All the better to lobby with

From today’s Oz, it seems

A bipartisan committee (of the Tasmanian Parliament) has unanimously recommended state parliament grow from 25 to 35 members.

For a population of roughly 500,000 people, they need an extra 10 representatives.  From 1 member for every 20,000 people to 1 member for every 15,000.

But why stop at 35 members.  Why not 250,000 members?  1 member for every 2 people; or 1 member to every non member.

But here’s the special nugget:

The Labor opposition is in favour of the idea — just not the $7m price tag to pay the extra MPs each year.

10 extra members.  $7m.  That’s $700,000 per member.  Presumably that’s salary, international travel, wardrobe allowance, meal allowance, newspaper and pay tv allowance, book allowance, car allowance, superannuation.  Presumably staff and office is on top.

Who needs Centrelink when you have the tax payers of NSW and Victoria to stump up.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

What is the difference between the Liberal Party and the University of Sydney?

On Sky News last night:

The federal government will look to stamp out ‘cancel culture’ at universities after libertarian groups voiced concerns about the erosion of free speech on campuses.

A number of reviews handed down to the government last year recommended a code for free speech after groups claimed there was a rising culture of silencing voices people disagreed with.

“>On Twitter this morning:

The government’s campaign to force universities to comply with so-called free-speech codes has just died in the arse. As I tried to explain to a normally smarter member of the Coalition yesterday, it is always and everywhere a mistake to give the Labor Party a moral victory.

Posted in Education, Freedom of speech | 23 Comments

Kaysee: Lady Justice and Two Significant Cases

A cursory view of the cases discussed here, may suggest that they are two discrete cases. They couldn’t have much in common. Or could they?

The case of George Pell has attracted a huge interest not just in this country, but around the world. For those seriously interested in facts and evidence, there has been a great deal of information available through various sources: media accounts and reports, discussions, analysis, legal documents, judgements and court records. For those serious about the truth, all that research and analysis has led to one verdict.

Back in August 2019, the sane sections of the world were convinced that the decision from the Court of Appeal would be a unanimous one of acquittal. After all, these were judges of the Supreme Court of Victoria. They would be ruling by the law, by facts, by evidence. They were not a panel of lay jury who do not need to justify their Yea or Nay. But, it did not work out that way. The majority dismissed the appeal.

The case is now before the High Court, the highest court in the Australian judicial system. It is the final chance for Pell to have his conviction overturned. The case is scheduled for a hearing in March.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at another case. A case in Pakistan, a country with a population of over 200 million. Around 96% are Muslims.

This is the case of Asia Bibi, a poor Christian farm labourer, who was convicted for blasphemy in 2010 under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, for allegedly uttering derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad. The offence carries mandatory death penalty under the law.

She was tried and found guilty by the mob. Anyone who dared to speak out in support of Bibi, put their own lives in danger.

  • Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, appealed to the government for her release, and promised to reform the blasphemy law. A few weeks later, he was murdered by his own security guard, who shot him repeatedly, at close range, in the middle of a shopping centre.
  • Pakistan’s Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a fellow Christian, had supported Bibi, and had also urged reforming the blasphemy law. He was assassinated on his way to work, hit by a hail of bullets as he sat in his car.
  • Human rights lawyer Saif-ul-Malook, heard of Bibi’s plight and took on her case. After her acquittal in 2018, Malook had to flee the country after receiving death threats. (He has since returned, but even now, he and his family are under police protection.)

While Asia Bibi sat in prison, the case worked its way through the lower courts, and finally landed at the door of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of Pakistan is the highest appellate court of the country and court of last resort. It is the final arbiter of the law and the Constitution. [1]

Despite the risk to their safety and their lives, the judges of the Supreme Court studied the case, and pronounced their judgement based on the law and facts and evidence. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel overturned the death sentence of Bibi in October 2018. They acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, in a Muslim-majority country.

Justice Nisar was due to retire in January [2019]. There was speculation he could have delayed the announcement of the verdict, until after his retirement. Instead, he went ahead and took the deliberate risk of becoming a target of the vigilante groups. [2]

The 56-page verdict written by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar highlighted the following: [3]

“It is a well settled principle of law that one who makes an assertion has to prove it. Thus, the onus rests on the prosecution to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt throughout the trial…

“Presumption of innocence remains throughout the case until such time the prosecution on the evidence satisfies the court beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the offence alleged against him.

“[…] The expression ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ is of fundamental importance to the criminal justice: it is one of the principles which seeks to ensure that no innocent person is convicted.

“Keeping in mind the evidence produced by the prosecution against the alleged blasphemy committed by the appellant, the prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.”

Also:

“It is ironical that in the Arabic language the appellant’s name Asia means ‘sinful’,” reads the judgment written by Justice Asif Khosa, “but in the circumstances of the present case she appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King Lear, ‘more sinned against than sinning’.”  [4]

For anti-blasphemy leaders, Asia Bibi’s case offered the court a chance to make up for [the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer] by letting her hang too. Apart from offering a quid pro quo, this would have turned Asia Bibi into a legally sanctioned example of what would happen when someone is accused of blasphemy the next time. [2] Justice Khosa (who had headed the bench in the case of Qadri’s death sentence) ran a greater risk, but had decided not to set this questionable precedent.

This rather telling summation of the verdict was made in DAWN [5] (emphasis added):

The Supreme Court’s judgement — a seismic event in the country’s history, judicial or otherwise — heavily referenced Islamic teachings and tradition, but ultimately relied on an assessment of facts and evidence to support the overturning of the earlier conviction.

Asia Bibi was finally able to leave Pakistan in May 2019, after being granted asylum in Canada, where she lives in a secret location.

Back to George Pell, and the final verdict from the High Court expected next month. The evidence, at the most basic level, suggests doubt of his guilt on the charges for which he has been convicted. A closer scrutiny of the evidence, would suggest his innocence. Either way, based on the premise: beyond a reasonable doubt, he should be acquitted.

The alternative—not just of Pell dying in prison as a guilty man, but the death of justice in this country—is too terrifying to contemplate.

For both the Bibi and Pell cases:

  • An acquittal does not result in true freedom: the baying mobs are out there. So, the innocent have to be moved to secret locations for safety reasons.
  • The accused, in both cases, are Christians.
    One, a citizen in a Muslim-majority country in the East, with its roots in Islamic law.
    The other, a citizen in what used to be a Christian-majority country in the West, with its roots in the Judaeo-Christian traditions.
  • There is a corruption in the system, that has permitted such cases (baseless allegations of blasphemy and sexual abuse) to end up in the courts.
    Who is going to dig up the dirt, so that the rot is removed to prevent these recurrences? Will there be penalties for falsehoods, false witnesses and their enablers?

Asia Bibi has been acquitted after spending several years in prison, for a crime she didn’t commit. After the case went through its legal processes, the judges of the highest court in Pakistan assessed facts and evidence to make their final judgement.

We can only hope that Lady Justice will do the same for George Pell.

Sources:

[1] Supreme Court of Pakistan website

[2] Asia Bibi: Pakistan Supreme Court’s ‘historic’ ruling

[3] BREAKING NEWS: Asia Bibi is to be freed!

[4] Blasphemy of Christian Pakistani Woman Overturned

[5] These 7 points explain the Supreme Court’s decision to free Aasia Bibi

[6] The Pakistani lawyer putting his life on the line

[7] LUMS Law Journal: A Critical Review of Asia Bibi Case

Posted in Guest Post | 16 Comments

Coronavirus, the economy and the American election, the story thus far …

Whoever does the plot lines for our world is astonishingly creative but does tend to be highly melodramatic. So this is where we are. Our economies are coming good, the virtuous if eccentric Donald Trump is getting on top of things with some of the best economic outcomes in generations. Meanwhile, the Democrats go into self-destructive mode, creating a set of rules accompanied by a large crew of incompetents who allow not just anyone, but an out-and-out communist to take first place in the race for the nomination. In almost every conceivable circumstance, the communist must lose, unless there is a major recession. But then, just in time, along comes the coronavirus, knocking supply chains out of kilter across the world, with this coronavirus business looking like it might really create an international recession just in time for the election. Now read on, taken from Instapundit.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: A Coronavirus Pandemic Is Looking A Lot More Likely. Here’s What That Means.

Harvard scientist predicts coronavirus will infect up to 70 percent of humanity.

WHO says it’s too early to declare a coronavirus pandemic: ‘Now is the time to prepare’.

Coronavirus’s Global Spread May Not Be Contained, WHO Says.

As coronavirus spreads, the US is not fully prepared, but here is how we can be.

What’s it like to be in Italy amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Citi, Credit Suisse among banks curbing Italy trips on coronavirus fears.

Dazed Italy Bickers and Seeks Reason for Coronavirus Spread.

Some Apple retail stores re-open in China after coronavirus closings.

Coronavirus fear sickens stock market, spreads need to diversify manufacturing.

Wall Street plunges as coronavirus spreads.

Global stock markets plunge on coronavirus fears. Though to be fair, I wonder how much the rise of Bernie has to do with this too.

Coronavirus and what needs to be done to get in front of global pandemics.

UPDATE: Yeah.

From here almost anything is possible. Comedy gold! Guaranteed to win the intergalactic Oscars, Tonies and an Emmy.

Posted in Economics and economy, Elections, International | 38 Comments

Remind me: Who won the last election?

Update: From the Hansard:

Senator KENEALLY (New South WalesDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (15:55): I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

   (i) on the same day that Queensland Police Commissioner, Ms Katarina Carroll, said it was inappropriate to suggest the murder of a woman and her children by her husband could be an instance of a husband being driven too far, Ms Bettina Arndt, who received an Order of Australia honour in January, nonetheless said “keeping an open mind and awaiting proper evidence, including the possibility that Rowan Baxter might have been driven too far”,

   (ii) the statement of Ms Arndt has the potential to bring the Order of Australia, instituted by Her Majesty The Queen, into disrepute, and

   (iii) Order of Australia awards are a privilege and an honour and come with responsibilities; and

(b) agrees that:

   (i) Ms Arndt’s comments are reckless and abhorrent, and

   (ii) the values that underpin Ms Arndt’s views on this horrific family violence incident are not consistent with her retaining her Order of Australia.

Division: AYES 55 (53 majority) NOES 2 PAIRS 0

Ayes (55)
  • Photo of Askew, WAskew, W
  • Photo of Ayres, TAyres, T
  • Photo of Bilyk, CLBilyk, CL
  • Photo of Bragg, A JBragg, A J
  • Photo of Brockman, SBrockman, S
  • Photo of Brown, CLBrown, CL
  • Photo of Canavan, MJCanavan, MJ
  • Photo of Carr, KJCarr, KJ
  • Photo of Chisholm, AChisholm, A
  • Photo of Ciccone, RCiccone, R
  • Photo of Cormann, MCormann, M
  • Photo of Davey, PDavey, P
  • Photo of Di Natale, RDi Natale, R
  • Photo of Duniam, JDuniam, J
  • Photo of Faruqi, MFaruqi, M
  • Photo of Gallagher, KRGallagher, KR
  • Photo of Green, NGreen, N
  • Photo of Griff, SGriff, S
  • Photo of Hanson-Young, SCHanson-Young, SC
  • Photo of Henderson, SMHenderson, SM
  • Photo of Hughes, HHughes, H
  • Photo of Hume, JHume, J
  • Photo of Keneally, KKKeneally, KK
  • Photo of Lines, SLines, S
  • Photo of McCarthy, MMcCarthy, M
  • Photo of McDonald, SMcDonald, S
  • Photo of McKenzie, BMcKenzie, B
  • Photo of McKim, NJMcKim, NJ
  • McLachlan, A
  • Photo of Molan, AJMolan, AJ
  • Photo of O'Neill, DO’Neill, D
  • Photo of O'Sullivan, MAO’Sullivan, MA
  • Photo of Paterson, JPaterson, J
  • Photo of Patrick, RLPatrick, RL
  • Photo of Polley, HPolley, H
  • Photo of Pratt, LCPratt, LC
  • Photo of Rennick, GRennick, G
  • Photo of Rice, JRice, J
  • Photo of Ruston, ARuston, A
  • Photo of Ryan, SMRyan, SM
  • Photo of Scarr, PScarr, P
  • Photo of Seselja, ZSeselja, Z
  • Photo of Sheldon, ASheldon, A
  • Photo of Siewert, RSiewert, R
  • Photo of Smith, DA (teller)Smith, DA (teller)
  • Photo of Smith, MSmith, M
  • Photo of Steele-John, JSteele-John, J
  • Photo of Stoker, AJStoker, AJ
  • Photo of Urquhart, AEUrquhart, AE
  • Photo of Van, DVan, D
  • Photo of Walsh, JWalsh, J
  • Photo of Waters, LJWaters, LJ
  • Photo of Watt, MWatt, M
  • Photo of Whish-Wilson, PSWhish-Wilson, PS
  • Photo of Wong, PWong, P
Noes (2)
  • Photo of Hanson, PHanson, P
  • Photo of Roberts, M (teller)Roberts, M (teller)
Pairs (0)
  • Nil

The Senate divided. [16:03]
(The President—Senator Ryan)

Question agreed to.

Posted in 2019 election, Conservative politics, Taking out the trash | 80 Comments

AEMO electricity dispatch summary

Evening update. At 8 in Sydney with the sun down in South Australia they are a mendicant state again. Just as well some other states have power to spare!

This is a fascinating story! A screen shot at 3pm Sydney time from the AEMO dispatch summary.  To complete the picture Tasmania was generating 1.5GW (almost all hydro) and using 1.1GW with o.4GW flowing to the mainland. The price was $45. Shortly before it was much lower.

South Australia was exporting a trickle of power and generating a bit less than half of their production from the wind – o.4GW out of 1.2GW for the whole SE Australian fleet. That 1.2GW  is a fifth of plated capacity and 4.3% of the total of 30GW of power in play at the time.

What sort of market generates a huge negative price for something where the windmills are only producing half of the power that the state is using?

What happens when all of the other pending RE capacity comes on line?

What happens on a windless evening at dinnertime when Liddell is gone and some other coal burner is down for maintenance? Regardless of the installed/plated capacity for solar and wind power.

Beat the rush and get a generator!

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 9 Comments

Royal Commission: Good policy to go up in flames and Morrison will get burned

What is the point of the SloMo Royal Commission into Bushfires other than politics?

More importantly, what recommendations will the Government be able to implement?

The Federal Government does not manage parks, forests and public lands. It has no jurisdiction over planned burnings and preparedness activities, like slashing, mowing and creating fuel breaks on public land. It doesn’t maintain water points, fire towers and road access in our forests and parks. The Federal Government does not respond to bushfires. It owns not a single fire truck or employs a single firefighter. It is not responsible for funding state fire fighting or emergency services and has no input into firefighting strategy (i.e. water bombers versus on the ground fire fighters). The Federal Government is also not responsible for planning law. It has no say in defining bushfire prone areas, deciding  whether populations should continue to be built up in such areas, and if so what building and land regulations should apply.

In short, it is difficult to see how the Royal Commission could produce a single recommendation of substance that the Morrison Government could implement.

Given that limitation there is a danger the Royal Commission will make recommendations where it can give something for the Commonwealth to do. That will likely involve either climate change policy or some kind of Commonwealth takeover or intervention in bushfire management.

Any policy recommendation advocating something be done in the name of climate change will end up a policy and political disaster. It was foolish of SloMo to include it in the terms of reference. Activists will promote the insanity that policies made in Canberra can change weather conditions all over the country to prevent bushfires.

This will be a public relations disaster for the Coalition as they will be partially blamed for the bushfires for “not having doing enough on climate change”. Worse still it will detract attention and resources from doing the practical things that limit the spread and intensity of bushfires. This will also likely be a source of Coalition internal conflict. SloMo has in all likelihood wedged himself in the terms of reference and in his misinformed public statements paying homage to climate change and longer, drier summers.

Any policy recommendation advocating a greater role for the Commonwealth will also end up in disaster. SloMo is unfortunately of  the mindset that every problem requires a government solution and every government solution is better off centralised in Canberra. After all it has worked so well in education, health, water, industrial relations and disability services thus far.

There is scant evidence that anything centralised to the Commonwealth leads to greater efficiency of better outcomes. It will simply lead to a blurring of the lines of accountability, duplication of roles and responsibility, greater bureaucracy, higher cost and poorer outcomes. It will perpetuate a blame game between levels of government as States demand more Commonwealth funding, crying poor having allocated the previous year’s fuel reduction budget to transgender eduction for primary school children.

The SloMo Royal Commission will either make recommendations the Morrison Government can’t implement or recommendations it could or will try and implement but you hope to heaven it won’t. Good policy will go up in flames and Morrison will get burned.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Comments

Trumpomattox

Trump has flipped the 9th Circuit – new judges are causing a ‘shock wave.’

Posted in American politics | 10 Comments

Hoodlum turf war: cig ‘criminals’ muscle in on state’s racket

LIBERAL MP Craig Kelly is chairing a parliamentary inquiry into illicit tobacco sales. Fairfax reports that Kelly is dismayed by an “unintended” corollary of the ever-escalating excise which addicted governments need as a revenue stream (and promote falsely as a tool to end smoking): the encouragement of illegal cigarette suppliers. Excise per cigarette is set to hit one dollar from 1 September this year.


Tobacco excise, expected to reap $17.2 billion this year, is now the fourth largest individual tax collected by the federal government with the states also benefiting from the GST that is imposed on cigarettes.

But the excise increases have given a huge financial incentive to criminals to enter the illegal cigarette market.

Craig Kelly, the Liberal MP heading a parliamentary inquiry into illicit tobacco sales, said it was clear that, while the excise increases were helping to drive down smoking rates, they had also encouraged criminals into the sector.

 
Australian Border Force siezed a record 633 tonnes of tobacco in 2018-19. The Police Federation of Australia – which doesn’t miss a thing – believes high excise rates are encouraging “criminals” whose contraband cigs are increasingly attractive to many smokers, “especially those on low incomes.” The report specifically mentions the government’s concern about the effect of affordable tobacco in Aboriginal communities – all the better to appear righteous even as it cynically uses smokers to balance the nation’s budget.


Last year’s [excise] lift, on top of 2017 and 2018 increases, will deliver an additional $2.7 billion in revenue to the current budget.

A change in the timing of excise collection, aimed at preventing evasion at the border, will deliver a one-off $3.3 billion in extra revenue this year. The two measures combined are worth $6 billion in additional excise in a year the government is forecasting a $5 billion surplus.

 
If you’re a smoker, the next time a sanctimonious crackpot tells you he resents your habit because of the future hospital cost of treating your tobacco-related illness, tell him you and your kind – lordly benefactors all – built the hospitals. Then blow a smoke-ring into his face and ash on his carpet.

Posted in Economics on the left, Taxation | 25 Comments

Beyond parody. Halving household electricity consumption

The  bad news about aiming for zero emissions is that the cost of electricity will rise about 40 per cent by 2050 but the good news is that households’ power use will halve.  This comes from the Australian National University and ClimateWorks Australia, described as an independent climate advisory group. Independent of what? Read more if you can get through the gate at The Australian.

The 2014 paper found demand for coal and oil would fall but there would be significant growth in gas, carbon forestry, and uranium and lithium mining industries.

“The analysis shows job creation in the renewable electricity generation sector is double the job losses from the coal-fired electricity generation sector,” the ­report says.

Agricultural emissions would rise 20 per cent and ­demand for beef would slow “as a result of increases in beef prices in a decarbonised world”.

Labor adopted a net zero emissions by 2050 target last week but has not detailed its plan on how to get there.

Will the ALP be more forthcoming with their plan than the committee in Great Britain that did not reveal the details of their plan to go zero? And the cost. I wonder why?  Think big!

The cost of reaching the government’s “Net Zero” target will be astronomical for the UK economy. That’s according to analysis by two new reports published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The reports find that decarbonising the electricity system and domestic housing in the next three decades will cost over £2.3 trillion pounds. The final bill will surpass £3 trillion, or £100,000 per household, once the cost of decarbonising major emitting sectors like manufacturing, transport and agriculture are included.

CHOKE POINT  UPDATE

Monday Feb 25. Not a sceenshot so it will change. At 9am (Sydney time) the wind was delivering less than one GW, 13% of plated capacity and 3.5% of demand (25GW).  I check daily at 9am and 6.30pm and I don’t recall any time in the last week when wind topped 10% of plated capacity. Mostly it was under 5%.  Continue reading

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 21 Comments