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I told you there would be nothing but “confusion and delay”

Labor’s NBN is damned by the latest review:

“By contrast, with NBN Mark I, the public policy process for developing NBN Mark II was rushed, chaotic and inadequate,” it says.

The plan got just 11 weeks’ consideration and “there is no evidence that a full range of options was seriously considered”.

“There was no business case or any cost-benefit analysis, or independent studies of the policy undertaken, with no clear operating instructions provided to this completely new government business enterprise, within a legislative and regulatory framework still undefined, and without any consultation with the wider community,” the report says.

In other findings, the audit says full cabinet did not consider the policy until very early on the April 2009 morning it was announced, and its role was to “rubber-stamp” a decision by the strategic priorities and budget committee of ­cabinet.

It also revealed that public servants had “difficulty” in having their “voice” heard on many of the most important policy matters related to Labor’s NBN policy, often finding their advice was ignored or that they were excluded from ­contributing.

click for source

Ah How I remember the many minions of the left were singing the praises of the NBN MK2, the problem for them was/is that what they were really praising was the idea and the dream of super-fast internet even though the reality had turned into a nightmare of confusion and delay that would vex any engine.

Cheers Comrades

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Dead, deceased, it is no more, it has shuffled off its mortal coil, the Carbon tax has fucking snuffed it, or death of a vile impost on our lives.

The tragedy of the Carbon tax/ETS is not in its passing but that it ever existed in the first place because it was always based on a false premise, namely that it was ever going to make the slightest bit of difference to the global climate and so many leaders, on both sides of politics have been destroyed by it.  It took out Rudd, Turnbull and Gillard in turn and it also played its part in taking out the resurrected Rudd as well. There has been more bullshit produced to promote the various incarnations of this toxic scheme than our national herd. And for what? All that it ever gave us was a wildly expensive token gesture and a rather nasty piece of socialist wealth redistribution which in layman’s language means it was a totally useless money churn.

Even if you believe the AGW proposition there is no reason to believe in the often chanted mantra that the best way to address it is through a “market mechanism” because there is absolutely no reason to believe that such a mechanism  can ever produce the desired outcome without some nasty unforeseen consequences, of which the massive spike in energy costs is a rather good example, and before anyone says “its the gold plating of the poles and wires” that caused the majority  of those price rises  I’m going to say that the “gold plating” is just another example of the same thinking that the poor long suffering consumers are an eternal milch cow that can be taken for granted by planers and ideologues just as they take for granted the idea that costs for essential commodities can rise endlessly  and no one will suffer or object.

Suffer and object we have and now the vile impost on every aspect of our lives has be dispatched to the dustbin of history and any claims that it will bring down Abbott in its passing are utterly ridiculous. The trend in technology now  is very much focused on energy being used as efficiently as possible and for that I do think that, to some extent,  we can  thank the panic merchants of the Green Religion but just as we can take from the Christian religion useful notions of community and what makes a good society without taking on the supernatural Mumbo Jumbo of that faith. So to we can take the good things that have come from the Green religion, like seeing our planet and its biosphere as a whole and complexly interconnected entity of which we are just a small part, but we can let go of its millenarian prognostications and dire predictions of doom  because no matter what life and the earth itself is far more resilient and adaptive than the doom merchants of the Green religion are willing to admit

Cheers Comrades

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The curse of interesting times

The Chinese curse is “may you live in interesting times” and that certainly seems to be the case at present since the changes in the Senate have brought the Palmer party into play. They certainly have shown themselves to be totally out of their depth and it must be vexatious to be obliged to deal with them to get important legislation through the upper house.  They have done a good job of proving that they are just as loopy as the Greens with the debacle of their attempts to amend the Carbon tax to add punitive measures against any businesses that fails to pass on the savings to their customers shows that they are in their own way greener than the loopy Greens.

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Even so its better than having the Labor/Greens holding the senate in their hot little hands, still not a great option but definitely better than what went before  but am I the only one who is wishing that Clive would succumb to the negative consequences of his obesity?   Because I can’t decide if he is more objectionable in the media saturation that he has achieved that the whining sanctimony that we get from Christine  Milne and Sarah Hanson Young?

Dreaming of a little boredom Comrades

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The desire to reform welfare could become Tony Abbotts’ “Gimpchoices”

destiny-wheelchair

While i don’t want to dismiss the angst I see in the commentary on the Welfare review lets keep a couple of things in perspective here, firstly no matter how much the government may want to do any of the things that make up the sum of all of the fears expressed here they do not have the senate and those with the balance of power there are not going to be able to pass the  enabling legislation  to change very much of the status quo.

Secondly one thing that the review is right about is that the current welfare  system is very complicated and confusing both for those who now rely on it for their sustenance and for those who have to administer it.  Further to that there is the popular myth that getting on to the DSP is in any sense easy or that it is subject to a great deal of fraud. Frankly if this government were to find savings with better administration and simpler process without hurting any of the vulnerable I don’t think anyone would object. Given   the senate we have now I do expect some changes in the way that the department is run are very likely  to eventuate rather than this government doing to the disabled what Gillard did to single mothers .

On the matter of encouraging work, well its fine in principle but I find it difficult to believe that there is even enough unpaid volunteer work to viably engage  very many of the disabled especially when you consider the extra support that many of the disabled would need to be able to work at all. So if you are starting form a purely economic point of view it may well be that the cost of forcing or coercing  the “unwilling” disabled to “work” is far greater than the value of the work that they may be able to do. Further to this there has been no consideration of the contributions that so many disabled people make to their families and communities. Things like the child care and good old domestic duties that they do for their families and the contributions that they already make to their communities  with their involvement in a great deal of volunteering. Of course much of this is totally invisible to the general public who sadly think that  shows like “Housos ” is reality TV rather than greatly exaggerated satire. There certainly has to have  been  some fraud because  no system of welfare  can be immune to it. But there are enough checks and balances that make it less common than some would have us believe.

Taking that all on board I can’t help but think that this whole thing is a very big ambit claim because the government must know that they will not get the sort of changes that are mooted here through the senate so I think that their end game here  has to be to seek simpler and less expensive ways to administer the welfare system  while minimizing the possibility of having to run a gauntlet angry   starving cripples on the way to the next election,  because if they don’t tread lightly here  then the desire to reform welfare could become Tony Abbotts’  “Gimpchoices”  that sees their much needed tenure in the lodge cut short .

Cheers Comrades

Even a gimpy dog can have its day

Even a gimpy dog can have its day

Stunts that don’t work hurt the Gay community

During the course of the last government we saw the rather unedifying spectacle of the Labor party trying very hard to distract attention from its failings by letting the polity be distracted by the Greens long held desire to change the marriage act. With all kinds of silliness we saw MPs asked to consult with their constituents about their feelings on the subject we saw several doomed to fail private members bills presented to the parliament and we saw the Canberra town council try to create same sex marriage in their jurisdiction even though they knew that their efforts would be quickly torn down by the high court. So it should surprise no one that the high court has  in fact ruled that the whole edifice created by the Canberra Town council is null and void.

click for source

click for source

 The problem with political stunt flying is that those sort of aircraft are bound to come back to earth with a very unpleasant crash and sadly people get hurt. Some how I think that the sad Gay couples pictured in the Canberra Times’ picture gallery will direct all of their angst at the wrong players in this bit of legal theater.  They will undoubtedly blame the current government instead of both the Labor party and the Greens who gave them such false hope that there is any substantive mood for change of the Marriage act in the Australian polity. At best its a fringe issue a long way down the political agenda  of most people. The general public are more than OK with homosexuality per se I would venture that the reforms to various acts to remove discrimination against same couples made by Labor under Rudd is generally endorsed  and that within the greater Australian  community* being Gay is of no more consequence than having a particular hair colour. That is something to give ourselves a collective pat on the back for  but Gay marriage? Forget it, its not going to happen in this country any time soon because there are far more pressing fish to fry than the vanities of that small proportion of the community who bat for the other team.

Cheers Comrades

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*Our Islamic community is a notable dissenter when it comes to social acceptance of homosexuality within our society and that the Koran insists that being Gay is a capital offense.

2014 Budget overview, or considering how much of the egg is any good

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Well I suppose it is incumbent upon me as the author here at a blog that is mostly about  Australian  politics to say something about  last night’s budget. Up front I have to say that I have not read the original document or even watched the speech on the TV. I had other priorities last night. So instead I am going to respond to the summary written by the Guardian with what I think about the specifics enunciated there.

As leaked, it hits around 400,000 high-income earners with a three-year $3.1bn deficit levy and reaps a further $2.2bn by increasing petrol taxes in line with inflation.

The former will undoubtedly upset my more “economically dry” friends but I doubt that they will notice it beyond its existence as a line item  from their accountants, most will not even notice unless they are obsessive about the amount of tax they pay. A rise in the tax on petrol  will undoubtedly be noticed initially but soon forgotten by most people simply because the price of fuel has become so volatile anyway. Up here it jumped by nearly 20 cents a litre at Easter so I think this will soon become part of the economic background noise in our lives.

But the budget-night surprise was that much of the cash raised from cuts to benefits and tax rises is spent on the Coalition’s own priorities rather than on improving the budget bottom line, including a new $20bn medical research fund – to become the biggest in the world within six years – the Direct Action greenhouse emissions reduction fund and about $5bn in new roads funding.

Why that should surprise anyone is beyond me, Even in tough times a government wants to be seen to be capable of economic multitasking. That said who could complain about more money for medical research? Readers will recall that I would personally ditch, in its entirety, the Direct Action climate policy but in the absence of heeding my advice lets hope that there is the sort of secondary benefits from the spending that I have previously postulated, although I do remain sceptical that the scheme will deliver much for the nation.As a confirmed petrol head I welcome improvements to the road network and I also welcome the economic stimulus that the expenditure will bring.

Although the treasurer, Joe Hockey, said the aim of the pain was “budget repair” – a national effort in which Australians “fix the budget together” – he is not promising a surplus in the four years of the forward estimates, with a deficit of $2.8bn forecast for 2017-18: unemployment remains at 6% or higher for the next three, growth is almost unchanged and business investment is weakening.

Lets be thankful for that! I don’t think that I am alone in hoping that we never again see the false hope of a quick return to  surplus trotted out in every one of Wayne Swan’s budgets .

Hockey conceded the government “could have gone harder” in paying down deficits, but said “it would have detracted from growth”.

Well we all know that its a balancing act between the need to pay down debt and not kill the economy in the process.

He denied his budget was the start of an “age of austerity”, saying he was in fact ushering in a new “age of opportunity”.

No surprise in trying to change the way that the budget will be perceived.

But for unemployed people under 30, this “age of opportunity” means waiting six months to get the dole, then receiving a payment only for six months and only if they work for it, and then losing the payment again for the next six months, during which a potential employers may get a wage subsidy.

Well this is a great deal tougher than I expected and I can see some individuals could very well suffer severe hardship under such a regime. On the other hand it will clearly incentivise those in this demographic to both accept any work that they can get and to try harder to please their employers to avoid losing their jobs in the first place. I can’t see how it could work in remote indigenous communities that have bugger all jobs though.

For sick people it means paying $7 for every visit to the doctor and every medical test – $5 of which will be invested in a new “medical research future fund” and $2 will be kept by the doctor or test provider, in part to help them waive the payment in cases of “genuine need”. The co-payment will stop after 10 medical payments for concession holders and children. The co-payment for medicines will also increase by $5.

Which means that those sick with concession cards will mostly still be able to see a doctor for free as they do now but I am less than impressed by the increase in co-payment for prescriptions which will almost double with the $5 increase. No more coffee shop stop for me when I get my drugs then :(

Hockey said the aim of the health changes was to “get the nation to invest in its own healthcare … and for people to accept personal responsibility for their own physical health.”

Most of us do this anyway

For students the new era means paying back a greater proportion of the cost of a degree, and this cost potentially rising as the higher education sector is deregulated – although government loans will be available for a wider range of courses.

I have repeatedly argued that tertiary education  is rather over rated and if it is going to cost those who benefit from it more than they will certainly chose their courses with greater care and a consideration of its benefit to their future career. The important thing to keep in mind though is the generous and universal loans scheme means that greater costs will not restrict anyone from doing the course of their dreams no matter what their background may be.

For single-income families it means losing up to $73 per week a child in family tax benefit B payments once the bread winner earns more than $100,000 (rather than the current $150,000) and losing the payment when the youngest child turns six, rather than 18.

Who could object to cutting this? Anyone on 100K a year does not need this kind of benefit at all.

And government payments including family tax benefit, Medicare rebates and private health insurance rebates will be frozen, as will eligibility thresholds for receiving them – instead of rising in line with inflation – an idea Tony Abbott derided as “class warfare” when it was tentatively tried by the former Labor government.

Likewise a reasonable move.

Many disability pensioners under 35 will be “reassessed” and those with “some work capacity” forced to seek employment.

As I have suggested elsewhere this is a largely symbolic matter and that the vast majority of those DSP recipients who will be re-accessed will in fact found to still be compliant with the eligibility criteria which are pretty hard to meet anyway. As for work well it has to be there and suitable for the disabled and I have my doubts that many in this cohort will be able to find work.

But clearly hesitant to break an election promise that no changes would be made to the pension, the government has delayed paring back aged pensions until after the next federal poll.

What the government takes to the next poll will be judged by the people.

It is then proposing major changes – linking pension increases to inflation rather than average earnings, which will see their buying power decline over time compared with current arrangements, freezing the threshold for assets and income a pensioner can hold even though their value will rise over time, reducing the amount a pensioner can earn from their assets.

It seems to me that this is a reasonable change that brings the aged pension into line with the indexation of other government benefits. As for changes to the assets valuation well I’m undecided on that one.

The pension age will rise to 70 by 2035, but addressing criticism that older people often find it hard to get a job the government is offering a new wage subsidy to employers taking on a worker over 50 who has been unemployed for more than six months.

The subsidy will undoubtedly be welcomed  by both small business and older job seekers and is to may mind far more significant than a raising of the pension age in twenty years time.

As I predicted in my last post this budget is not the horror that the pundits were suggesting it would be. Its certainly not perfect in every aspect and only time will tell if the assumptions and expectations that are at its heart will be correct. However one thing we can be sure of is that it has to be better than any of the flights of fantasy delivered by Wayne Swan that were inevitably entirely made of tat hope and bullshit. All big picture instruments like the federal budget are going to be like the curates egg “good in parts” and at this one will be no exception there certainly are some parts that are a bit off smelling but on the whole its seems to be quite reasonable given the mess that we inherited from Labor.

Cheers Comrades

Boiled Egg

Pre-budget ennui

 

           http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxPbu5LtXo4

Hands up all of those who have been utterly underwhelmed by the lead up to to tonight’s Budget? Have you tired of both the government’s “softening up ” process where we are given strong hints of the most extreme measures that the LNP  “drys” have wet dreams about along with the Labor party joining in with their own scare campaign and pathetic warbling about “broken promises”. Now will the rest of the audience who are familiar with this dance join me for a collective rolling of the eyes along with a very audible collective sigh because we have all seen this media dance so many times before.  Every year we are treated to the same bullshit from both sides of politics. the same overstatement with the same expectation that on Wednesday morning we will all breathe a sigh of relief that the budget “could have been worse” and an overall impression that its not so bad.

Personally I think that playing any sort of speculative game about what is or is not in the budget plays right into the hands of the Party propagandists.

Frankly this sums up how I feel about the whole thing:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm4_EhYeoYs

When we have seen the budget and we know what is ACTUALLY in it then I may get a little bit more interested in what the government is ACTUALLY going to do until then I’ll leave the tail chasing  speculation to lesser mortals.

Cheers Comrades

Yep I managed to get another tweet up on QandA last night much to the chagrin of my biggest fan

Marcia Langton,being oppressed or is she is not a very nice person?

Marcia Langton’s objections to the repeal of 18c in today’s Oz where she said:

“As a victim of frequent rac­ism, I have tried to think of racist behaviour that would not be exempted by the proposed repeal bill and cannot think of one,’’ Professor Langton says.

“None of the requirements of good faith, accuracy, genuine, reasonable, public interest are provided for in the exemptions, and I have concluded that the repeal bill, if it were passed, would provide me — and other victims of racism — with no protection at all from low-level racist abuse, or abuse that a ‘reasonable, ordinary Australian’ would not deem to be intimidatory, in the media, in public, on social media, in the workplace, in educational institutions, or other public institutions.”

Professor Langton says the repeal bill would encourage racists to be more emboldened in public and to use subtle forms of intimidation and aggression, “which I know from personal experience can be just as dangerous and distressing as overt forms”.

She says that, amid increasing racial attacks on public transport, the passage of the bill would ­expose victims to further attacks.

“The reluctance of most victims to make formal complaints or to contact police compounds this problem of their vulnerability to increased attacks by those emboldened to behave in even more offensive and aggressive ways on public transport and in public places,” she says.

Professor Langton goes further, arguing that the bill would undermine the success of multiculturalism and reconciliation in the community and lead to more events such as the race riots in the southern Sydney suburb of Cronulla in 2005.

And she warns: “The youth sui­cides that result from cyber bullying may well increase, and so too would internet bullying among school students.’’

Source

 Thinking back to her last appearance on QandA  where she (and the ABC) had to apologise for her outburst against Andrew Bolt   made me wonder just how a woman so blighted with racism managed to get herself into a safe and secure academic position and how she came to be consulted  so often by governments on matters indigenous. I also can’t help wondering if she might be mistaking reactions to her antagonistic, confrontational and abrasive personal style of public discourse as racism when its her total lack of respect and  generosity to all of her interlocutors that generates and equally terse response to her whenever she discusses the issues with others.  Strangely enough in this country where we have manged to do tolerance and “multiculturalism” pretty well  its antagonistic people like Langton  who try so hard to grandstand about “racism” that are a  problem, at least as significant as those very few individuals who are actually racist, because their whole ego and self image are totally tied up with the notion of ” being oppressed” that they want to magnify and exaggerate the whole issue of ” race” enough to justify their own bigotry .

We have a country that does diversity, equality and tolerance pretty well and long may that be so but we won’t do it any better if people go out of their way to find offense when and where no offense was intended, we can and I hope will, continue to do better to promote inclusion and acceptance of diversity as a nation but the strictures of blame and well nurtured resentment over long past events will not help anyone.

Cheers Comrades

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