Labor’s commitment to carbon pricing

There had been some speculation in the press as to whether Labor would maintain its commitment to carbon pricing in the face of LNP plans to remove it.

Albanese has declared that they will.

But please note, Albanese made this declaration before a shadow cabinet meeting at which Opposition strategy was to be discussed. After the Meeting Shorten confirmed the position. It seems they will seek to implement the position they took to the election through amendments to Abbott’s legislation. They propose moving directly from the initial fixed price, moving directly to an ETS with international trading facility.

Plibersek and Shorten_300I’m not sure when Barrie Cassidy wrote his piece: it appears to predate the decision. Cassidy manages to put a leadership spin on the issue in terms of what would happen after losing the next election where he saw Shorten as vulnerable to a challenge from Plibersek if he wimped out on carbon pricing. My first reaction was to groan inwardly. Couldn’t we discuss any policy without framing it in a ‘leadershit’ context? Nevertheless Cassidy does make the interesting point that the left now essentially controls the leadership. I think the idea is that party membership is to the left, and Shorten only won because of a once off defection of some of the left in caucus to Shorten, which he thinks unlikely to happen again. Continue reading Labor’s commitment to carbon pricing

His Honour v Herr Kommandant

Last week Qld premier Campbell Newman told the state’s legal fraternity to “come out of your ivory towers” and realise the only reason the government introduced a raft of tough new laws because the “system was failing”.

He said members of the legal industry who had publicly questioned the legislation and queried whether the government was blurring the lines between the judiciary and the executive were out of touch.

Last year 400 people committed offences while out on bail in Queensland, Mr Newman said, adding that Phillip Graeme Abell was out on bail when he killed Gold Coast policeman Damian Leeding.

“They [the legal fraternity] are living literally in an ivory tower,” Mr Newman said.

“They go home at night to their comfortable, well-appointed homes, they talk amongst themselves, they socialise together, they don’t understand what my team and I understand, and that is Queenslanders have had enough.”

On the separation of powers

Mr Newman said he believed it to be “more of an American thing, I should say”, but said he understood parliament to be “supreme” because it was “the manifestation of the will of the people”.

But

“It would be absolutely inappropriate for us to interfere in the workings of a specific court or case. That is where the separation of powers comes in. I don’t tell judges what to do, neither does the Attorney-General, nor do we now.

“What we are saying is, the community says enough is enough, they are not being protected, we are saying, here is a new set of laws to try and protect Queenslanders.

“If Queenslanders don’t like it, they’ll vote us out.”

Now Queensland Supreme Court judge Justice George Fryberg questioned whether he should hear a submission from the Director of Public Prosecutions asking the Supreme Court to review the decision to grant bail to 25-year-old alleged Bandidos member Jarrod Kevin Anthony Brown who police allege was one of the Bandidos involved in a public bikie brawl on the Gold Coast last month. Continue reading His Honour v Herr Kommandant

Distractions…

Andrew Wilson queries why nobody writing or commenting on this blog has raised the issue of the really medieval legislation recently passed in Queensland. One reason is that Mark and I have both had certain distractions which will continue for a little while.

de-clutter_mind_map-copy1_300One is the great decluttering project, wherein Mark is consolidating 20 years worth of collected stuff. In simple terms he’s vacating his digs at New Farm at the end of the month and moving back to join us on a temporary basis, which will probably last months rather than weeks. So there has been massive decluttering at his place and ours together with some recluttering of our place.

This is coinciding with the end of university semester in which Mark has a fairly heavy teaching load. The other day, surveying his study, his computer was open revealing that he was in the process of marking 189 assignments. That’s over 60 hours work for one subject!

Earlier tonight after we staggered down the stairs with some book shelves he agreed he didn’t have the head space for blogging right now. Perhaps next week.

I’m fairly busy right now, but my den is being cleaned up for the first time in decades plus the shed has had to be reorganised to accommodate in the first instance about 20 boxes of books. Furniture is being relocated all over the house.

Next Monday my wife and I are flying to Sydney for the wedding of her nephew. A quick trip but it wipes out two days.

So I too have a few distractions. I may be able to squeeze out a bit of writing, but not as much as I’d like.

For those who came in late, I have the privilege of being Mark’s father. And for those who are curious, he’s been calling me “Brian” since he was four years old. One day he just decided that he was too old for this “dad” stuff. I have a policy of avoiding unnecessary arguments, so that’s the way it’s been!

Quicklink: Roger Jones on Bolt on Bandt

NSW fires_250Adam Bandt recently wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian suggesting a link between the NSW fires and climate change, then suggesting that the Abbott Government’s action, or lack of it, on climate change has real implications for loss of life. This incurred the displeasure of one Andrew Bolt who, inter alia, quotes or rather misquotes Roger Jones.

Roger takes a look at these doings at his blog Understanding Climate Risk.

It turns out Bolt is the one who is wrong, wrong, wrong. Oh, and a disgrace, but we already knew that.

Update: Roger Jones has two more posts up:

Fire and climate change: don’t expect a smooth ride

Backburning

Abbott government watch

Parliament house_280A few days ago Jenny Macklin put out a press release headlined “Abbott Government Dumps Disability Care Roll Out”, implying that the new Coalition Government has no intention to fully roll out the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) across the country. Google took me to a page where presumably the press release once existed, but has now been taken down.

Dr George Taleporos worries that both sides of politics may be using the NDIS for political point scoring.

Senator Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services has branded Jenny Macklin’s statement as “a lie”. They say they will honour existing agreements negotiated by the previous Government with the states and territories but not necessarily announcements made by Labor during the election period.

Nevertheless there is concern that in the context of budget tightening the LNP may delay or cut the scheme. Taleporos says the economic argument for an NDIS is strong and the evidence that it is an investment in our nation’s future undeniable. I think he is referring here to a Productivity Commission report that found the NDIS will save money in the long run. This sort argument is sometimes lost in short-term budgeting.

Please use this post as a roundtable to identify and discuss any other Abbott government implementation issues.

Image Credit: Michael Dawes (Flickr.com; CC BY-NC 2.0)

Armageddon avoided – this time

We are like a blindfolded man walking towards a cliff, and if we keep walking in that direction, very soon we will fall off.

That’s how Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer described the looming crunch over the debt crisis in the USA on the 7.30 Report last night. The man leading the charge for the Tea Party right of the Republican Party is Ted Cruz:

Cruz_e0e9c710-348f-11e3-83c4-1cff9b481b1b_2013-10-13T190728Z_76766367--500

This article suggests that he knows exactly what he’s doing. Beyond getting rid of Obamacare, he’s destroying the Republican Party as we know it, to be remade in the image of the Tea Party. He also has an eye on running for president in 2016.

On the remake of the Party, most conservative Republicans fear they’ll be done over by the Tea Party come preselection time because it is so well organised, and, I believe, supported by Koch Bros funding.

On the presidency, there is a suggestion that he believes Obama will eventually be blamed for the chaos if the US defaults. There is another suggestion that he really is ignorant of what will happen if to the world if the US defaults.

Overnight our time a deal was concluded, I think essentially to kick the can down the road, as they say, until next February. Meanwhile Citigroup had already liquidated US Treasury bills falling due around the end of this month and reduced its exposure to government bonds expiring through to mid-December. That is, a major American financial institution was getting effectively downgrading what martin Wolf of the Financial Review described as “the world’s most important safe assets.” Defaulting is likely to be “a huge disruption to market liquidity and credit across the world.” Continue reading Armageddon avoided – this time

Abbott heads for the past as Labor contemplates the future

True to his word Abbott has revealed his plans to repeal the carbon ‘tax’ by releasing eight pieces of draft legislation and a consultation paper for comment.

Abbott_4918428-3x2-340x227Abbott claimed that the proposed action would save families an average of $550 per annum. The ABC fact-checked this claim when it was made at the Rooty Hill debate and found the saving to be $134 when compared to the then planned Labor early move to a trading scheme.

The legislation will be effective from 31 July 2014 even if passed later than that date.

Labor and The Greens are standing firm, so Abbott will have to try his luck with the new senate from July 2014. I believe there is a recount in progress in WA but in any case the LNP will only have 33 of the 39 votes it needs to pass the legislation. Since the Palmer United Party will control either three or four of the votes, dealing with them will be inevitable. Palmer wants to scrap the tax, but wants all the tax collected to be repaid. Then Abbott will need two or three of the other floating votes. Since repealing the tax is a high priority it would seem a perfect opportunity for the floaters to go hard.

Meanwhile Labor after Shorten announces his full team on Friday will have ample time to contemplate the future. Jungney said this last night: Continue reading Abbott heads for the past as Labor contemplates the future

Less from the back room, please

The news story of the day yesterday was undoubtedly the selection of the Labor ministry.

Katz was probably right:

Members of the Labor factions conspired with each other to maximise factional outcomes and then complained when they felt themselves personally short-changed.

Shorten, or any other Labor leader, is the victim, not the author, of this process. Because of the process, the Labor leader is forced to give portfolios to individuals he prefers not to have on his front bench.

Clare O’Neil was positive about the leadership election.

But the fruits of allowing members a say in the leadership run deeper than yesterday’s result. The Labor Party is buzzing. Membership has increased. Policy forums have sprung up in every direction. Policy ideas that would never normally see the light of day have been hotly debated. Critically, the ballot has been marked by civility.

This civility fell away a bit with the choice of ministers being done by factional heavies behind closed doors. Anna Burke feels women in particular did not get fair consideration admitting she was bitter and disappointed.

It seems the right did not play its part selecting only three women in its 16 choices. Eight came from the left.

Shorten_5021046-3x2-340x227Returning to Clare O’Neil’s piece, she cites Tanya Plibersek on why Labor lost the election:

As Tanya Plibersek has said, we got nine out of 10 for governing the country, but one out of 10 for governing ourselves.

But to O’Neil Labor won’t regain government and hold it for extended period unless it tackles the task of reform: Continue reading Less from the back room, please

Queensland power generation at the crossroads

Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy tolls the bell for fossil fuel energy producers pretty much on a daily basis. Recently he posted that Energex’ business model was broken, according to its annual report.

To explain the set-up, Energex is the state-owned electricity wholesaler and distributor for South East Queensland. It doesn’t generate power or retail power to the customers. It services 1.3 residences and other customers in an area with a population of 3.1 million:

Energex area_cropped_449

Power is generated by power stations and delivered to Energex through a high-voltage transmission network that is owned and operated by Powerlink Queensland, also a government owned corporation. Go here for brief industry structure. The network that delivers power to residences and other customers is owned and operated by Energex.

In our house we buy power from AGL. I’m not sure they do anything other than send us a bill. They probably outsource their metre reading. Certainly they outsource marketing as became clear when I asked a question of a sales representative.

Ergon Energy, also state-owned, is the equivalent company for the rest of the State. Actually it is a cluster of operating companies with several joint ventures, including SPARQ Solutions Pty Ltd, which provides information and communications technology (ICT) solutions and services to both Ergon and Energex. Ergon owns and operates 33 stand-alone power stations in remote off-grid locations selling directly to customers. The shaded area on this map shows the extent of the grid: Continue reading Queensland power generation at the crossroads

Has Macfarlane gone mad?

There is a bit of a meme around that the MSM are giving the LNP Coalition a free ride in government. On Friday the Australia Financial Review did its bit to buck the trend by asking the above question in an editorial.

cars_8yb33mkx-1374641286_450

When federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane spoke about a “final” assistance package for GM Holden last week, The Australian Financial Review took it as a sign that someone was finally standing up to the car makers’ protection racket. But Mr Macfarlane’s latest comments indicate a more protectionist mind-set. He agreed that Australia “needs” a car industry. He wants to reverse Ford’s decision to cease manufacturing cars in Australia after 2016. He wants an Australian industry to make cars that are driven “all over the world”. And he flags the option of an Australian car industry that is “supported by the government long term”. “I’m going to do everything I can to work with the companies to make sure that car workers’ jobs are protected, so we can have an industry long-term, so that Australia can be proud of its industry base,” he said on Thursday.

Then:

Has this normally sensible minister gone mad? It’s one thing to politically show you are doing everything you reasonably can to keep an industry going. But it’s another to use the language of the mendicants and rent seekers…

The AFR says that putting uncompetitive industries on permanent subsidy mocks Tony Abbott’s vow to make Australia open for business. It says that Joe Hockey and company should stand up to this lunacy.

At stake is whether the Abbott government has the wit and gumption to tackle the serious task of reviving Australia’s stalled productivity growth. Mr Macfarlane should be the first person to recognise this.

Continue reading Has Macfarlane gone mad?

Commentary on IPCC WG1: Part 2

In Part 2 of the round-up of commentary on the IPCC WG1 report I’ve tried to highlight where people have said something new or not emphasised elsewhere. I’ve not attempted to cover the MSM.

That’s it as a round-up. I plan to revisit particular topics later when the IPCC have finished fiddling with the text and layout.

The following image is the temperature projections representing the most optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. Bear in mind that RCP2.6 is probably hopelessly optimistic and at present we are tracking to do worse than RCP8.5. Also what happens is not likely to be as smooth as the graphs the models spit out.

Temperature_cropped_580

Here’s the link to Part 1.

The New Scientist has a special on the IPCC report which appears not to be paywalled at least yet. Among the questions asked is, can we be sure that any big issues have been missed?

Not entirely, is the answer given, but the text really says, yes, we can be sure. Anything that can’t be well-measured, such as the leaking of methane from permafrost, has been set aside. Also impacts with low probability and higher threat. So the report is restricted to the well-understood knowns and thereby conservative.

Science writer Michael Le Page distils a 10-word bottom line: we have to leave most fossil fuels in the ground.

He points to Norway to illustrate the problem. They get nearly 60% of their electricity from renewable sources and plan to go carbon neutral by as early as 2030. But they will do this by buying carbon credits with the earnings of their fossil fuel exports.

Doug Craig at Climate of Change picks up on the theme. Energy companies are currently spending $600 billion trying to find more fossil fuels.

The Conversation has tagged a topic IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Continue reading Commentary on IPCC WG1: Part 2

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff