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Why can't everyone condemn Hamas?

Following Hamas' atrocities in Israel, the media are awash with commentary, so I will keep my comments short. I am shocked by the willin...

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Time to scrap RET

Today's article in The Australian by Maurice Newman "The ever-receding mirage of cheap renewables just faded from view" provides a sobering review of the consequences of ideological climate action. The consequences of decisions made when Climate Change was the "greatest moral challenge of our time".

The results of policies enacted just a few years ago are having some inconvenient consequences. In Europe and Worldwide the hysteria that led to aggressive retirement of fossil fuels in favour of renewables has gone into reverse with some 1500 coal fired plants planned or under construction today.

For Australia there is a stark reality; higher energy costs and blackouts. South Australia the champion and trailblazer of renewables has had a rude awakening. Without sufficient base-load power there will be blackouts. Even if the inter-connector could magically provide back up base-load power whenever it was required, the cost would always be high. Suppliers would always charge a premium giving priorty to their long term contracts, and only surplus energy would be made available to the 'spot' market. Given the intermittent nature of renewables this rise in costs was predictable and inevitable. Perhaps battery storage will, over time, help to address this, but it is very much at an experimental stage, while South Australia needs real solutions today.

Australia was once the envy of the world, with abundant cheap energy to power its industry and even to export. Today with its national Renewable Energy Target (RET) as well as even more ambitious, ie fool hardy, state government targets, this has all changed. The RET has distorted our energy markets. It is no longer economic to maintain or invest in new fossil fuel generation if no one is willing to commit to long term supply contracts. Our aging coal fired plants are being phased out, decreasing base-load capacity and increasing prices. The impact is on all industry through higher costs and uncertainty of supply. All this for no measurable reduction in global CO2 emissions. Australia is crippling its economy for symbolism.

It is time the government bit the bullet and scrapped the national RET and let the markets operate to provide the abundant low cost energy that gave Australia its kick-start in the industrial era.

Friday 24 March 2017

Well done Malcolm!

Given the many times I have criticized our PM in my posts, I must take the opportunity to praise him when it is appropriate to do so. So a hearty "Well done Malcolm!" for taking up the fight to change 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Yes, I know, it also happens to be expedient for him. It displays his liberal credentials but is not likely to pass. I guess that is true but it would be uncharitable to look for the negatives in a decision that has not been easy.

He knew any change to 18C would draw both personal and political criticism from not only those in the opposition parties, but from many vocal ethnic minority groups, the media and even members of his on party. That sounds like lose-lose proposition. Indeed his predecessor lost credibility by his unwillingness to pursue the issue.

Maybe, indeed more likely than not,  given the current numbers in the senate and even the house of representatives, the critical changes to remove the words "insult, humiliate or offend" will not be passed by parliament.

But for such fundamental questions of principle it does not matter. On the contrary, it provides an opportunity to contrast the differences between the parties, and the cross benchers. Where should a society draw the line between Freedom of speech and the potential for abuse of such a freedom against minorities? Do we want an open society where the laws encourage open debate of all issues and allow social interactions to counter any extreme elements? Or do we want to impose artificial constraints on such freedoms and try to control the very words that citizens can utter ?
It comes down to the fundamental issue of how our society should operate. That is certainly worthy of a debate and much more important than how the economic pie is divided. By taking this stand Malcolm has shown he has the guts to stand up and fight even if he is likely to lose. I for one appreciate his willingness to fight for the type of society I would like. Well done Malcolm!

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Malcolm must get back to basics

Some time before the last election I posted some gratuitous advice to Malcolm Turnbull (Malcolm must cut through). Advice on how he could cut through and score against his vulnerable yet emboldened opposition. Alas, it did not happen.

Looking back we can see that his tenure has been a steady decline in personal and party popularity, increasing back bench unrest and LNP supporters heading for the door. Many heretofore ardent advocates of the Turnbull 'brand' are wavering, while others have written him off. It is a dismal picture.

With a full two years to the next election I believe it is premature to write off the LNP, even with Malcolm Turnbull as its leader.

Without doubt however some things must change. In its current form it is drifting towards annihilation. Labor's return to office with its current policies would be a disaster for Australia, with increasing debt, lower living standards and further social disruption.

So what can Turnbull and his supporters do about it? How could they address this decline?

Back to basics

It should not be necessary, but given recent ambiguity/wavering on some policy issues, I believe all MPs would do well to familiarize themselves with the LNP's core principles as stated on their website.

"We Believe:
In the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative
In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor's corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.
In those most basic freedoms of parliamentary democracy - the freedom of thought, worship, speech and association. 
In a just and humane society in which the importance of the family and the role of law and justice is maintained. 
In equal opportunity for all Australians; and the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice. 
That, wherever possible, government should not compete with an efficient private sector; and that businesses and individuals - not government - are the true creators of wealth and employment. 
In preserving Australia's natural beauty and the environment for future generations. 
That our nation has a constructive role to play in maintaining world peace and democracy through alliance with other free nations. 
In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise"
From Liberal Party website 
These are fine principles and should be ingrained in the soul of each LNP MP. They can be help to guide them out of many a political quagmire.

Of course the most effective messaging is when there is a contrast. So the principles should be stated and compared to those of the opposition.For example; -
  • The LNP stand for equality of opportunity for all. The ALP are forever raising taxes and re-distributing the hard earned income of even battlers to their government funded causes.
  • The LNP believe in equality of opportunity but accept that individual effort should be rewarded. The ALP is always "taxing the 'rich' and thereby removing the incentive that is required to generate wealth in the economy as a whole.
  • The LNP believes in free enterprise, that it is the private sector un-shackled from government interference that creates wealth. The ALP is always looking to government enterprises and government involvement. 

In the end there are two core messages that need to be ingrained in the electorate; - 

1. The LNP is the party of freedom for the individual to realise their potential 
2. The LNP are better economic managers because they believe in small government and look to private sector to generate wealth.

Most importantly there needs to be consistency; All policies must be aligned with these core messages, so the parliamentary party, LNP supporters and the electorate as a whole understand what the LNP stands for.

Unfortunately this has not been the case in recent times, with the LNP's tendency to squib harder issues. Look at 18 C for a blatant example.

If all policies were clearly and unambigously consistent with the LNP's principles, the flow of supporters away from the party would be stemmed and who knows, many may return to the fold.

Wednesday 1 March 2017


Some of you may have noticed I have been off my game, not having posted much this year at all. I confess to having been distracted by "my day job". While a blog is a great way to "let off steam" and feel one is contributing in some small measure to our social discourse, it does take some time.

Time has not been with me for a while, but I live in hope.