Cherish our Children!

At Christmas we honour a baby, the baby Jesus, and symbolically heaven’s most precious gift to mankind, our children.

Let us delight them this day, remembering that our love and nurturing care are our greatest gifts to them.

They are our future. They can enrich our lives and have the potential with our guidance to open up new horizons for the good of the world, if we will but enable their burgeoning genius.

Enjoy, not exploit and abuse them! They are at our mercy!

Posted in Community Issues

A missed opportunity for unity of energy policy

When NSW’s Energy Minister Don Harwin called on the Federal Minister Angus Taylor at the COAG energy meeting in Adelaide this week to add an emission obligation to the agenda for discussion, it was resolutely blocked.

Angus Taylor after the meeting expressed satisfaction that he had been able to maintain a steely focus on energy reliability and price, without the distraction of arguing over emission targets. However his stubborn negativity, is not helping the Coalition’s chance of re-election next year.

It has not been the change of Prime Ministers per se that has turned voters off the Coalition. What moderates are up in arms about, more than anything else, is the dismantling of three times approved Liberal Policy on Climate Change, based on the best available scientific advice, to ensure that Australia’s energy production meets appropriate standards for both reliability and emissions control.

The public is concerned when there are temperatures in excess of 40 degrees in April and November, droughts of increasing severity, lasting 6-7 years, bush-fires before and after the usual bush-fire season, and simultaneous flooding rains and cyclones in others parts of the country.

Tony Abbott’s categorisation of climate change science as “absolute crap”, and his derisive comments directed at those who take climate change seriously have not yet been forgotten.

Don Harwin’s position has gone a long way to improving the NSW Coalition’s prospects at the March 23 2019 election. But there is another reason why if Angus Taylor is really concerned for Australia’s future he would have encouraged debate on emissions.

The Business Council of Australia commended Don Harwin for his stance, and has pointed out the need for certainty as to how emissions will be treated, before business makes major long-term investment decisions. Both the States and Labor have expressed a willingness to unite on energy policy to provide that certainty for business, but to their shame, the Coalition under Scott Morrison will have none of it.

Not only has the Coalition no emission reduction target, and thus does not require power companies to reduce carbon emissions, but they also have an intent to ramp-up Coal Mining, for both export and local use, and to deliver new government subsidised coal-fired power stations.

The selling pitch to consumers is cheaper electricity prices delivered by screwing company profits.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Dean of Climate Change!

Don’t expect accurate investigative journalistic comment from Rowan Dean. After all, he is  just an entertainer, with a quick and acerbic wit, always at the expense of others, never himself.  Does one laugh at his absurdities or kill his diatribes by switching channels?

Last night (12/12/2018) I happened on his Sky News “Outsider” Program and was so mesmerised by his merciless put-down of those poor builders of wood boats, South Sea Islanders who were fearful of the effects of climate change on their low-lying coral atolls, that I could not bring myself to switch him off. 

Rowan, however, was most reassuring of their plight. He had an authority with first-hand experience of their situation who could put their minds at rest.  Yes it was none other than the former Minister of International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fieravanti-Wells. On her return from Fiji she had reported to him that if there was any change, it was miniscule.

It was not stated whether her opinion was based on tide gauge data, satellite observation of sea-levels, or simply on the basis of eye-balling of coastal areas. Nor was there any comment made on where the observations were made. 

A graph, posted on NASA’s Global Change website, using tide gauge data, credited to the CSIRO, shows there was an increase in sea level of about 230mm or 9.13 inches between 1870 and 2000.

data graph




Another graph derived from satellite sea level Data between 1993 and August 2018,  supplied by NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre shows an increase of just over 40 mm; the average rate of change being 3.2 mm per year. 

https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/

This is a website produced by the Earth Science Communications Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology.

The ICESat-2 satellite

For those of us who would wish to be as accurately informed as possible about the impact of climate change on sea-levels, it is exciting to note that NASA now has a new tool of investigation. 

Three months ago NASA launched a satellite, ICESat-2, specifically to study changes in earth’s changing ice. 

https://sealevel.nasa.gov/news/149/icesat-2-reveals-profile-of-ice-sheets-sea-ice-forests


By Kate Ramsayer,
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Less than three months into its mission, NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, is already exceeding scientists’ expectations. The satellite is measuring the height of sea ice to within an inch, tracing the terrain of previously unmapped Antarctic valleys, surveying remote ice sheets, and peering through forest canopies and shallow coastal waters.
With each pass of the ICESat-2 satellite, the mission is adding to data sets tracking Earth’s rapidly changing ice. Researchers are ready to use the information to study sea level rise resulting from melting ice sheets and glaciers, and to improve sea ice and climate forecasts.
“ICESat-2 is going to be a fantastic tool for research and discovery, both for cryospheric sciences and other disciplines,” said Tom Neumann, ICESat-2 project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Neumann and others with ICESat-2’s science team shared the first look at the satellite’s findings at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.



 Local sea-level readings are highly variable, and influenced by many factors, including the effect of ocean currents, variations in land height, upstream flood control and erosion following deforestation.

What is incontrovertible however is an inexorable trend of globally rising sea-level with the melting if ice. We may not be able to accurately forecast future changes, but at least we are now able to monitor them with increasing accuracy, thanks to the science of space travel.  

Unfortunately for the Coalition Party, it is now controlled both in rhetoric and in policy by vocal climate change deniers. Surely it is wiser for our leaders to be acting to reduce risk, than to court disaster by ignoring the science. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Is an Independent Vote a wasted vote?

The two major parties would certainly have you think so. They argue that it is only they who can govern, and execute their agreed policies for the benefit of their support base.

On this rationale, you and I really have only these two choices,. One party that simplistically speaking, represents the “haves”, or “would be haves”. Another party that purports to champion the causes of the “have-nots” or those who are envious of the “haves”.

However within each party are extremes of approach. Politicians of both persuasions polarise themselves into right and left factions. Others, in common with many voters, dislike extremes and prefer to be called centrists or moderates.

Instead of policies being formulated and executed principally on the basis of national good, sectional financial interests frequently dominate.  

Dr Kerryn Phelps in the short time that she has been in parliament has shown an ability to look at issues objectively, on the basis of available evidence, to argue persuasively, and to initiate legislation aimed at the national interest. 

We need more not fewer such high calibre independents in our parliament, but without party support, the odds of them being elected are slim. 




Posted in Uncategorized

It’s the Environment, not the Economy, that is likely to be the main election Issue.

 The Coalition is on strong ground when it asserts its economic credentials, but the next federal election is more likely to be won by the Party that takes the threat of lasting Climate Change damage to the environment more seriously. 

It is surprising therefore that leading conservative Liberal apologist Andrew Bolt should think that world renowned Naturalist film-maker, Sir David Attenborough, speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit in coal dependent Poland, is making a fool of himself. 


Right now, we’re facing a man-made disaster of global scale,” Attenborough told delegates from almost 200 nations. “Our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
Attenborough was chosen to speak at the summit as part of the U.N.’s new “people’s seat” initiative, which encouraged citizens of the world to share their personal messages and videos explaining how climate change has already affected their lives. Several of these messages were shared as part of Attenborough’s speech today; they included footage of people standing in front of the ashen remains of their homes, which had been incinerated by wildfires. [6 Spectacular Species Named for David Attenborough]
“The world’s people have spoken,” Attenborough said. “Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now.”
This meeting of the U.N. was convened so that leaders of the world could negotiate ways to turn their pledges made at the 2015 Paris climate accord into a reality. Per the Paris accord, 184 countries agreed to implement emissions-reduction policies to help limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels over the next century. Most of the world’s nations are not on track to meet this goal; in fact, a global temperature rise of 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F) seems far more likely right now.
According to a recent U.N. climate report, even limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) this century could result in serious consequences for the planet’s cities and ecosystems. Those effects include increased flooding and severe weather around the world, the destruction of up to 90 percent of the ocean’s coral reefs, mass animal extinctions, and food shortages brought on by regular droughts. A recent U.S. climate assessment, released quietly over Thanksgiving weekend by President Donald Trump’s White House, affirmed these findings and the impending danger of climate change.
“Leaders of the world, you must lead,” Attenborough concluded. “The continuation of our civilizations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.”

https://news.yahoo.com/sir-david-attenborough-predicts-collapse-201315863.html


The Liberal Party, hijacked by the Conservatives, is misguided if it thinks ordinary Australians will accept their inactivity in the face of severe droughts, record high temperatures with bushfires, and simultaneous alarming floods, before summer even starts. In addition we are being confronted by an inexorable degradation of our coral reefs. 

This UN Climate Change Summit is hearing of similar disasters right around the world. No wonder Sir David Attenborough’s speech resonated with the attendees, if not with Andrew Bolt. 

It is shameful that the Coalition government is now not even on track to meet its considered Paris Accord Emissions Target, and is instead planning to take a “big stick” to the energy providers to drop their prices. 

Our proportion of world emission production may be small, but through energy exports we are indirectly responsible for a larger percentage of the world’s fossil fuel consumption. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Who is trying to kill whom?

Most Australians thought that the Libs had killed off Malcolm Turnbull but indefatigable conservative bogger Andrew Bolt has a different take. Turnbull fell on his sword  and resigned to plunge the Libs into disarray, and is now plotting to destroy the Liberal Party.

All because he was abandoned by his mother before he was ten. Brilliant logic Andrew! This is why there is little hope for the Libs to become a broad church again, even with Scott Morrison’s admirable efforts to keep the peace. 

WHY TURNBULL REALLY, REALLY MUST KILL THE LIBS

Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun, December 6, 2018 6:54am

” It’s now dawning on the Liberals that Malcolm Turnbull wants the Morrison Government dead. Annihilated. Murdered at the next election.

I think Turnbull isn’t just angry at being dumped as prime minister. He deeply, achingly needs the Liberals to now go down in a screaming heap.

That is what’s now behind his rampage to drive out Liberal MPs and force the Morrison Government to an early election he knows would destroy it.

That is why he refused to lift a finger to save his seat of Wentworth at last month’s by-election, but has lobbied to dump conservative MP Craig Kelly and send Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court.

That is why he is now privately consulting with Liberal enemies — new independent MP Kerryn Phelps, Liberal defector Julia Banks and even Labor leader Bill Shorten.

It seems he’s gone berserk and it stuns me that it’s taken senior Liberals this long to figure out his real game. It’s risky to perform amateur psychoanalysis but Turnbull himself has spoken several times, and movingly, of how his mother walked out on his father and him when he was not yet 10.”

https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/why-turnbull-really-really-must-kill-the-libs/news-story/6f873522d7fab2615f0dce33f3d56926

The Conservatives in parliament have been subdued since the leadership spill. They are on the defensive, fearful of losing their own seats at the next election.; but not Andrew Bolt and his ilk. After all, they are not answerable to the public, and can say whatever they chose, whether it is accurate or not. 

The protracted, and bitter tug- of war contest between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard for leadership of the Labor Party, and the Prime Ministership of Australia, was personality rather than policy driven. Time heals such disagreements, and with new rules for the election of their Leader, Labor is rejuvenated.  

The future of the Liberal Party however is less clear given the intransigence of the more religious Conservatives. Unfortunately their scruples are not restricted to issues of morality the public respects, but extend to other policies they hold with the fervour of religious creeds; issues such as climate change and racial superiority. 

It will be these policies of the Right, and their unbending triumphalist rhetoric, that could undo the Liberals at the next election, not Malcolm Turnbull.. 

Posted in Uncategorized

The Contrasting Styles of Scott Morrison and Kerryn Phelps!


Scott Morrison became the 30th Prime Minister of Australia after a leadership ballot on the 24th August 2018 bringing to a head nearly three years of factional in-fighting between the much smaller ultra-conservative wing with Right on their side, and a larger, less cohesive faction which has been derisively called the wets, but is most commonly referred to as small-l liberal.

Frustrated after unrelenting attacks on his authority from the Conservatives, culminating in rejection of the previously approved National Energy Guarantee scheme, Malcolm Turnbull called and easily won a leadership ballot. However in so doing he lost the support of some key Liberals who perceived the weakness of his position and hoped that by replacing him, it would end the bickering. 

When he vainly sought help from Newscorp chief Rupert Murdoch to end the poor press the government was receiving, he was simply told that it would not be so bad if Labor gained office for a term or two. This may be true, but it was not the response he was hoping for. Scott Morrison was the winner of the second leadership ballot but will he be able to do any better?

He does fancy his chances of winning the next election, having cockily thrown down the gauntlet to Bill Shorten, that it will be a contest between the two of them.  He has launched an electioneering charm offensive in the past three and a half months that has him well ahead of his adversary as preferred Prime Minister in the polls. With fighting words he appears to be rallying Coalition spirits. 

Disillusioning however for moderates, is his shift away from the small-l Liberal policies he had previously supported,  and unwillingness to accept any blame on the part of the federal Liberal Party for the recent Liberal loss of the Victorian State election.  He also risks being seen as a weak  leader who fails to adequately support outraged female Liberal parliamentarians who feel they have been bullied by their male colleagues.  He does at present however enjoy solid Conservative backing for the decisions he has been making.

Scott Morrison’s  loquacious and rather aggressive debating technique could be a negative for him.  Naturally he likes to trump his own views over those of others, but if he can’t, he tends to stone-wall, and to parrot off paeans of self-congratulatory praise for the superiority of Liberal economic management, without acknowledging any part Malcolm Turnbull may have played. Scare tactics if too oft repeated, may be a put-off.   

Dr Kerryn Phelps, the newly elected Independent Member for Malcolm Turnbull’s old seat of Wentworth has only just taken her place on the cross-benches of Federal Parliament but already she has introduced a needed Bill for bringing suffering refugee children and their families on Nauru back to Australia for treatment as deemed necessary by two agreeing doctors.

With her medical background and rational approach to important issues, first collecting relevant information, and then carefully evaluating each situation, she is striking a contrast to Scott Morrison’s habit of floating political policy changes before adequate consultation, and then failing to following them through.

It is refreshing to listen to her detailed and considered replies to media questions.  She is humane and practical, a role model for other parliamentarians. No wonder she appealed to so many moderate voters in the Wentworth by-election on October 20, 2018. That is not to say that Liberal candidate David Sharma is not an excellent candidate as well, (as is the Labor candidate), who may win the next election, but until then she  is setting a welcome standard of debate.  



Posted in Political debate

Spare a thought for Gladys Berejiklian

48 year old Gladys Berejiklian, has been the member for the NSW seat of Willoughby since 2003, after the retirement of former Opposition Leader Peter Collins. She has held a number of portfolios including that of State Treasurer for two years, under the previous Premier Mike Baird. When he resigned, she was elected the 45th Premier of NSW on the 23rd January 2017. .

After a short stint in Banking with the Commonwealth Bank, she had transitioned to a distinguished political career, with degrees in Arts and International Studies from Sydney University and a Masters in Commerce from the University of NSW. 

A high achieving woman in politics, the eldest of three daughters of immigrant Armenian parents, with moderate policies and a level headed personality, she has had broad electoral appeal and potential for a long future in State politics. But will her career stall if she fails to win the next election four months away, on Saturday March 23, 2019,

As a Queenslander, I do not follow the NSW political scene closely but it seems to me that even after Luke Foley’s inglorious demise as leader of the Labor Party, the Liberals could face an uphill battle to retain office, if Labor’s  landslide win in the Victorian State Election last weekend is any guide.

The 17% swing against the Liberals in the October 20, 2018 Wentworth by-election far exceeded expectations, but it was understandable given the esteem within the electorate for Malcolm Turnbull, Dr Kerryn Phelps’s high profile, and Scott Morrison’s missteps in the week leading up to the election.

The overall swing of about 5.3% to Labor and 6.7% swing away from the Liberal Party in Victoria on Saturday 24th November 2018 came as a surprise, and is likely to give Labor 16 more seats, from 45 to 61, of 88 lower house seats. The swing in some seats , worryingly for politicians involved in the overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull, has been of the order of 10-11%.

Conservatives blame a poor campaign by Liberal leader Mathew Guy, instead of festering federal coalition disunity.  However, if there is a similar swing at the NSW State election  in March next year, they will be proved wrong.  NSW may be a stronghold of the ugly Right faction of the Liberal Party, but in-spite of this the Liberals after holding the seat for over sixty years, lost the Wagga Wagga State by-election 8th September 2018, two weeks after the Federal Leadership spill, with a swing against them of more than 28%. The independent candidate Dr Joe McGirr won with 59.6% of the two-party preferred vote.

Conservatives under-estimate small-l liberal resentment if they expect supporters to meekly roll over and submit without protest after their bullying tactics to remove Malcolm Turnbull.  They will have learned nothing if they continue on with more of the same dogmatic rhetoric, fail to acknowledge past injustices, and adopt an aggressive scare campaign in the lead up to the next election due in May. 

Julia Banks, Liberal member for Chisholm, today joined the ranks of disaffected women because of bullying by male colleagues. TV Commentator Paul Murray showed  the reasonableness of her allegations by calling her “a rat” on his Sky News program. 

Further illustration of the bullying sexist culture within the Liberal Party today was a double entendre inference by MP Barry O’Sullivan in his address, that SA Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young had had sexual relations with former federal member Nick Xenophon. It has followed extremely derogatory sexist remarks by Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm and it reduced her to tears. No Liberal came to her defence, and it was left to the Greens Leader Richard di Natale to rebuke him.

It would not surprise if more Liberal women revolted, with Scott Morrison powerless to maintain a standard of common decency in parliamentary debate.

Whilst hypocritically accusing Labor for hubris after the Victorian State Election result, when parliament returned on Monday 27th November 2018, he cockily taunted Bill Shorten for trailing well behind him in the polls as preferred Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has decided to bring the next Budget forward by one month to April 2 2019, with the Federal Election 5-6 weeks later on May 11 or 18, 2019, leaving NSW Liberals to fight their election with unresolved turmoil within the Federal Coalition.

How will Gladys fare?



Posted in Political debate

The Ungracious Right!

Voters in the Wentworth Electorate this coming Saturday (October 20) will have their say on the toppling of their popular member Malcolm Turnbull as Australia’s 29th Prime Minister.

If the Liberal candidate, Turnbull backed David Sharma, fails to win the two-party preferred vote, an unstable “hung” parliament will result in which the Coalition could lose a workable majority, and need to call an early election for voters to resolve.

The present impasse has come about by the intransigence of the Coalition right faction, powered by Conservative Media, whose over-riding goal has been to remove Malcolm Turnbull from the Leadership.

Their carping over almost everything he has or hasn’t done, includes:

  • Criticism of him for using a Postal Ballot on Gay-Marriage, to determine the will of the people on this contentious issue.
  •  Accusing him of abandoning core Liberal principles, and implementing Labor policies when he improved funding for the National Disability Scheme, adopted Gonski recommendations on education funding, and imposed a fiscally responsible levy on the major banks.
  • Accusing him of lacking moral fibre because as an avowed Republican he decided not to raise this issue in the life of the present beloved Queen.
  • Although the Right opposed the bipartisan agreement with Labor for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders after a referendum, they labelled him lacking in leadership when he abandoned the idea after the Uluru Statement “From the Heart” created controversy over their wish to have a voice on framing Indigenous Policies.
  • When he sought to uphold ministerial standards of conduct in the wake of Barnaby Joyce’s indiscretions, he was mocked for sermonizing.
  • Whilst undermining his efforts to unite the Party they repeatedly taunted him over his failure to end Labor’s narrow lead over the Coalition in two party preferred terms, even although the Coalition was consistently ahead in the primary vote, and Turnbull always polled ahead of Shorten as preferred Prime Minister.
  • They implied that it was Turnbull, not the Right, who influenced his friend and appointee, former Chairman of the ABC Justin Milne, to sack the Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, and to seek the dismissal of two ABC journalists for presentations critical of government policy.
  • They even blamed him for allowing the Australian Bureau of Statistics to use the Internet to accept returns for the 2016 Census, after the website crashed.
  • It has been the Right’s obdurate stance on Climate Change that has proved to be his Achilles heel. They have insisted on more coal power generation, even although Private enterprise is not at present willing to invest in new coal mines, and/or new coal-fired power stations, so it would need to be at tax-payer expense.

 

You might have thought that the perverse Right would have softened their anti-Turnbull rhetoric after their conquest. If they were magnanimous, they might even have thanked him for his contributions. But no! They have become too mean-spirited!

Despite not being able to give a credible reason for replacing him, and indeed trumpeting the significant economic achievements of his administration compared to Labor, his detractors have continued to belittle him.

Ungracious in Victory.

• He has been blamed for his own demise by not contesting the second leadership ballot, saying he abandoned the Party by resigning.
• He has been blamed for endorsing David Sharma as the Liberal candidate for Wentworth in the face of Scott Morrison’s wish for a female candidate.
• He has been denounced for attacking Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd by saying that deposed Prime Ministers who stay around after their defeat to create dissent were like miserable ghosts.
• He has been held responsible for his Son Alex suggesting that Wentworth voters should not vote for the Liberal candidate at Saturday’s by-election.
• In their opinion, because he refrained from campaigning for the Liberals after resigning from politics, it will be his responsibility should the Liberals fail to win the safe seat of Wentworth on Saturday, and his doing if Labor then wins the next election.

My perception is that under an autocratic Abbott, the Liberal Party was becoming the defender of privilege, rather than the champion of private enterprise and the supporter of battlers.

In contrast, under Turnbull, social issues have were addressed, whilst at the same time, the economy improved on many fronts, a feat which proves the Coalition’s better management of the economy compared with Labor, but in the eyes of the Right, no kudos to Turnbull.

Post Turnbull, the key issue for me at the next election is the bullying way in which he was executed. To what extent can we blame Alan Jones, and kindred opinion makers for  the bullying culture that infiltrated Liberal ranks?

I only wish we could vote Jones out of his office as the Supremo of invective.  He is always right, reluctant to ever back down, and it is time politicians stopped meekly deferring to him.

In the end however, it was not the antipathy of the parliamentary Right to his leadership that unseated Turnbull, but the betrayal of his previously loyal deputy Scott Morrison with a Judas-like embrace. Perhaps he and others cannot be blamed for this. After all. Carpe diem! (Seize the day!!). But only time will tell how durable their grasp on power will prove?

Posted in Political debate | Tagged

Is it time to introduce four year federal parliamentary terms?

Seven changes of Australia’s Prime Minister in the past eleven years is good reason to re-visit the debate on extending the term of the House of Representatives from three to four years in harmony with the terms for most State Parliaments, even although it would require a referendum to effect the change.

The present average term of office of about 2 years 7 months, dictates that governments are swayed by short-term political expediency considerations, and perhaps unable to implement tough decisions in the longer-term interest of Australia.

The Australian Constitution permits Prime Ministers to call a federal election at any time during maximum parliamentary terms of three years. As a result some terms of office have been less than 18 months, half the permitted span.

Inevitably party leaders come under intense scrutiny, both inside and outside of parliament, in the lead-up to elections. The never ending blow by blow accounts of factional wars, and bitter feuds between powerful sectoral interests of the past several years may be a bonanza for the media, but they undermine public confidence in our political system, and unsettle our multicultural and diverse communities of voters.

Some would argue that longer terms postpone our democratic right to change governments that do not perform to expectations. However elections do not necessarily result in a change in government, there having been only nine changes in office since federation, and Australia is out of step with a move to longer terms internationally.

 

https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp0001/01RP04

Posted in Political debate | Tagged ,