Monday, June 21, 2004
The truth about the conservatives
As it's getting closer and closer to the election, I thought I'd set the record straight on what the conservatives in this country really stand for. First we need to look at their key constituency, that is, big business in Australia. The old industry, the old money - the business that has grown rich on Australia's past and natural bounty. The business that clings to the status quo to protect itself, the business that's afraid of change and afraid of competition. The conservatives are old business's protectors, the foot soldiers of moral indignation who resist change at all costs. Aid to Australia's old business has flowed freely since the conservatives got hold of the reigns. Just look at the health rebate and the latest energy 'policy'. It is the protection of big business is what is holding back Australia and her economy. Without the active stimulus of new industries through R&D and other measures, we will never achieve our true potential as a country, leading the world in innovative industries and the arts.
Secondly, the conservatives stand for power politics, especially in international relations. Conservatives have lived their ultimate dream through the conquest of Iraq, where they have gone to war without even a proper reason, only the chance or guess of a threat and been able to snub the UN at the same time. By ignoring those in the international community who cautioned against the war in Iraq, we have seen an insurgency that is costing many lives unnecessarily and the loss of moral leadership of western countries through the horrible images of Abu Grahib. Playing power politics at the level of current conservative governments is extremely divisive and as we have seen, creates more problems than it is supposed to solve.
Conservatives also display the curious dichotomy of champions of liberty and moral guardians of the people. The conservatives will wax lyrical about the importance of freedom and in the same breath shout down any notion of society that offends moral 'values' - especially those defined by conservatives. Take for example the recent debate on fast food - Labor sensibly proposes to ban advertising fast food to children. Unacceptably Orwellian according to a government who can't stand the sight of two lesbians on Play School.
So we can see, conservatives really don't stand for any thing at all accept timid protection of their mates in big business, their self serving brothers in the international community who despise multilateralism, libertarians and moral prudes. They only real goal they have is to win control at all costs. Not a recipe for fantastic leadership of a progressive and dynamic country that Australia truly deserves to be.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Securing Australia's Polluting Future
Today, John Howard released the government's energy policy "Securing Australia's Energy Future". Once the detail has been absorbed, the only future that really has been assured is the fossil fuel industry, especially the coal industry. In a move that seems cynical at best and stupid at worst, the government plans to subsidise fossil fuel users - that's right - fossil fuel users. I admit I haven't read the government propaganda but I cannot get my head around this one. In the nearly two decades of environmental debate, I cannot remember hearing how measure would protect the environment.
There's a huge sum of money to allegedly help the coal industry use geo-sequestration to pump carbon-dioxide gas underground and therefore prevent it from entering the atmosphere. While this sounds like a great idea and would allow the continuation of fossil fuel for energy - there is no real plan or incentive for Australian Industry to build a truly renewable energy industry - or even transition to one. The failure of the government to raise the MRET to beyond its paltry present value reveals the true intentions of the government - protect the status-quo, your mates in the industry and get elected by whatever means possible.
A true energy policy would increase the MRET value to as high as possible (say 5-10%) to encourage a renewable energy industry to develop as sustainably as possible. Money for geo-sequestration research should also be matched by real R&D dollars for renewable energy alternatives. The blatant tax subsidies for off-road fuel usage and 'big-petrol trucks' should be stopped and directed towards better policy initiatives. Once again, the party that champions competition and free-enterprise has used it's advantage in government to aid its mates in the fossil fuel industry to help prop up what is ultimately a doomed enterprise. What's worse, it all reads like a cynical re-run of US energy policy as proposed by George W Bush.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Clearing the Decks
Well, David Flint has finally resigned - hooray. But not after a cynically stubborn period where he refused to quit - funny how this wait allows dear David a pay rise that dramatically increases his final payout - AND he denies that he even knew about the pay rise, oh yeah David, sure. I don't know about the rest of the salary slaves out there, but if I'm going to get even a paltry rise in my salary, I sure as hell know about it and wait for it. The wacky professor's will only jump by about $10000 - so he won't even notice it in his $257000 salary.
The departure of Flinty will also neutralise a potentially sticky issue for the PM in an election year. Just another sign that the Coalition are clearing the decks for an election sometime soon - this blog reckons the August 7 poll date may still be a goer despite some other soothsayers out there. My reasoning for this is two-fold. Firstly, the recent poll bounce - if this is sustained over the next Newspoll or two, August 7 will be a dead cert. Secondly, I don't think Johnny will want to be on the hustings while a US election is going on. The election campaign of GWB is sure to stir all sorts of emotions up in the Aussie electorate - most of them bad for the PM who is probably the closest national leader to Bush in terms of support and ideology.
Keep an eye on the polls... August 7 is just around the corner.
Friday, June 04, 2004
They've done it again....
Check out the Oz's front page. Howard & Co have misled us again - I wonder who is going to accept responsibility this time? Clearly, this is now becoming more than a few coincidences and a ministerial sacking is now in order.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Road to Surfdom is encouraging a debate on the upcoming election and I thought I'd join in.
Usually this blog tries to remain relatively neutral but in this post I'll come clean and put the case for voting Labor. Why? First of all I don't think John Howard belongs in the top job - I don't believe he represents the average Australian and how they believe the country should be run. John Howard has consistently shown himself to be an opportunist, shamelessly using either racism, xenophobia, moral puritism or just plain fear to argue his case. This does not represent the open and courageous Australia that I know.
The Coalition relentlessly push the line that they are the only ones to be trusted with the national economy. This is complete rubbish. The Tories are lacking in any real courage in economic reform - the real heavy lifting was done by the Hawke-Keating Governments who opened the economy by floating the dollar, reducing tariffs and other ground breaking reform. It was these changes that have set up Australia's remarkable economic performance. What has the Coalition done? They introduced the GST, reduced company tax and now have desperately fiddled with tax thresholds before the election. Despite this they have ripped the most tax out of Australians than any other government and have presided over the largest accumulation of private debt ever. They have let the economy slide along, with no new initiatives for industry or any effective encouragement for business to invest in research and development.
The other piece of Coalition propaganda is the line that they are the only ones to be trusted when it comes to national security. Again, history has shown that Labor does the hard yards. It was Labor who guided Australia through World War II and wedded us to America as a new security partner. Farsighted security policy also opened up relations with China and rejected the Vietnam War. The Coalition have shown that it does not have any real policy other than to aid America when there is a conservative administration. The Coalition have also scared the living daylights out of the public service because John Howard has re-written the rules so that ministers no longer take the blame when things go wrong - in fact they know next to nothing about anything bad in their departments.
I also think Labor has a better grip on education and health and are genuinely more interested in giving all Australians these things, not just those who can pay.
So there you are - my dummy spit for a Thursday night - it mightn't be all that coherent but at least I feel better!
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Hi there, Jock's back after spending a very nice week and a bit on holidays with only minimal net exposure.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Let's get real
I must be addicted to blogging or I wouldn't take the time to write a post on holidays...
Just a quick one to point the excellent article by Paul Kelly in the Oz summarising Anthony Cordesman's submission to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This points out a few home truths for he US in Iraq and spells out a realisitic stance thet neither the ideological left or right can currently implement. It calls for a practical solution to Iraq, with Iraqis deciding on their fate through the support of the UN underpinned by US military and economic aid. What is most encouraging is the stance that Iraq be made to take responsibility for their country and make it clear that the world will walk away if they descend into a totalitarian regime.
It also paints a future that will be challanged by terrorism and small but important regional conficts or situations that will be need to be addressed with a range of tools, not just military.
Paul Kelly then asks how Australia is positioned to face this new world. In my opinion, not at all. Just listening to rhetoric of the PM at his recent Institute of Public Affairs speech makes your heart sink. Australia is signed up as a fully paid neo-con subscriber, even as the US is rapidly changeing its stance. It reveals the Australia's foreign policy is little more than a reflection or best guess at what our dear and powerful friend might like to hear. This is dangerous and completely leaves Australia at the mercy of events in the South East Asian region rather than facing them with Australia's best interests at heart, rather than the US.