The destructive effects of the imperialism of politics

My piece in today’s Herald Sun (“Spend plenty to buy nothing” subscription required) addresses the measures Australian governments are taking to prevent people producing things and earning income for themselves (much of which would also be syphoned-off by governments and used as bribes to secure their re-election).

It notes the NSW Baird government got away with spending only $220 million of taxpayers’ funds to stop a coal mine, thus deflecting the hysteria that Alan Jones was whipping up. This is small beer in comparison to the $1 billion plus that Dan Andrews’s Victorian government spent to prevent a road being built, thereby placating his union financiers who were worried that the EastWest Link’s high-productivity workplace agreement would seriously reduce their influence. And that, in turn, is a cheap deal compared with the $50 billion, squandered to secure two seats, on over-priced submarines that are too slow and short range for Australia’s needs.

The spending to prevent the NSW BHP Caroona (thanks Todd) coal mine was allegedly to avoid using up some wonderful agricultural land that was threatened by a tiny development that would return 100 fold the income of any agricultural activity and, being underground, would not have even inconvenienced the farming.  Agriculture itself is a major loser from these processes.  I pointed out

In a process started almost 10 years ago, John Howard and his then newly minted environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, were panicked by the “millennial” drought into accepting gibberish about climate change permanently reducing flows down the Murray Darling.

The Murray Darling river system is the basis of Australian irrigated agriculture and the basin’s farms were responsible for 40 per cent of national agricultural output. Howard produced a “10 Point Plan” for restraining water use. Other politicians have built upon this with water buy-backs that have reduced the irrigators’ high security water by two sevenths.

The “millennial” drought, like all others in this continent of highly variable weather patterns, was soon to prove temporary. But regulatory measures once introduced always outlive their purpose.

And this week the Queensland Labor government as a willing accomplice of green income destruction has sought to prevent agricultural expansion in the state. Fortuitously this is being halted, at least temporarily, by a renegade Labor politician and by the fact that aboriginal producers would be hard hit by the proposed measures. (As is also demostrated by their, so far successful, attempts to prevent the Adani coal mine from proceeding, the green activists and their monied supporters care little for aboriginal job creation).

The Herald Sun article finishes with

Unfortunately, our politicians have shifted from being mere irritants to the income producing process to lightning rods that suppress business opportunities on behalf of interest groups and faddists. And politicians, despite their deregulatory statements, seem unable to reverse course.

Politicians spout from one side of their mouths about how we will tap new technology and better use our resources and skills to tap into the burgeoning markets overseas. But it is the other side of their mouths where the real action is. Politics will never enhance technological development only retard it. But it is powerful in preventing the productive process taking place.

It is doubtful that many politicians will feel any shame at the outcome of their policies. We seem to have come to a governance structure where majority political alliances are formed and these take control over decisions that were constitutionally intended to be individually taken. This is the new red tape and tax-taking socialism and its effects are grinding down productivity.

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65 Responses to The destructive effects of the imperialism of politics

  1. Tintarella di Luna

    Every government-mandated low-flow toilet, phosphorous-free dishwasher detergent, CFL light bulb, and carbon-emission regulation is another obstacle on the way to a productive, job-creating economy that produces things consumers really want.

    Andy Kessler

    As I was reading Alan Moran’s article this quote came up. Ideas must never be taken to government, they will set a committee of talentless wonks which will kill it stone dead.

  2. mark

    ….but will it sink in and strike a chord in the sheeple brain? The green blob thrives on sheeple living in ivory towers in inner cities, totally disconnected from reality. Even my own mum suffers from the media disease.

  3. OneWorldGovernment

    Alan,

    Like pearls before swine.

  4. Todd Myers

    Alan,

    The mine that the NSW government bought back was Caroona. Carmichael is the proposed Adani mine in Queensland.

  5. Herodotus

    The green/left side of politics has abandoned any pretence of being interested in encouraging rather than limiting industry, and they have, with the help of an overweaning leftoid media, dragged half of the right side further left as well.

  6. Gerry

    This article furthers my argument that the ABS census is not required to determine spending and resource allocation for government, it’s the figures from the last election (AEC) that is broken down by seats and booths and parties etc that have more impact on resource allocation.

    Bureaucrats love information but giving it to them will not make our life any better or give us a richer experience of life. I’m not sure what vital function census data provides.

  7. RobK

    “Unfortunately, our politicians have shifted from being mere irritants to the income producing process to lightning rods that suppress business opportunities on behalf of interest groups and faddists. And politicians, despite their deregulatory statements, seem unable to reverse course.”
    Indeed, this is frustrating. The delusion of de -industrialisation along with the plethora of publicly subsidized NGO interest groups wage an assault on development, self determination, property rights and individual freedom.

  8. JohnA

    It is doubtful that many politicians will feel any shame at the outcome of their policies. We seem to have come to a governance structure where majority political alliances are formed and these take control over decisions that were constitutionally intended to be individually taken. This is the new red tape and tax-taking socialism and its effects are grinding down productivity.

    Indeed true, RobK. And our frustration as electors will express itself in hung Parliaments, obstreperous Senates, wafer-thin margins until the politicians cease to be a class unto themselves, and become our servants (collectively) again.

    It is necessary to remove the image of politics as a career.

    My suggestions:
    1. Remove ALL entitlements of office, salary, electoral allowances, the golden handshakes, etc.
    2. Restrict candidates to those over the age of 40. I think the US President can’t be younger than 35 – the intention being that anyone with his hand on the button needs to have seen enough of life to think twice before pushing it
    3. Preclude anyone who has not actually worked for a living in their own business.

    My preference is more severe: they must have run a business, and actually FIRED someone face to face, to know what agonies attend that kind of thing. That will limit the field to line management types, and preclude staff hecklers (eg. lawyers, political advisers, and accountants such as myself). For Defence, I would want to have someone who has commanded a ship, flown a plane and had to eject, or had similar line authority to lead troops in action (not supply/logistics stuff).

    As a sage from a while ago warned me: “politicians go into it to do good, and end up doing very well, indeed!”

  9. Mother Lode

    Governments keep falling for the scares because they believe their voters really will panic in the way that the activists tell them.

    Unfortunately they may well be right, because the electorate has been dumbed down to the point they think that we don’t need mines because they render the land for 100’s of kms around a virtual moonscape.

    And there is no one to tell them differently.

    Well, there is us, but we are outgunned by collectivists whose natural state is in groups and totalitarians whose natural speech is to lie.

  10. AP

    The inside line on the Caroona relinquishment is that BHP was threatened with legislation if they did not take the “deal”, similar to the Nucoal legislation.

    Alan you also forgot to mention that the black soil plains were never part of the mining area, it was confined to the ridge lines which are only suitable for grazing.

    This deposit was the best undeveloped coal deposit in NSW, and BHP had spent an absolute fortune on it. There is over a billion tonnes of low ash thermal and semi soft coking coal, with a mineable reserve of several hundred million tonnes. The project life could have been >50 years.

    The Baird government is a serious sovereign risk.

  11. destroyer D69

    The census provides information that is marketed to interested parties for commercial purposes. Ask the ABS what their Integrated Regional database RRP $1500 has to do with the provision of Govt services./( Promoted at the Portraits Of Planning conference Adelaide 24-26 July 1995 by the ABS themselves) This would allow almost total access to all census data, and, with some prior information from the public domain, individual information could be extracted.

  12. AP

    The other thing is that miners make some of the best partners for serious farmers. There are any number of examples throughout the state, for example the Bobadeen irrigation scheme out at Ulan or Aytula Olives in the Hunter Valley. I know of another mining project where farm productivities have been increased 500% over a land holding of roughly a couple of thousand hectares, since they purchased the land off the absentee Pitt St farmers.

    The other little known fact, according to the Federal Government’s own figures is that the gross value add per gigalitre of water use is: $4m from farming; and $226m from mining. That’s only 56x difference.

    Scroll to the bottom.

  13. Dr Faustus

    A bit of good news in Qld at least.

    Also good news that Ms Trad has had her arse kicked. She is being positioned as next Qld ALP Leader after the low-wattage Palaszczuk falls under the bus.

  14. Bruce of Newcastle

    It notes the NSW Baird government got away with spending only $220 million of taxpayers’ funds to stop a coal mine

    And another $125 million pissed against the wall today. Soon it will be serious money!

    Mike Baird’s $125m lure for corporate HQs to change states ($)

  15. goatjam

    This country is a cesspit and if there was any justice at all its political class would be up against the wall without blindfolds.

  16. jupes

    Good article Alan. Keep them coming.

    It disgusts me how this far into the scam, that climate change is still an article of faith among almost all politicians.

    Thank goodness Malcolm Roberts got himself elected.

  17. Diogenes

    It notes the NSW Baird government got away with spending only $220 million of taxpayers’ funds to stop a coal mine

    Things are not looking good for the Wallarah 2 mine proposed for the Warnervale area either.

  18. Megan

    Sad, but oh so true. And no one with the intelligence or skills to turn things around.

  19. gabrianga

    Warning signs of politicians opposing development in Australia, in my opinion, commenced when Fraser used the N.T. as the “test bed” for Land Rights in the N.T. which gave a minority group the right to veto development over “their” land and any land “under claim” by them.

    The Greens and Left Wing Labor clung and are still clinging to this Act as a major weapon in halting development.

    Such a “beneficial” Act that it was never applied to any other State or Territory with the story that Hawke blasted the Minister responsible, Holding, for even suggesting a “trial run” in W.A.

    Red, green and black tape ? Formidable.

  20. Roger

    All of which at least partly explains why Macedonia rates higher than Australia in the World Bank’s current Ease of Doing Business index. Macedonia! Not to mention New Zealand.

  21. Roger

    Red, green and black tape ? Formidable.

    Just ask Adani about their experience in Qld.

    Federal Court decision re native title today.

  22. Rabz

    Bureaucrats love information but giving it to them will not make our life any better or give us a richer experience of life.

    As Murray Rothbard pointed out way back in 1961.

  23. Joe

    Company management can’t think for all the MBA’s they have.

    Look, it’s simple, buy the land surrounding the project to such an extent that only one or two individuals are left to protest. It’s the farmers collective voice, encouraged by the greens, that panic the politicians.
    Then form an agricultural company to run the acquired farms. Win – Win.

    Better to spend the multi-million dollars on land acquisition than useless piles of environmental impact statements.

    If it were me doing the lobbying, I would lobby govt. to change the environmental impact laws to only allow land owners to request an impact statement from the developer. Again win – win, if you buy up the land you don’t need to provide an impact statement.

  24. AP

    Look, it’s simple, buy the land surrounding the project to such an extent that only one or two individuals are left to protest. It’s the farmers collective voice, encouraged by the greens, that panic the politicians.

    I know one project that even had an application to drill on their own land rejected by the government. Another project has a bunch of people who live over 4km away from the nearest proposed project infrastructure protesting in front of parliament. How much land exactly does that project need to buy?

    The real problem is that the government has made project approvals timeframes blow out to 4 years (previously 12 months) allowing activists a long time launch a concerted and organised campaign, often involving lies and disinformation that are almost impossible to counter, because defamation laws do not apply to companies.

  25. Rayzor

    As one with an interest in Bible prophecy my mind travels to where all of this garbage will progress to. It seems relatively apparant that one cannot have a prosperous world without a productive society. After all it is the size of the cake and the means of distribution which decide the happy existence of those who think utopia resides in the social collective. But if the collective produces inefficiently or not at all then the cake is very small which drives usually a very imbalanced distribution. = Venezuela.

    Will this occcur on a global scale?

  26. Norman Church

    Whilst Alan should get a medal for his efforts, the halls of power are occupied by green-Marxists and venal, blinkered, pig-ignorant career politicians. Neither the media nor the academy are any bettter. On the contrary, the overwhelmng majority would not know their arses from their elbows. The country is in serious trouble.

  27. RobK

    “Look, it’s simple, buy the land surrounding the project “
    Unfortunately property rights have already been usurped to the extent that such a plan would not guarantee any positive environmental regulatory outcome.

  28. hzhousewife

    I know one project that even had an application to drill on their own land rejected by the government. Another project has a bunch of people who live over 4km away from the nearest proposed project infrastructure protesting in front of parliament.

    Yesterday’s Weekly Times: Victorian goldfield site, $900,000 compensation for loss of biodiversity value is sought from prospectors because there “might” be an orchid there. Said orchid does exist 7 kilometres away, but hasn’t been seen at this site for over 100 years, but the land is a “potential habitat”. By this reasoning the whole of Victoria will be closed down in the near future.

  29. incoherent rambler

    The next regulation to impose on farmers will be a permit to did a fence post hole. One permit per hole (of course). Accompanied by the appropriate Environmental Impact Statement (per hole).

    Ownership by the state of what is underneath freehold land has to go. Property rights should be just that.

    If we imagine for a moment that AJ discovered that his property was sitting on top of a $40 billion solid GOLD seam. The twists and turns would be awesome.

  30. Joe

    If it were me doing the lobbying, I would lobby govt. to change the environmental impact laws to only allow land owners to request an impact statement from the developer. Again win – win, if you buy up the land you don’t need to provide an impact statement.

    See above.
    Resource companies have to get into the game if they want to survive. Lobby politicians! We are all political now. Lobby for slight changes that can be placed in other bills to hide them. For example to tighten up just who can sue for loss of biodiversity.

  31. John Constantine

    Their shortfilth promises over riding federal legislation to pay government employees to help and save all the trees.

    National farmers federation (occupied and firmly part of those inside the sob bubble) comes out pushing for rural Australia to get their fair share of refugees, and the cash flow that comes along with the big settlement industry setting up in an area, where socialism sets up its welfare plantations to produce profit streams and votefodder.

  32. thefrollickingmole

    People are too stupid.
    I pointed out at the Gruinaid yesterday that one of the biggest barriers to “social mobility” was the proliferation of licences and tickets for positions which dont need them or were “learn on the job”.

    The rebuttal back was these tickets were good because those with them could get a few extra dollars pay because of the limited numbers of ticketholders.

    I cant even think of how to dumb my answer down enough to reply to that.

  33. John Constantine

    Big Australia does not want dirty patriarchal jobs in big mining and big agriculture.

    Big Australia wants nice, clean, helping and.saving jobs in their big settlement plantation welfare industrial complex.

  34. Stackja

    The Australian political class does not want progress by Australia but want to sell out to overseas political classes.

  35. Dozer

    “Look, it’s simple, buy the land surrounding the project “

    It seems to be not that simple. The problem stems from the fact that there is no national standard for just terms within the various states mining acts.

  36. Joe

    It seems to be not that simple. The problem stems from the fact that there is no national standard for just terms within the various states mining acts.

    What are “just terms” and who decides them?

  37. incoherent rambler

    What are “just terms” and who decides them?

    “Just a minute” versus “as in justice”.

    “Just terms” means “only terms”. Meaningless.

  38. Diogenes

    For some reason I can see a cartoon of a sailing ship, Glen Stevens & the RBA blowing the sails with all their might, whilst the government, is throwing more anchors over the side.

  39. Dozer

    What are “just terms” and who decides them?

    The Spencer Principle (standard) and the High Court (arbiter). The Spencer Principle

    The fact still remains that there is no national standard binding the States.

  40. Stackja

    IR – just terms is a politcal class salve for the dispossessed.

  41. Stackja

    Dozer – Spencer book used as prop in movie about KGB.

  42. AP

    The next regulation to impose on farmers will be a permit to did a fence post hole. One permit per hole (of course). Accompanied by the appropriate Environmental Impact Statement (per hole).

    That already exists, it is called “Dial Before You Dig”.

  43. zyconoclast

    The next regulation to impose on farmers will be a permit to did a fence post hole. One permit per hole (of course). Accompanied by the appropriate Environmental Impact Statement (per hole).

    That already exists, it is called “Dial Before You Dig”.

    Dial before you dig is potentially useful.
    The EIS are not at all useful. In fact are harmful, expensive and time consuming?

  44. Stackja

    Z – farmers disturbing worms must be stopped.

  45. OneWorldGovernment

    Wishful thinking department.

    I actually wish ALL the miners in Australia would just stop, even for 6 months.

    And the coal and gas fired power generators.

    And if any Australian is serious about ‘bio-diversity’ then they should be agitating to bulldoze every capital city into the sea. Think of the fish, think of the quokas.

  46. AP

    Dial before you dig is potentially useful.

    no it isn’t, because they don’t accurately record the locations of the services. Especially Telstra, who can be out by hundreds of metres in my direct experience.

  47. old bloke

    Why does the National Party continue to support the Liberals? Shouldn’t the Nationals support development projects such as the coal mine to encourage employment and economic benefits amongst its base? Likewise, why didn’t the Nationals object to the disastrous Murray Darling Basin plan which hurt its voters?

    Why are the Nationals so quiet on these issues?

  48. OneWorldGovernment

    old bloke
    #2123307, posted on August 19, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Why does the National Party continue to support the Liberals? Shouldn’t the Nationals support development projects such as the coal mine to encourage employment and economic benefits amongst its base? Likewise, why didn’t the Nationals object to the disastrous Murray Darling Basin plan which hurt its voters?

    Why are the Nationals so quiet on these issues?

    The stated aim when they went from Country Party to The Nationals was to expand their base in the ‘latte left’ cities and towns.

    Now they stand for nothing like their coalition partners, the former Liberal Party of Australia.

  49. AP

    Some other things I find ridiculous:

    – A heritage item can be listed on the state heritage register and be described as being “state significant”, but this does not mean it is a state significant heritage item.
    -An “endangered ecological community” doesn’t need to contain a single endangered species
    -“Potential habitat” (where no critters are found) has the same required offset value as actual habitat
    -I know of one species of endangered tree in NSW, which is actually an invasive species in Victoria
    -Stygofauna (which are micro organisms that live below ground in rocks) are considered significant enough to halt projects
    -Solastalgia is a term that was invented to describe a “loss of sense of place” has stopped projects, despite this impact being entirely self-defined by opponents.

  50. OWG;

    I actually wish ALL the miners in Australia would just stop, even for 6 months.

    And the coal and gas fired power generators.

    The coal and Gas power boys only need to stop for two weeks to cause riots.
    Remember the gas outage in Melbourne about fifteen years ago?

  51. …or maybe it was Adelaide last week.

  52. Davefromweewaa

    Allan, it is all very well pointing out the relative values of farming versus mining. Unless the benefit to the landowners outweighs the harm they won’t support it. The easiest way to make that happen is Jed Clampett, Beverly Hillbilly style freehold title. That would immediately end the unholy alliance between farmers and greenies. You really should reconsider your opposition to it or suggest another way of making the benefit outweigh the harm.

  53. Y remember.
    It was in Weewaa. In 1934, Dave told me.

  54. Empire

    People are too stupid.
    I pointed out at the Gruinaid yesterday that one of the biggest barriers to “social mobility” was the proliferation of licences and tickets for positions which dont need them or were “learn on the job”.

    The rebuttal back was these tickets were good because those with them could get a few extra dollars pay because of the limited numbers of ticketholders.

    I cant even think of how to dumb my answer down enough to reply to that.

    A few dollars more for the ticket-holder is a few less for someone else. Why do they back the ticket-holder? Why are they so unfair?

  55. Tel

    The easiest way to make that happen is Jed Clampett, Beverly Hillbilly style freehold title.

    That requires a substantial change to the title system, anyway if farms could get true freehold title people would go any build cities on them.

    Easier is just to say that the farmer owns the top 6 feet (which is the existing system I believe) and if the mine disturbs the top 6 feet of dirt then the farmer automatically gets veto rights … no change to existing title.

  56. Tel

    The EIS are not at all useful. In fact are harmful, expensive and time consuming?

    Would there be money in a website that allows you to churn out a boilerplate EIS based on some fill in the blanks details? It could email back a 40 page PDF or something, kind of like the random thesis generator.

  57. Damn.
    This is what happens when you start drinking early on a Monday – then you discover that it’s Friday, of last week.
    IIRC, the Coal and Gas workers went on strike in Darwin in 1784.
    Society went to shit until the early 1940s.
    Then it got worse…

  58. Goody. Some bloggers to play with.
    This has been the most boring OT I can remember.

  59. JohnA

    Winston Smith #2123400, posted on August 19, 2016, at 4:09 pm

    OWG;

    I actually wish ALL the miners in Australia would just stop, even for 6 months.

    And the coal and gas fired power generators.

    The coal and Gas power boys only need to stop for two weeks to cause riots.
    Remember the gas outage in Melbourne about fifteen years ago?

    It was 1998, so a bit more than 15 years, and excellent practice for Y2K.

    We discovered that we could be civilized, but as long as we only lost one of the three essential utilities (water, gas, electricity, all reticulated, unlike beer and petrol) we could survive. No riots.

  60. Jeremy

    We must recognise that this sort of argument is not about Agriculture versus coal, but access to the rail lines. There is plenty of coal all over non-productive areas of Australia, but rail lines have been built to service the best agricultural areas. Coal mines are only viable where there is cheap transport. If we don’t want to mine coal in good agricultural areas we must build rail lines to areas where there is coal but no agriculture.

  61. Jeremy, that’s an interesting point. The ‘but’ in this is that State governments refuse to build infrastructure and the coal miners have seen what happened in WA, where the lines the iron ore miners built were made to carry competitors product.
    Sovereign risk is a big part of why infrastructure isn’t happening.

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