Piers Akerman – Thursday, May 12, 11 (03:34 am)
The wind, while still warm enough to encourage bare chests or perhaps t-shirts, carries within it the hint of creeping cold.
We are no longer in the South Pacific.
Continue reading 'Arctic air blows away South Pacific'
Tim Blair – Saturday, May 14, 11 (06:26 am)
Conflicted Greens admit voting against themselves in order to keep their governmental host pod alive:
Senator Brown is believed to have told Ms Gillard the Greens have been voting down mischievous Coalition legislation and motions, for example, even on issues the Greens support.
‘’We have had to oppose some of our own measures that appear as Coalition bills in order to protect the government,’’ a source said.
Completing that line: “In order to protect the government from voters.” Or, as Bob Brown puts it:
The Senator said: “Tony Abbott, there will be no election. This country will go to a full term with this government. We the Greens are committed to stability.”
UPDATE. Bring on the stability:
The first poll to measure the national mood following the May 10 Budget – conducted by The Daily Telegraph-Galaxy – revealed fewer than a third of Australians believed it was good for the economy.
Two of the Budget’s key “spend and save” measures were soundly rejected.
Support for the $300 million digital set-top box scheme for pensioners was lowest among those it sought to benefit, with more than 60 per cent of older Australians saying they didn’t want it.
Tim Blair – Saturday, May 14, 11 (06:01 am)
Even before a carbon dioxide tax is introduced locally, Australia’s national airline is hit with an EU carbon toll:
Qantas will be forced to lift international airfares to Europe from next January after being slapped with a penalty by the European Union because Australia does not have a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
The national carrier told business leaders at a meeting in Canberra this week that under changes to the EU’s emissions trading scheme, Qantas would be forced to pay a tax on 15 per cent of its carbon emissions from its nearest port of call.
Of course, the Labor-Independent-Greens government will likely see this as a positive:
The government will seize on the fact that Qantas will face the impost to back its argument that, if the nation doesn’t move, Australian businesses could eventually be penalised by carbon border adjustments and airline passengers will be first to suffer.
If we do introduce a carbon tax, it won’t mean that EU taxes will be lifted. It’ll be a tax on top of a tax. Alternatively, the government could act for Australian interests and tell the EU to go to hell. Australians who previously agitated for a republic should also be outraged at any Labor kneeling to Euro laws. Those who currently have reservations about a carbon tax or more directly oppose it now include the citizens of Illawarra, Hafda’s Butchery, Labor senator Doug Cameron’s working people, Rio Tinto, Alcoa, dairy farmers, barley growers, insurance companies, local councils, state governments, CFOs, food and grocery producers, miners, union members, Gerry Harvey, G&S Engineering, Sam Gadaleta, BHP, Queensland Labor members, the Noosa Chamber of Commerce, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Northern Territory parliament, Santos, the Australian Taxi Industry Association, Alumina Limited, an industrial group representing Amcor, Bluescope Steel, Boral, CSR, Sucrogen, Sugar Australia, Rheem, Vicpole and Dexion, Incitec, the Taxi Council of Queensland and also the Australian Agricultural Company, the Australian Coal Association, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries and the Federation of Automotive Product Manufacturers. Plus Penrith’s Sun Masamune sake brewery:
When asked what his limit would be, brewery managing director Allan Noble said there was no such thing.
“You don’t give up,” he said. “But it’s getting harder and harder.”
When asked what the tax would mean, Mr Noble said they would have to go back to the drawing board.
Tim Blair – Saturday, May 14, 11 (05:33 am)
In revenge for the death of Osama bin Laden, the Pakistan Taliban kills 80 Pakistanis:
The group threatened bigger attacks to come, in a statement shortly after the explosions targeting newly trained recruits about to go home on leave in northwestern Pakistan’s Charsadda district, close to the border with Afghanistan.
“This was the first revenge for Osama’s martyrdom. Wait for bigger attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP.
These people are geniuses.
Tim Blair – Saturday, May 14, 11 (05:07 am)
It was January this year, and around 10 WikiLeaks staff and volunteers were working from Norfolk, where Julian Assange is confined thanks to his legal travails.
Julian arrived with a copy of this document for everyone in the room, and asked all to sign it there and then, to demonstrate to all present they were trustworthy and decent. Unlike everyone else present – who were largely young activists with little or no professional training – I read the document first …
I refused to sign, and listed several reasons why. At this point, more than one person in the room asked for their copy of the agreement back. This was refused.
Julian then proceeded to spend two hours – shouting – explaining why I must sign the document, or else risk the lives and wellbeing of everyone in the room, and never be trusted again.
This is the guy hailed by global media as a champion of free speech. Ex-Wikileaks associate Daniel Domscheit-Berg:
“WikiLeaks has become what it despises: a repressive organisation, using restrictive contracts to gag its staffers, cultivating intransparency and unaccountability,” Domscheit-Berg said in an email to Reuters.
Domscheit-Berg, who was once one of Assange’s closest associates, said he felt “sorry ... for all those new staffers that had no idea what they were getting into” in working for WikiLeaks.
The cult of Julian is reaching its terminal phase.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (09:42 am)
Ross Gittins prides himself on being an economics commentator. So he should be ashamed to repeat the Gillard Government’s lie that a tax rise in its Budget is a “saving”:
It’s also true that, though Wayne Swan - or more likely, Penny Wong - achieved savings worth $22 billion over four years (with two-thirds of the savings coming from spending cuts and the remainder from the temporary flood levy and cuts in ‘’tax expenditures’’ or concessions), these have been offset by new spending programs worth about $17 billion over four years.
Then there’s this bizarre counter in a column in which Gittins seems overall to be rowing back a bit from his initial eager endorsement of the Budget that admits to a $49.4 billion deficit:
It’s true, however, that the speed with which the budget is expected to return to surplus is owed also to the return of the resources boom. So one critic has written that ‘’the inadequacy of Wayne Swan’s fourth budget has left Australia highly vulnerable to the gathering risks in the global economy, punting everything on our China luck continuing to hold’’.
It’s true that, should China fall in a hole, our return to budget surplus would be greatly delayed. But can you spot the weakness in that argument? If our boom evaporated, the need to get back to surplus ASAP would also evaporate.
Can you spot the weakness in that argument? If our boom evaporated, the need to have a surplus ASAP - as in today- would be absolutely critical in providing us with the money we’d need for another round of stimulus spending or simply to get by.
The spending toughness aspect is easily dismissed. By Appendix B in Swan’s own Budget Overview. The $22bn to be cut over four years to 2014-15 follows a line detailing $19bn of planned spending....
The best guide to the revenue side is the 2008 budget, Swan’s first…
It shows that revenue has taken a big hit from the rosy expectations of pre-GFC 2008. Now revenue is expected to be only $342bn against 2008’s forecast of $367bn.
And spending is now forecast to be $362bn, much higher than the 2008 projection.
Simply put, the reason we are heading for a $23bn deficit next year rather than the 2008 projection of a $19bn surplus is half revenue shortfall and half spending blowout....
The true story of what has happened is that the Rudd-Gillard governments presided over a massive two-year increase in spending not seen since the Whitlam years in the mid-1970s.
Yes, much of that was deliberate Keynesian pump priming (during the GFC). But crucially, and dammingly, it wasn’t withdrawn when the crisis and necessity passed.
Over the two years 2008-09 and 2009-10, real spending leapt more than 17 per cent. Incredibly, it rose a further 0.7 per cent in 2010-11. It will rise again in the coming year and is finally forecast to ease all of 0.1 per cent in 2012-13—there’s that fiscal manana again.
The fiscal frugality that Swan trumpets, the greatest fiscal consolidation in a lifetime, will leave spending in 2014-15 a staggering 23 per cent higher in real terms than the level he inherited from Costello.
As the Prime Minister yesterday hit the road trying to sell her Government’s first Budget to the people, a Galaxy poll shows barely one in four voters believe the package will be good for Australia’s economy.
The result was better under Kevin Rudd’s leadership last year, when 43 per cent of voters considered his Government’s 2010 Budget good for the economy. Now, only 28 per cent have backed the Wayne Swan Budget that focused on a welfare overhaul and getting Australians back to work.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (08:25 am)
Remember when Labor had a leader with the authority to shoot an ad like this?
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (08:04 am)
If you are a Labor voter anywhere in Australia, it is a joyless pursuit. Slaughtered in NSW, awaiting slaughter in South Australia, in disarray in Tasmania, on the edge in Queensland and already having lost in Western Australia and Victoria. The position is bleak and dismal. Looking federally for some uplifting news is a forlorn hope.
The Gillard government is falling further behind and the prospects of recovery are fading....
There is ... a phenomenon in western Sydney that has been building for years, to Labor’s detriment. Sydney’s radio ratings came out this week and they showed two men, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley, dominate the airwaves from 5am to midday.
They crush all rivals and .... one thing in common: for seven hours, five days a week, they bucket the Gillard government. It is as unrelenting as it is effective.
The government has of course supplied plenty of ammunition: pink batts, green loans, boats and refugees, carbon tax, etc. The problem for Labor is that Jones and Hadley use that ammunition and unerringly hit their targets. The most dangerous aspect of this is that this duo knows how to speak to those people Labor forgot. Tradies, pensioners and, well, ordinary voters who worry about the cost of living, about violence in their neighbourhoods, about Muslim immigration to their suburbs.
Labor doesn’t seem to know how to reach them any more; Jones and Hadley do.
Add that to a confident long-striding Abbott and you can see those extra seats falling at the next election, whenever it comes.
Please, Prime Minister, do some listening and do it quickly. You will soon have too many of the voters I have listed above who will have stopped listening to you for good.
One thing in Richardson’s analysis is not quite right. He should have focussed far more on the fact that the “ammunition” used by Jones and Hadley is in itself a terrible indictment of Labor mismanagement and waste. Labor’s problem isn’t merely in how it sells itself, but in what it actually does. If the Government were great, Jones would be no real danger.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (07:30 am)
It really is pink batts, all over again:
COMPANIES being paid $350 a time to install set-top boxes for pensioners are offering sub-contractors the work for as little as $84.
Tender documents show the Government is making lavish incentive payments for quick installations under the controversial scheme to give all pensioners access to digital television. But Victorian-based Skybridge, one of two companies which have so far won the bulk of the installation work, has offered businesses in western NSW just $84.
The company is linked to another operation set up under a similar name in 2009 to install home insulation under the Government’s bungled pink batts scheme.
(Thanks to readers Rhiannon, Thor1776 and others.)
The US, faced with the same problem, simply mailed out $40 vouchers to the poor and left the rest up to them. That way was not just cheaper, but they then avoided owning the responsibility for stuff-ups like these:
Rural Victorian pensioners Cyril and Lorraine Noisette thought the Gillard government’s controversial free set-top box scheme would give them a helping hand to make the switch from analog to digital television .
But the box installed in January by government contractors under the Household Assistance Scheme failed within 10 days and stopped working in a few weeks.
Repeated calls to the hotline and emails to the company that installed the set-top box—which was based in Queensland—got them nowhere, so they bought a new television and paid someone else to fix the box themselves.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (07:01 am)
SIXTY Minutes star reporter Liam Bartlett and his crew have left Christmas Island after a calamitous 48 hours that sparked a police investigation and ended in the current affairs flagship’s prized drone spy camera crashing offshore from the same cliffs where 50 asylum-seekers died last December.
There were claims of tabloid TV tricks after guards claimed a baby had been wire-tapped by the program and Bartlett conceded that he did not declare his profession while trying to get into the island’s main detention centre.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (06:47 am)
I SWEAR it’s true. I tried to stick up for the Gillard Government on radio this week - and was almost run off the road.
Boy, are people angry. No talkback host on commercial radio this week would have missed it.
It was as clear as the fury against the latest and terminal symbol of this Government’s waste—the free set-top boxes for pensioners.
It’s an anger Tony Abbott pounced on on Thursday in the most powerful Budget reply I’ve heard from an Opposition leader, appealing to “the forgotten families” now in revolt over having their money given to shysters and the undeserving.
The immediate cause of the anger this week was the Budget, which continued a freeze on the indexation of income thresholds for various family benefits to $150,000, suggesting such families were too rich to help.
They will also pay the full $750 flood levy on the “rich” and then the carbon dioxide tax.
So why the anger? Is it really - as ABC callers suggested - proof we’d got greedy? No longer wanted to pay for hospitals and libraries?
And here’s where I made my mistake.
You see, any conservative worried by the blowout in the Budget deficit, now an amazing $50 billion, should be grateful for one thing. At least the Government was talking of cutting back on the expensive culture of entitlement that’s killing our will to work hard.
Tiny gestures in the Budget - like funding a pilot program to make teen mums on benefits go back to school within six months, or asking the long-term unemployed to do a bit more work for the dole - were at least a start in an urgent job.
Consider. There are 22 million Australians, of whom 14 million are of working age, between 15 and 64. These are the people we expect to provide for those too young and many of those too old to work. But of these potential workers many are mothers and students.
Then there are those paid for not working, at least not full-time, through accident, lone parenthood, disability or laziness. These include 800,000 on disability pensions, 580,000 on the dole, 90,000 on the Youth Allowance and 450,000 on parenting payments.
That’s almost one in seven people of working age on some benefit.
Worse, it’s one claimant for every four of Australia’s eight million full-time workers, who must also pay for old age pensioners and middle-class welfare.
Wondered why so much of your pay vanishes in taxes?
So I’d have hoped more people would have defended the Government, at least from those who said it had gone too far.
If anything, complain it had not gone far enough.
Take its bizarre attempt to lure more people off disability pensions by letting them work up to 30 hours a week.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (06:45 am)
A THOUSAND glasses would have smashed in Australia on Thursday, but only one made every television news bulletin.
What made this glass famous is that it had been in the hand of Treasurer Wayne Swan.
The poor man. The horror on his face as he heard that dreaded tinkling told the full catastrophe.
He knew, he knew. A meaningless accident had just become the meaning of his troubled Budget, so much do visuals now drive reporting. Or, perhaps, so much can the right visual stick to a truth.
Swan has been around long enough to realise instantly that none of his spin about the Budget could now compete with the picture of the ABC radio desk in front of him littered with broken glass and fast-spreading pool of water, soaking his notes.
Within 10 minutes the news was all over Twitter. Within an hour, it was on YouTube.
And with it came the commentary: nervous Treasurer cracks under pressure. The economy in this man’s shaky hands. Going to pieces under Labor.
It’s easy to call this unfair. In one way, Swan was plain unlucky rather than trembly or clumsy. The glass seemed to fall no distance at all before breaking.
Swan’s staff said his sleeve caught it after he put it down. Perhaps cold water had simply been splashed into a glass that was dishwater-hot.
Yet it seemed to viewers as if the glass was crushed in his nervous grip, as he frantically tried to think of the answer to the interviewer’s question: When did a Labor treasurer last deliver a surplus?
Indeed, Swan was under pressure. He didn’t know. Even had he given the answer, that not in 22 years had Labor had a surplus, he’d have seemed in a long line of spendthrifts.
And that’s why the breaking of the glass hurt. Accidentally, it did put a truth into pictures.
That’s how such pictures stick.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (06:28 am)
Back we go to a population increase that would be the equivalent of adding another Canberra every year, or another Adelaide every three years:
But a budget politically framed around Julia Gillard’s rejection of Kevin Rudd’s “big Australia” also quietly announced Australia’s biggest permanent immigration intake.
It wasn’t in Swan’s budget speech. But Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced a “measured” 11 per cent increase in the 2011-12 permanent migration program to 185,000 places. This came on top of the pre-budget lift of 4000 extra humanitarian places in his Malaysian boatpeople deal. And it excludes temporary worker categories such as 457 visas, which Bowen this week promised to deliver more quickly to labour-strapped mega-mining projects.
Rudd Labor began promising an even bigger permanent settler intake, jacking up the Howard government’s program by 30 per cent to 190,000 as mining boom mark I was still in full swing. But then immigration minister Chris Evans cut this 2008-09 number twice within three months to 168,700 when the financial crisis hit. And, straight after knocking off Rudd, Gillard quickly buried the Treasury’s long-term budget projections, rejecting the idea of a population “hurtling” towards 36 million by 2050....
The demand-driven temporary inflows such as 457 visas pushed the ABS measure of net overseas immigration to 315,700 in 2008, supporting a 467,300 overall population gain.
The argument is that we need many more skilled workers than we have here to exploit the boom in Western Australia. But why, then, are we seeing the poor suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne - on the other side of the continent - being squeezed full of newcomers instead?
And if the strategy really is to add to our population to make us all better off, why did we last week get this report from the Government:
But the nation’s first population strategy, released by the government yesterday, won praise from low-population advocate Bob Carr for abandoning a “big Australia” approach…
Launched yesterday by Sustainable Population Minister Tony Burke, the strategy deliberately abstains from setting an overall population target, focusing more on community-by-community responses…
“Those communities suffering from congestion and where infrastructure hasn’t kept up have a perfect right to say ‘Growth for its own sake won’t work in our part of Australia’,” Mr Burke said at the launch on the Gold Coast.
Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson is not happy:
The Government’s population strategy represents a missed opportunity to put Australia’s population on a sustainable basis and curb our rapid population growth.
The failure to set targets means we are still on our way to Big Australia, with net overseas migration tracking at 180,000 per annum, the number Treasury says will see Australia’s population rise to 36 million by 2050.
I remain concerned that the present rate of population growth – a 60% increase in our population over the next 40 years – will put upward pressure on the cost of housing, electricity, water, food, council rates, and upward pressure on interest rates....
The government has promised to cut carbon emissions by 60% over the next 40 years. How are we supposed to cut emissions by 60% if our population is rising by 60% at the same time? It’s pretty hard to reduce your carbon footprint when your keep adding more feet....
I continue to be convinced that another 13 million people will not give us a richer country, it will spread our mineral wealth more thinly and give us a poorer one.
(Thomson’s full response to appear later on his blog.)
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (06:07 am)
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott actually gets the very response he wanted:
JULIA Gillard and Bob Brown have defied Tony Abbott’s challenge to call an election once the details of the carbon tax have been finalised, declaring the parliament will go full term ...
Senator Brown declared the Greens would support the government for the full electoral term, due to expire in 2013.
“The message to Tony Abbott is ‘there will be no election’. You might wish for it; you won’t get it . . . to want is not to get; you have to achieve it,” Senator Brown said.
Abbott actually knows that the worse it gets for this Government, the less likely the Greens and independents are to drop their support for it and go to a new election. The independents would almost certainly lose their seats and and the Greens would lose their shared balance of power in the House of Representatives.
So Abbott’s demand for a fresh election wasn’t issued because he expects one, but because he wanted to make the Govenment seem illegitimate, desperate and reliant on the Greens for its very survival. And along comes Bob Brown to illustrate that last point precisely:
(Abbott) seized on Senator Brown’s declaration that there would not be an early election. “Well, I think we found out today when Senator Brown took it upon himself to say there will be no early election. I think we found out today who is really running the country.”
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, May 14, 11 (05:57 am)
A small illustration of how we’d be forced to pay more for everything if we imposed carbon dioxide tax at home, too:
QANTAS will be forced to lift international airfares to Europe from next January after being slapped with a penalty by the European Union because Australia does not have a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
Tim Blair updates his long list of opponents of Julia Gillard’s tax. It’s a killer coalition.