steffen and his settled science.

You would have to rate the chances of doing that as zero....

The reason is of course, if not exclusively, China. On its present economic and energy course, by 2020 China will have increased the world’s annual emissions by up to 25 per cent.

Even if it achieves the huge reduction in its energy intensity that it says it is aiming at, it would still have increased annual global emissions by at least 7 per cent.

Just for comparison, that 7 per cent increase alone is equal to nearly five times our total emissions… And all this is before factoring in the increased emissions from India and the rest of the developing world…

Even if you factor in the most aggressive emissions reduction agreement; one that is global, and binding, and actually rigorously enforced, you end up with a world unstoppably hotter than 2 degrees according to Steffen’s settled science.


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