South Australia’s renewable debacle

Excerpt of me on Chris Kenny Viewpoint tonight.  Go to the 60 second mark.

Posted in Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Gratuitous Advertising: Liberty at Risk

Melbourne Book Launch Liberty at Risk

The Rendezvous Hotel
328 Flinders Street, Melbourne
2nd August, 2016

when Chris Berg,
Senior Fellow, Institute of Public Affairs,
Author of The Libertarian Alternative
will launch

Liberty at Risk: Tackling Today’s Political Problems.

Peter Hill will be Master of Ceremonies.

RSVP Peter Fenwick

“Never has a book been more timely and welcomed than Liberty at Risk: Tackling Today’s Political Problems. Australian Peter Fenwick addresses some of the most important and vexing problems of today in 23 short chapters. The answers rest on the foundations of Classical Liberalism and Austrian free market economics and the reader will be reminded of work of the great Henry Hazlitt. An excellent introduction for the uninitiated.”

Dr. Mark Thornton
Senior Fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute

Posted in Gratuitous Advertising | 7 Comments

Q&A Forum: July 25, 2016

Posted in Open Forum | 193 Comments

David Leyonhjelm on the Reserve Bank

During the Global Financial Crisis there was a splash of taxpayer’s funds bigger than school halls, pink batts and $900 cheques combined. But it was a cash splash that no one knows about, because it was done by a part of government that has zero accountability to ministers, the parliament or the public.

From September 2008 to July 2009 the Reserve Bank agreed to borrow US dollars from the US Federal Reserve so it could on-lend them to local traders on concessional terms. The purpose was to boost US dollar liquidity in the East Asian time zone. At its peak, the Reserve Bank provided $A41 billion to the US Federal Reserve under this agreement.

In acquiescing to the US Federal Reserve in this way, the Reserve Bank chose not to invest taxpayer funds to maximise returns relative to risk. A conservative estimate suggests this may have cost taxpayers half a billion dollars compared to the alternative returns available.

It is possible the Reserve Bank’s actions were in Australia’s interests. Alternatively, they may have been nothing more than industry assistance or even a favour for the US Federal Reserve. The point is, the Reserve Bank never outlined the cost, nor provided a lay explanation of its actions. It never needed to; the Reserve Bank answers to no one.

With the power of the printing press, the Reserve Bank pays its staff as much as it pleases, then chooses whether or not to pass on any excess funds to the government.

The Senators on the Senate Economics Committee are too intimidated to ask it to turn up to Senate Estimates to be quizzed on its activities. And when the bank appears before a House of Representatives Committee, we see officials speaking in complex terms and fawning politicians nodding soberly rather than asking for answers than can be understood.

The Reserve Bank and our politicians should bear in mind what Einstein said: “If you cannot explain it to a six year old, you don’t really understand it.”

The Reserve Bank is also subject to no real legislative constraints. Even though the Reserve Bank Act of 1959 requires it to target currency stability, the bank (wisely) chose to target price inflation in 1993. Even when the government declared in 1996 that the Reserve Bank should indeed target inflation, it didn’t bother to update the Reserve Bank’s legislation to this end.

This is a concern, because the Reserve Bank’s ability to create inflation is akin to a power to tax. After all, inflation reduces our purchasing power just like tax. The Reserve Bank’s legislation should be updated to set out how much inflation the government and parliament expects.

The Reserve Bank’s legislation should also ban it from undertaking activities beyond inflation targeting. We don’t need the Reserve Bank to have a standing power to bail out banks. It is scandalous that the Reserve Bank has the potential to bail out a bank, at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of billions of dollars, without prior approval from the elected government or parliament.

We also don’t need the Reserve Bank to play with the exchange rate, which is supposed to float. Nor do we need it to regulate banks – APRA, ASIC and the ACCC already do this. And we don’t need the Reserve Bank to invest funds on behalf of the government – we have the AOFM for that.

We should set the rules for the Reserve Bank as if it were staffed by its fair share of lazy and stupid bureaucrats. While the officials currently in control of the Reserve Bank seem conscientious and smart, this will not always be the case.

We should make the Reserve Bank accountable through legislation. Moreover, it would be best if the Reserve Bank sought regular budget funding from the parliament to pay for its staff and overheads.

This wouldn’t threaten the independent implementation of monetary policy. We get independent tax administration by the Tax Commissioner, and independent collation of statistics from the Australian Statistician, even though they both lead agencies subject to legislation and a budget appropriation.

And we should insist the Reserve Bank justify its actions to taxpayers, whose money it lends to others without informing them.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

Posted in Budget, Economics and economy, Guest Post, Rafe | 19 Comments

New Liberty Quote

Simply magnificent:

… after a succession of governments intent on proving that their word is their junk bond, any voters who aren’t jaded should have their pulse checked.

Henry Ergas

Posted in Site News | 19 Comments

Monday Forum: July 25, 2016

Posted in Open Forum | 1,686 Comments

Liberal Party is paying the price for letting Labor set the rules

Today in The Australian
The trouble with voters in western Sydney, pollster Mark Textor appar­ently told the Liberal partyroom when it met last week to consider the election campaign, is their “entrenched cynicism”.

Posted in Uncategorized | 46 Comments

“not in it for money” so nice guys finish last

Andrew Leigh is having to take a pay cut:

Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen says his colleague Andrew Leigh is “not in the job for the money” after the shadow assistant treasurer was demoted in the ministry reshuffle and dealt a $40,000 pay cut, despite having his responsibilities increased.

I’m calling “Bullshit”.

I have no doubt that Andrew Leigh is happy to continue working on the ALP frontbench even if he has to take a $40,000 pay cut. He is a policy-wonk and is living the dream. In one sense that means the $40,000 is an old-fashioned rent – he will continue working despite being paid less (that was the logic of the 2010 mining tax). But that isn’t what is happening here.

[Bill Shorten] stepped in to save Kim Carr from being dumped after the party’s Left faction voted not to include the veteran Victorian in its list of candidates, demoting the unaligned Mr Leigh as a result of the intervention.

It seems that Kim Carr is in it for the money – Shorten could have kept Carr in his shadow cabinet but at the back bencher salary and not Andrew Leigh.

While this confirms the view that nice finish last but it also reflects poorly on Shorten.

He is unable to make tough decisions on appointments. He has rely on personal sacrifice to put a decent economics team. He has kept Carr in the shadow cabinet despite his own faction dumping him. Carr as shadow innovation minister simply demonstates that it is who you know that determines outcomes. This undermines any argument that ALP wants to make about rewarding effort and initiative.

I’m sure Andrew will be putting a brave face on this decision, but it must burn that the ALP would rather pay to keep a dinosaur in the shadow cabinet than him.

Posted in Economics and economy, Hypocrisy of progressives | 51 Comments

For the record

Miranda Devine has an op-ed talking about the latest Safe Schools Coalition scandal:

THE story of Cheltenham Girls High School is a textbook example of the subterfuge involved in the controversial Safe Schools Coalition and how far education authorities and governments will go to preserve and conceal a program that subverts parents rights and values.

It is worth forensically examining how a school and a minister attempted to discredit a true story last week, how some media outlets gullibly accepted official denials, and how a group of courageous parents and teachers defied the cover-up anonymously to voice their concerns.

The fear felt by the whistleblowers, and the secrecy and euphemisms employed to disguise the true nature of the Safe Schools agenda really is of Orwellian proportions.

It all began last week with our story of how teachers at the all-girls school in northwest Sydney were asked in a staff meeting to stop referring to students as “girls”, ladies” and “women”, but to use “gender-neutral” language instead.

So we all saw the story but what caught my attention was this:

All week, the NSW Minister for education Adrian Piccoli and school principal Bridge have denied our story and denied that CGHS is a member of the Safe Schools Coalition. This is despite the fact the CGHS was listed on the public register of NSW member schools on the Safe Schools Coalition’s website, but parents were never informed.

Mysteriously, that list of 135 NSW schools vanished from the website on July 8, so parents can no longer see if their children’s school has signed up. Thus far, member schools in Victoria and WA remain on the website.

I checked – the list of NSW member schools is not available on the Safe Schools Coalition website.

So for NSW parents here is the list as at 24 July 2015. Since that time more schools may have joined.

Albury High School
Alexandria Park Community School
Bellingen High
Belmont High School
Blaxland High School
Brunswick Heads Public School
Bulahdelah Central School
Burwood Girls High
Canterbury Girls High School
Carlingford High School
Cheltenham Girls High School
Colo High School
Dubbo College South Campus
Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design
Evans River Community School
Fort Street High School
Glen Innes High School
Gloucester High School
Gorokan High School
Gosford High School
Great Lakes College – Forster Campus
Homebush Boys High School
Hunter School Of The Performing Arts
Hurlstone Agricultural High School
International Grammar School
Inverell High School
James Fallon High School
James Meehan High School
Jamison High School
Kyogle High School
Lismore High School
Lismore Public School
Lucas Heights Community School
Macintyre High School
Maclean High School
Macquarie Grammar School
Marrickville West Primary School
Merriwa Central School
Mount View High School
Mullumbimby High School
Murray High School
Muswellbrook High School
Narrabri High School
New England Girls’ School
Newtown High School Of The Performing Arts
North Sydney Boys High School
North Sydney Girls High School
Orange High School
Parramatta High School
Penrith High
Rose Bay Secondary College
Shoalhaven High School
Singleton High School
South Grafton High School
St Marys Senior High School
Sydney Secondary College: Leichhardt Campus
Sydney Technical High School
Tamworth High School
Tamworth Public School
Tempe High School
The Forest High School
Trangie Central School
Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College – The Entrance Campus
Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College – Tumbi Umbi Campus
Tumut High School
Vincentia High School
Wadalba Community School
Wee Waa High School
Wellington High School
Wilsons Creek Public School
Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts
Woonona High School
Wyong High School

Posted in Education, Hypocrisy of progressives | 42 Comments

The Turnbull fallacy

Malcolm was of the opinion that, given his own personal estimate that he was more likely to win the coming election, he therefore had a right and a duty to depose a sitting Prime Minister. The only question in his mind, as he articulated his rationale, was to ensure a Coalition victory at the coming election. Values? Political morality? Vision and direction? None were part of his stated objectives, although for the rest of us, his transparently far-to-the-left-of-centre views were his genuine motivation. He would become PM and bring about all of those great centralising ideas that have worked so well everywhere they have been tried. How successful his electoral strategy has been is there for anyone to see.

Which brings me to this posting by LQC three days before the Presidential election in 2012. We don’t vote in Australia for the American president, by that stage the die was certainly almost cast, but as you can see, the biggest flaw in Romney was that he was not going to win:

I have grave misgivings about a Romney presidency. While I am in full agreement with Steve Kates and most Catallaxy readers about the appalling Obama presidency, I fear that Romney is the most protectionist Republican candidate in history. Perhaps even the most protectionist presidential candidate in history. His pronouncements have been exclusively about an insular US, fear of China, and “protecting jobs”. Where is the vision for an open economy? In truth Romney is a died in the wool mercantalist.

A Romney administration promises cuts in Government spending – which I applaud – but probably a less efficient tax system. Most fundamentally, a Romney administration would put up the shutters and move to a ‘self sufficient’ United States. That would be a disaster for the US and a disaster for the world.

Anyone who has read my musings will recognise a pretty conservative and right-wing leaning. But I have a lexicographical preference for free trade and a free market.

I fear that Romney will make the US market less free than he would inherit from Obama. Perhaps the BBC poll that Steve cites [that only 6% of Australians would vote for Romney] is right for the wrong reasons: supporting Obama because he is less bad than the alternative?

From Steve’s perspective it is probably fortunate I don’t get to vote. But can anyone – please – give me one reason to vote for Romney rather than against Obama? In my recent post I wrote

Obama does not deserve a second term

That is true, but does Romney deserve a first term? I suspect not.

If I were voting, it would be for a write-in candidate. But it doesn’t really matter, as I still think Obama will win with around 332 electoral votes against Romney’s 206. When the GOP chose Romney, they voted for an Obama victory.

His standard is whether someone can be elected. And in that same vein he asks me to apologise for traducing his fine reputation based on his certainty that Hillary will win, which at least with Trump is by no means a certainty. As he now writes:

By the way Steve, I would appreciate an apology if Clinton is elected. I’ve said on both occasions that the GOP candidate would never be elected and you keep calling me a fool.

As for the rest of you: I have never said I liked Obama or Clinton. Quite the contrary.

Both Romney and Trump are unelectable. Romney would have made a good president. Trump would be a disgrace and disaster.

It is certainly new to hear from LQC what a good president Romney would have been. And just who might that candidate have been in 2012 who would have won instead? And it is ludicrous to think that Rubio – his choice this time – would not have been crushed by the Clinton machine. Last time, at least, he didn’t say vote for Obama. This time he does say vote for Hillary.

No one has to tell me what a dangerous choice Trump is or that he is less than evens to win given the media’s role in the US. But to prefer Hillary shows you are no conservative and puts you on the left.

Posted in American politics | 52 Comments