So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it. I know they’re wrong wait and see.

On ABC last night, Four Corners presented an amusing story about the state of the Australian Greens, and particularly NSW division.  This is not the first critical ABC review of the Greens, with previous efforts including a Background Briefing story on Radio National.  In the Radio National story, it was suggested (don’t laught), that the Greens have both a left and a right wing!

Well let me correct myself.  ABC did not criticise the Greens.  They criticised the NSW division of the Greens while lauding the talent, judgement and wisdom of the non NSW leadership.

Spartacus is not seeking to endorse the policies or behaviours of the NSW Greens, but talk about a hatchet job.  Yes.  It is true that the NSW Greens are best reflected by Left Renewal whose policy manifesto has a preamble stating that:

 this land is built on genocide and is, was, and always will be Aboriginal land.

And yes, the Left Renewal manifesto also states that:

As advocates of social justice, we believe:

1. That our struggle for social justice brings us into irreconcilable conflict with the capitalist mode of production, and all other forms of class society. This requires us to take a strong stance on the struggle of the working class. We further understand that the working class extends past the factory, and includes home workers, sex workers, and well beyond.

But what about the rest of the Greens policies?  Voluntary economic suicide anyone?  Government by United Nations perhaps?

The Four Corners story paraded a who’s who of Green Royalty, including Bob Brown, Christine Milne, Nick McKim and Richard Di Natalie, who all together, had a nice swing a Lee Rhiannon. Amusing to watch would be an understatement, but again, what about the non-NSW greens?

What last night’s story seemed more about was the institutional greens (Brown, Milne, McKim, Di Natalie), leveraging the publicly funded ABC, itself full of Green voters, to have a whack at its internal opponents.

Yes, the institutional greens seemed (again) to use its friends in the public broadcaster to concurrently beat up NSW opponents and to promote the rest of the party and its leadership.

Whose ABC is it?

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Warty – Charlottesville

“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror and remember it was white Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists’.  David Duke (former KKK leader).

It seems almost like a mixed metaphor to talk of a swamp ‘rearing up’ to engulf, but that is exactly what the ‘deep state’ is now doing. To mix the metaphor yet further, one could say Charlottesville is the hole in the dyke for Trump, simply because his earlier statements didn’t speak the language of the swamp. Trump spoke the truth in condemning all groups involved in the demonstration, something their beloved Obama would never have done: the former president would have condemned neo Nazis for the violence; kkk for allegedly having a presence; white supremacists for daring to raise their ugly heads . . . nothing about BLM, AntiFa and other extreme left agitators, many paid by George Soros to disrupt, maim and create mayhem.

A white guy, whom I refuse to label, loses his cool, for reasons only known to him, reverses into a crowd of radical leftists and unfortunately killing a woman and seriously injuring a number of others. This single, indeed appalling incident, has become a hole in the dyke incident for Trump, and he buckled and singled out several white nationalist groups by name in his second address on the issue. Not a single radical left group received a mention: this was an undignified capitulation, and people like Mr Duke have every reason to be dismayed. As a Trump supporter I too feel more than a little despondent.

For many the term ‘deep state’ or ‘Washington Swamp’ are simply rather scary terms that seem to present an unspecified threat. In truth they represent vested interests of groups and individuals dedicated in maintaining the status quo, which in America, and elsewhere means the systematic de-democratisation of often centuries old established political systems, replaced by human rights-based judges and NGOs, who make decisions binding on millions of people who never voted for them in the first place.

Trump’s forté is that he is a negotiator, which is part of the reason for his being such a successful businessman, but it is also a weakness. One thing Trump ought not to be doing at this point is trade away his principles for legislative expediency. His ability to get tax reform and the repeal of ‘Obamacare’ through Congress and the Senate is finely poised at this point in time, and he needs Republican support, some of whom, like Lindsey Graham and John McCain have consistently opposed him. But there are larger issues at stake here, and that is the very real possibility he might throw millions of his long-suffering supporters back onto the scrap heap. He gave them a voice and he is now in danger of taking it away from them.

This would be a momentous betrayal, with far reaching consequences for conservatives the world over.

Posted in Guest Post | 60 Comments

Karma

Let’s roll the tape:

“But if we start letting movie stars — even though they’ve been the sexiest man alive twice — to come into our nation [and break the laws], then why don’t we just break the laws for everybody?

“It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States.”

Mr Joyce said the dogs came to his attention after they were spotted being taken to a dog groomer on the Gold Coast.

Earlier, on ABC 612 Brisbane, Mr Joyce said “if he doesn’t take Boo and Pistol back we do have to euthanase them”.

“Just because he’s Johnny Depp doesn’t make him exempt from Australian laws,” Mr Joyce said.

“The way this works is if we are going to make an excuse for Johnny Depp because he’s got a private jet and brought in his dogs then I suppose you have to start making exemptions and excuses for everybody.

“The reason you can walk through a park in Brisbane and not have in the back of your mind ‘what happens if a rabid dog comes out and bites me or bites my kid’ is because we’ve kept that disease out.

“I’ll tell you how close it is: it’s in Bali, it’s just next door. So this is not fanciful stuff, and therefore we’re very diligent about what comes into our nation.”

When Mr Joyce was asked if his tough stance might affect Depp’s view of him, he replied: “I don’t think Mr Depp will be inviting me to the grand opening of the Pirates of the Caribbean.”

A US embassy spokeswoman said it encouraged US residents to do their research before travelling abroad.

When John Howard said that we would decide who comes here blah, blah, blah, I think he meant Australians as being the “we” and not New Zealanders.

Posted in Libertarians don't live by argument alone | 42 Comments

Guest Post: The Magic Pudding Electricity Theory

In writing a response to a letter from NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin, Michael Crawford illustrates the demise of the electricity industry’s efficiency with this graph.

Dr Crawford continues

“The National Electricity Market (NEM) was established at the end of 1998. Being a politician you will understand it was promoted to the public on the grounds that it was going to reduce electricity prices.

“As the graph clearly shows, real electricity prices have doubled since the turn of the century, with almost all the increase occurring since 2005, and with that increase highly correlated with the increasing proportion of intermittent power generation (i.e. wind and solar), which has also brought us massive threats to our power supply since they don’t work when the sun is not shining and the wind not blowing (or blowing too strongly, as South Australia discovered).”

The  Minister’s support for the Finkel “blueprint” to restore cheap and reliable power

“This is a plan to plan (by various bureaucratic bodies):

  • which proposes a 42% “renewable energy” target (most of it from intermittent power supplies);
  • whose author had such a grip on the reality of our electricity system he failed to forecast anything like the 20% increase in consumer prices announced within a month of the report’s release;
  • which relied on cost and price forecasts from a body whose previous forecasts to the Australian Government had proved woefully wrong; and
  • Dr Finkel’s forecasts relied on assumptions about adding power generation backup or storage facilities in order to try to counteract the insecurity due to intermittent power generators, but neglected to include those in the costs of the system for which industry and consumers will have to pay.

”The Finkel report is a recipe for even more disaster for the NSW electricity consumers. But aside from the “Finkel Blueprint” you want us to be reassured because there are multiple bureaucratic activities by or related to the:

  • COAG Energy Council;
  • Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO);
  • Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC); • Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC);
  • NSW Energy Security Taskforce;
  • NSW Renewable Energy Action Plan; and
  • NSW Climate Change Fund Strategic Plan.

“These are precisely the agencies which presided over the 100% increase in real consumer power prices over the last decade, and have brought our electricity system to the brink of failure. When NSW Governments almost halved the real consumer price of electricity from the mid 50s to the 80s, they did it without the phalanx of bureaucrats writing endless papers and reports and holding meetings which preside over failure.”

The Magic Pudding Electricity Supply policy

According to the Minister NSW is ‘well positioned for reliable supply’, particularly because “NSW can also draw on supply through connections with Victoria and Queensland”.

Dr Crawford continues,

“But when it is high summer in NSW it also is high summer in Victoria and Queensland and all are seeking support from each other.  The linchpin in this system of mutual dependence was the Hazelwood power station which was shut through a combination of wilful destructiveness on the part of the current Victorian Government and dithering by the Federal Government.

“In the event that the Magic Pudding doesn’t work as you hope, you offer a backup plan, attributed to the Energy Security Taskforce led by the State’s Chief Scientist, which is ‘get some people to turn off their power’. That policy is in fact a blatant admission of failure by the gaggle of incompetent officials to whom you have ceded your responsibility to ensure the lights stay on.

“According to (Minister Harwin’s) letter ‘Private sector investment in new generation, like wind power, is important to ensure our system security’. (Yet) our electricity insecurity has been caused precisely because of the inclusion of highly subsidised intermittent electricity generators (wind and solar), which have also caused our high prices for electricity.

“(The Minister’s letter) includes the dishonest claim that we are undergoing ‘an industry-led transition to a lower emissions generation mix’. The rush to install intermittent electricity generators is not ‘industry-led’. It is government-driven via two mechanisms.

“The first is the Federal Government’s, Large-Scale Generation Certificates (LGC), mandated under the RET, which enforces a direct subsidy for all intermittent power, which electricity consumers in NSW and other states are forced to pay.

“The second is the practice of the NSW Government’s planning agencies to approve intermittent power generation applications without any consideration of the impact that will have on NSW electricity security and NSW prices.

“Were the Federal Government not forcing all electricity consumers to subsidise intermittent electricity production, and were (State) government not approving connection to the electricity grid of generators whose supply is both intermittent and unpredictable, the disaster would not be happening.”

Dr Crawford goes on to criticise the NSW mitigatory plan to spend $400 million on emission reduction and energy efficiency and to get households to use less energy.  He comments that the minister’s claim that the ‘Renewable Energy Target will deliver thousands of jobs across the State’ fails to mention the tens of thousands of jobs lost in other industries as a consequence of the higher prices and reduced reliability, adding, perhaps optimistically, that “there are junior economists in Treasury who can explain to you the fallacy you are promoting”.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Hypocrisy of progressives, Uncategorized | 39 Comments

The Corbyn Plan

The election plan of the ALP is to follow the policy lead of Jeremy Corbyn.  The same Jeremy Corbyn who said about Hugo Chavez and Venezuela in 2009:

Venezuela is seriously conquering poverty by emphatically rejecting the Neo Liberal policies of the world’s financial institutions.

The same Jeremy Corbyn who said in 2011:

I’ve been involved in opposing anti-terror legislation ever since I first went into Parliament in 1983.

The same Jeremy Corbyn who:

claimed that 9/11 was “manipulated” to make it look like Osama Bin Laden was responsible to allow the West to go to war in Afghanistan.

And still the same Jeremy Corbyn who:

blamed Britain for the beheading of Alan Henning by the ISIS killer “Jihadi John”.

And the very same Jeremy Corbyn whose economic manifesto includes rail nationalisation, free tertiary education and freezing the pension retirement age.

What is worse.  The ALP policy direction or the ineptitude of the Coalition government such that the ALP are on track to win the next election?

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

These are not unrelated stories

First this: President Trump Launching Section 301 Trade Infringement Investigation: “This is only the beginning”….

During an afternoon announcement with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, President Trump announced the launch of section 301 trade investigations into China’s business practices for theft of U.S. technology and violations of U.S. intellectual property rights.

Perhaps the most overlooked portion of the remarks from President Trump happened as he sat down to sign the Presidential Memorandum authorizing the official investigation:

…This is only the beginning folks. This is only the beginning…

For approximately 30 years China has been engaged in a unidirectional trade war against the United States of America; facilitated and enabled by both Democrats and Republicans who have been purchased by multinational and corporate lobbyists to block any effort to defend our U.S. interests. The biggest victims have been U.S. middle-class workers.

And then this: NORTH KOREA’S KIM JONG UN SAYS WILL WATCH US BIT LONGER BEFORE ACTING

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un received a report from his army on its plans to strike the area around Guam and said he will watch the actions of the United States for a while longer before making a decision, the North’s official news agency said on Tuesday.

“The United States, which was the first to bring numerous strategic nuclear equipment near us, should first make the right decision and show through actions if they wish to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and prevent a dangerous military clash,” Kim was cited as saying in the report by KCNA.

The North’s leader ordered the army should always be fire-ready should he make a decision for action, the report said.

And it ain’t over yet, except perhaps for Kim.

Posted in International | 14 Comments

Cross-Post: Parnell McGuinness: Same Sex Marriage ‘yes’ campaign could lose if mismanaged

Australians who have not yet made up their minds on same-sex marriage are now embarking on a “journey” which many politicians only recently completed. It looks like most will arrive at the same destination, but without the whiff of political expediency.

Still, despite the polls, if the journey is mismanaged the “yes” campaign could lose. To take one example, this could happen if people begin to feel that by extending marriage rights, their own right to hold private religious views will be diminished.

Or if ordinary Australians are made to feel they can’t voice their concerns without being howled down and silenced as bigots, they might deliver a Brexit-style silent revolt.

Likewise if same-sex marriage campaigners allow themselves to believe that the case for extending marriage equality is obvious and doesn’t need to be argued. It may feel obvious in the wealthy, liberal and largely white inner-city suburbs, where sexual taboos were done away with long ago.

But remember until as recently as the 1970s pretty much all sex was taboo. Even heterosexual relationships were only socially acceptable within marriage.

Unwed mothers were pressured to give up their children to married couples. No-fault divorce wasn’t available in Australia until 1975.

Before that, people would sometimes pretend they’d been adulterous to get out — ironically, the first major sexual taboos were smashed by heterosexuals who were desperate not to be married.

In 1975 the first Australian state decriminalised homosexuality. Homosexual practice wasn’t decriminalised in Tasmania until 1997.

This is shockingly recent, but it’s a good reminder that we did hold these attitudes and taboos — and that they have adjusted and changed within our lifetime.

Australia has always lagged in the Western world, possibly because of our large immigrant population, who often bring with them and maintain socially conservative attitudes about sex and the role of women, among other things.

In many non-Western countries these taboos still exist and they remain strong in many new immigrant communities.

But it’s worth remembering that we are all immigrants from a not-too-distant past.

Taboos hold us at an emotional level. Changing legislation is not enough to change people’s hearts and minds. Even when it is plainly the right thing to do, there is still a job of persuasion to be done.

It should help the “yes” campaign that it can build itself around a deeply conservative proposition to restore family values.

Campaigners must realise that just yelling louder in their existing echo chambers will have no impact.

And lashing out at people who disagree — precisely those whose minds need to be changed by the “yes” campaign — will be counter-productive.

For their part, conservatives should embrace the opportunity to broaden their base. It has been a very, very long time since part of society last clamoured for access to a conservative institution rather than freedom from one.

The conservative mindset prefers the stability of a regularised, public commitment over the less clear de facto model.

Stable domestic situations promote the wellbeing of the children in a household, as well as reducing the potential for welfare fraud.

Both of these arguments carry conservative weight, but children are a priority.

Children are increasingly born into irregular situations created by parents of all sexual orientations. Offering parents who want it a way to create more stability for children can only be a positive and is an inherently conservative thing to do. To put it another way, far from undermining it, extending marriage equality to same-sex relationships will likely make society more conservative, not less.

That said, it will be a tough time for same-sex couples between now and November 7.

It will also be tough for people who have doubts about extending traditional marriage to same-sex couples. The trolls from all sides will be out in force, trying to polarise the debate.

But there’s a silver lining.

For a couple of months, Australians will turn their minds to the topic of why extending equal franchise to people whose opinion — or in this case orientation — you don’t necessarily share is the right thing to do.

And make no mistake about it, tolerance is a two-way street.

We can’t forbid someone from being religious any more than we can forbid them fancying the same sex. A popular saying about gay marriage has been that if you don’t support them, you shouldn’t get one.

Well, the same thing applies in the other direction: if you don’t agree with the pastor, don’t go to the church. How people behave to one ­another when they interact is more important than what they think or even say in private. ­Actions trump words.

If the “yes” campaign accepts this, and engages respectfully and on a personal level to dispel doubts, we will come out of this knowing why we are a nation that extends the symbolic institution of marriage to all consenting couples.

Political correctness will have nothing to do with it.

Political correctness is the preserve of mealy mouthed pleaders doing obedience to an establishment view.

People — and politicians — who take up attitudes based on political correctness are capable of shedding them again when fashions change, or the posture is no longer useful. But an unforced and considered opinion sticks.

We all have something to gain by conducting this debate with respect and in good faith. If the goal is a freer and more stable society, for once there can be winners all around.

This op-ed first appeared in The Daily Telegraph.

Posted in Cross Post | 129 Comments

The Gipper one more time

Update: Brendan O’Neill on the various hate groups.

Posted in History, International | 36 Comments

David Leyonhjelm on the Murray Darling basin plan

The Millennium Drought, the longest and most severe drought for a hundred years, prompted some people to panic about climate change and conclude that drought was the new normal, that water would always be scarce, and that the environment was facing catastrophe.

More sensible people knew, and others found out, that droughts always end. That occurred in 2010/11 with widespread flooding. Wetlands recovered, birds bred enthusiastically, frogs and fish proliferated and the cycle of life resumed as it has for thousands of years. Dorothea Mackellar’s description of Australia as a land of droughts and flooding rains was never better demonstrated.

However, during the drought, a plan was devised, first by the Howard Liberal government and then by the Gillard Labor government, to remove water from agriculture in order to ‘save’ the environment. Whether this would have occurred in the absence of the drought is uncertain; although water management was imperfect, with over allocation in some areas, the arguments at the time were all about equitably sharing between the states.

In 2007 the Howard government introduced the Water Act, which required the development of a plan to manage water in the Murray Darling Basin. The details of that plan were negotiated with the states by the Gillard government. Against the background of drought and state rivalry, it was 1% science and 99% politics.

The plan calls for the “return” of 2,750 GL of water to the environment, via both water rights purchased from farmers and water efficiency measures. A further 450 GL is to be returned subject to certain conditions.

Implementation commenced in 2012, with water rights purchased from farmers in southern Queensland, NSW and Victoria, plus a small quantity from SA.

In 2015 and 2016 I chaired a Senate inquiry into the effects of its implementation, with hearings in nine locations including each of the participating states. We also flew from the mouth of the Murray to Renmark in South Australia to allow us to have a good look at the lower lakes.

What the Senate committee found is that the loss of irrigation water was having a very significant impact on rural communities. Farms which previously grew irrigated crops, such as pasture for dairy cows, cotton, or fruit and vegetables, now grew dryland crops or ran a few sheep. They required far fewer inputs, such as machinery and fertilisers, and generated far less income. Farm and supplier workers lost their jobs and moved away, leaving communities with fewer school children, volunteer fire fighters and customers in local shops.

The committee also found there was a very poor understanding of the plan. Among environmentalists, for example, there was an almost religious belief that the environment simply needed more water. Indeed, this continues today, with claims that unless the full amount of water is delivered, environmental disaster will follow. This is despite the fact that water can do more harm than good unless it is in the right place at the right time, in the right quantities.

Lack of understanding runs particularly deep in South Australia. Its outrage over allegations that water is being misappropriated from the Darling and Barwon rivers in NSW is ridiculous, given only about 5-6% of the water in these two rivers ever gets that far. If anyone is entitled to be outraged it is downstream NSW farmers who cannot access water to which they are legally entitled.

There are also regular claims that Adelaide’s water supply, SA agriculture or even the state’s survival are at risk unless the plan is fully implemented. In fact, the plan guarantees SA a minimum of 1850 GL a year, which is not at the slightest risk.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect the committee heard was how a considerable amount of the water (around 900 GL according to witnesses) flowing down the Murray River to SA, much of it taken from productive agriculture in Victoria and NSW, is evaporating each year in Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert, also known as the lower lakes.

The point was made that, while evaporation is unavoidable, there is no need for it to be fresh water. If Lake Alexandrina was allowed to remain open, subject to tidal influences rather than closed by man-made barrages, it could be seawater that evaporates (or at least a mixture of fresh and seawater). Preserving an artificially created environment at the expense of Australian farming and rural communities seems very poor public policy.

But the bottom line is this – the Murray Darling Basin Plan was conceived in panic, negotiated with little reference to science and data, and is seriously imperfect. Its intentions – to preserve the natural environment – are laudable, but it should not be treated as holy writ. There is enormous scope for improvement.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

Posted in Guest Post | 17 Comments

Q&A Forum: August 14, 2017

Posted in Open Forum | 201 Comments