Michael Pascoe at the SMH has a look at the start of the Australian election campaign and the focus on population and immigration - Puppetry of the population.
Nevertheless, we can dither for a bit longer on the big issue of taxation and ageing before a crisis becomes obvious, but right now there's appalling dissembling by both sides on population myths and prejudices – puppetry of the population, you might say.
Gillard was at it again yesterday, not believing in a Big Australia – but being very careful not to define what a Big Australia might be. Ditto Abbott.
If a Big Australia is supposed to be the mooted 36 million by 2050, Julia and Tony might not believe in it, but it's still going to be true. For quite a while various rulers didn't believe in a round earth – but that didn't make it flat.
Quite simply, we're pretty much locked into the 36, give or take a million, and that's assuming our population growth rate eases further from its recent peak. Or maybe our leaders are planning plague, financial collapse or total war – they'll all reduce population quite effectively.
More to the point is that 36 million people in 40 years' time isn't a Big Australia anyway – it's just bigger than the present one, just as the present 22 million is a great deal bigger than the 12 million of 40 years ago. As long as we decentralise more and plan and build for it, living standards could rise with growth of that proportion, not fall.
But that would take a better class of Federal and State politician, plus an electorate prepared to both hear and consider the truth. Oh dear.
The Business Spectator reports that opposition leader Tony Abbott remains determined to do nothing about global warming (other than tell some people he doesn't believe in it and other people he does) - Abbott vows no carbon price.
The coalition has upped the ante in its opposition to imposing a carbon price on Australians.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott strengthened his resolve on the issue on Sunday. "There will be no carbon price on consumers under a coalition government, none whatsoever," Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has yet to announce her climate change policy but Mr Abbott is certain it will include a price on carbon. "Julia Gillard says she wants a carbon price, she supports a carbon price and she will bring in a carbon price," Mr Abbott said. ...
But Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said Mr Abbott was misguided on a number of fronts.
"It's either a misunderstanding or misleading at worst to interpret the work that we've done to say the coalition are on track for their targets or somehow has a credible or acceptable plan on pollution and climate change," Mr Connor told AAP.
The institute had been explicit in saying neither of the major parties had credible policies for the targets in terms of pollution levels, Mr Connor said.
China has been closing down pollution intensive steel mills and power plants, setting pollution standards and has renewable energy targets. "They have got a number of policies which amount to a carbon price," Mr Connor said. "They are certainly taking action and they understand that taking action on pollution and climate change is part of a better standard of living."
Mr Abbott's comments were contradictory because by supporting renewable energy the coalition would essentially support a carbon price, Mr Connor said.
His comments also showed cracks in the Liberal policy on the issue because Joe Hockey had spoken about the need for a price on carbon in May. "To me it's the most extreme anyone from the coalition has been about that saying there will never be a price on carbon."
Greens senator Christine Milne said it was clear Mr Abbott had no idea about climate change. "While both Labor and Liberals dig us deeper and deeper into coal, China and India are leaving us behind," Senator Milne said.
John Quiggin says you should vote Green (and I'll second this, now the Australian Democrats are gone they are the only option left) - The case for the Greens.
As I said last time, I’ll be advocating a vote for the Greens. Unlike some commenters here, I plan to give my second preference to Labor. To justify my second preference first, I regard the Liberals under Abbott as utterly unfit for government. Abbott has behaved as an unprincipled opportunist throughout his period as opposition leader, denouncing “great big new taxes”, then proposing taxes of his own with no regard for consistency or good public policy. In office, I expect he would discover that he had a mandate for the hardline rightwing policies he has always favored.
Coming to the choice between Labor and the Greens, this isn’t the first time I have given a first preference to the Greens, but it’s the first in some years. The main substantive issues that concern me are economic management and climate change, but these issues (and particularly climate change) can’t be separate from questions about process and principle. The government has done a good job on economic management, while the opposition has been consistent only in error. On the other hand, the government has made a terrible mess of climate change policy, almost entirely because of its reluctance to deal with the Greens and to confront the opposition and the lobby groups that back them. In the long run, the only way they will be able to govern effectively is through co-operation with the Greens, and the sooner they are forced to realise this the better.
It’s obvious at this point that the CPRS proposed last year is dead, and that a new ETS will have to be developed, hopefully when we have seen some more progress in other countries. For that reason, I think a carbon tax, with few exemptions and a tight cap on compensation to emitters is the best way to go. The Greens idea of a two-year interim carbon tax would be a good starting point for discussion and there is still time for Labor to announce in-principle support for a deal of this kind.
The ABC has a column from Ben Eltham on the lack of interest the major parties have in energy related issues - The perils of policy pragmatism.
Comparing the two sets of policies at the start of the campaign, one is struck by the similarities of the two major parties', not the differences. As Lenore Taylor pointed out today, both major parties are committed to relatively stringent fiscal policies in order to return the budget to surplus by 2013. Both major parties are committed to absurdly punitive anti-asylum seeker policies. Neither major party will promise a price on carbon.
One useful exercise in comparing the party policy platforms is to ask yourself what the real problems facing Australia in 2010 really are, and whether either party addresses them. If you think unauthorised arrivals by seaborne asylum seekers are the most pressing problem, then you can be satisfied that the major parties are taking your concerns seriously. The same can be said for those worried about Australia's government debt and budget deficit: both parties have realistic plans to return to surplus and eventually pay down that debt.
I don't happen to share those concerns, and I wonder how many other Australians really do either. The latest Essential Research poll asks respondents what they thought were the most important issues; treatment of asylum seekers polled down the bottom of the list. Only 7 per cent of those polled thought the issue was the most or second-most important issue. In contrast, "management of the economy" was a clear winner, with 38 per cent rating it the single most important issue. "Ensuring the quality of Australia's health system" came second. "Addressing climate change", which I think is the biggest long-term issue facing the nation as a whole, ranked well down the list.
And here is where the polls can be a political curse, as well as a blessing. What does "managing the economy" mean, anyway? Low unemployment and a cheap cost of living? Economic growth? Or a more personal definition, along the lines of "a steady job at a decent wage for myself and my family members"? Polls can be difficult to interpret, even for those who know the difference between a statistical blip and an election-winning bounce.
It's also worth thinking about what issues are not on that list, or on any of the major party platforms. Petrol prices, for example, are likely to re-emerge as a key issue in the electorate in the next term of government, as a global economic recovery pushes the price of oil back over $100 a barrel.
Internationally, many experts and analysts are warning of the medium-term risk of another oil crunch, as expanding demand in Asia and India rapidly outstrips a global oil supply that may now have peaked. In the UK, industry there is taking the issue very seriously indeed, as a recent report backed by multinational giant Arup and the Virgin Group demonstrates. In Australia, we remain blissfully ignorant of the likely consequences, despite the serious pain awaiting airlines, resource companies and ordinary commuters should petrol shoot over $2 a litre. In the longer term, the CSIRO has forecast that petrol will reach $8 a litre by 2018.
Neither major party has a viable policy for preparing Australia for peak oil, or even for much more expensive fossil fuels. A price on carbon would go some way to addressing the situation, but massive government investment in renewable energy and transport infrastructure will also be required. But, in the wake of the Coalition's successful campaign against the CPRS and Labor's insulation programs, it may be a long time before a Liberal or Labor government will be prepared to promise another ambitious infrastructure program for renewable energy.
Its a little hard to get as interested in this election cycle (unlike the last round, where it was far easier to get motivated to continuously criticise the evils being perpetrated by the Bush and Howard governments). The Huffington Post has a nostalgia inducing article, discussing why Bush and Cheney should have been put on trial - Andrew Napolitano, Fox Contributor: Bush And Cheney 'Absolutely Should Have Been Indicted'.
Fox News contributor and host of Fox Business' new libertarian show Judge Andrew Napolitano said over the weekend that President Bush and Vice President Cheney should have been indicted over their administration's conduct around Guantánamo Bay.
In an interview with Ralph Nader on C-SPAN, Napolitano blasted the former administration for suspending habeas corpus.
"What President Bush did with the suspension of habeas corpus, with the whole concept of Guantánamo Bay, with the whole idea that he could avoid and evade federal laws, treaties, federal judges and the constitution was blatantly unconstitutional — and in some cases criminal," Napolitano said. "They should have been indicted. They absolutely should have been indicted. For torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrants. I'd like to say they should be indicted for lying but believe it or not, unless you're under oath, lying is not a crime."
Napolitano added that "the evidence...is overwhelming...that George W. Bush as President and Dick Cheney as Vice President participated in criminal conspiracies to violate the federal law and the guaranteed civil liberties of hundreds, maybe thousands, of human beings."
The Miami Herald has a look at one of the Bush regime's enduring Orwellian legacies - the "no fly list" - `No-fly' list often snares wrong persons.
On the face of it, they'd seem to have little in common.
One is a disabled former Marine, born in Miami and living in Egypt. Another is a 28-year-old student from Corona, Calif., a German citizen and permanent resident of the U.S. Another is a refugee from Guinea who works as a caregiver for a family in New York. Another is an Air Force veteran and retired fireman, originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico.
There are 10 of them in all, 10 individuals from 10 walks of life who it turns out do have something in common not only with one another, but also with several toddlers, nuns and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Namely, they've all been refused permission to board planes bound for, or traveling within, the United States, because their names showed up on a terrorist ``no-fly'' list.
As of last week, the 10 have something else in common. They are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Timothy Healy, director of the Terrorist Screening Center. The ACLU is seeking an injunction on behalf of individuals who, as the suit puts it, ``the government deems too dangerous to fly, but too harmless to arrest.''
It's more than a clever turn of phrase. It is also an apt description of the legal limbo to which the the government has consigned an untold number of innocent people in the name of fighting terror.
Here's how it is when your name is on the no-fly list:
They won't let you fly.
They won't tell you why.
They won't show you the list.
They won't take your name off the list.
They won't give you any way to appeal.
The list, then, is a purgatory to which one can be consigned in perpetuity with neither due process nor judicial review, because one's name happened to be similar to that of some bad person. And there is no form you fill out or person you can talk to to have the error corrected. You've simply got to live with it.
Of all the insults to personal liberty imposed by George W. Bush's War on Civil Rights, this is in some ways the most profound. And it is fitting, as we mark the 234th anniversary of American freedom, that the ACLU lawsuit forces us to ponder a fundamental question: What sort of freedom is this?
It calls to mind a poignant scene from history. When the Civil War ended 145 years ago and slaves were told they were free, many struggled to define the word. In candlelit meetings in barns and bogs, they debated it. What does freedom mean? How do you know you are free?
And many decided that if freedom meant anything, it meant they could move around without permission or pass. So they tested it. They walked away. They walked across towns, across states, across country. That was, they decided, the fundamental definition of freedom: It meant that you could go.
The stakes in the ACLU lawsuit, then, are higher than just an annoyance or an inconvenience. The suit is also about, perhaps mostly about, the abrogation of an inalienable and indispensable right -- the right to go -- from people who have been accused of no crime.
No one disputes the need for tight airline security. If there are certain individuals who should not fly because the government reasonably believes their associations or activities suggest a threat to a jetliner, so be it. Those are sensible precautions.
But the federal no-fly list is an overly-broad caricature of sensible precautions. It is hard to imagine anything more un-American than the idea one could wind up on a secret watch list with no explanation or recourse in the event of mistaken identity.
What kind of freedom is that? It's simple, really.
That's not freedom at all.