Thursday, 26 December 2013

An American Letter

Brisbane, January 26, 1895.

An American Letter.

ED. WORKER, – In enclosing another year's subscription I feel sure you will be glad to know how the Labour movement is progressing in America. The conditions here are somewhat different from those which exist in Australia and the depression is not likely to be of so long continuance as among you, because all admit that here there is ample capital in the market and commercial men say that it would be utilised in the employment of workers, the tariff question were once settled. Moreover very many are out of employment, and an increasing number are turning their attention to economics with the unavoidable result that the tide sets towards Socialism. The same thing is noticeable in the universities, and I doubt not the time will come when the citizens of the United States, having carefully studied the subject in all its bearings, will adopt a more advanced social economy than any other nation in the world. This time, however, is as yet distant. Two great obstacles have to be overcome. One is the strongly marked – individualism of the American. To profit oneself, to amass money for oneself, and afterwards to expend that money in ways – philanthropic it may be – but still in ways calculated to concentrate public attention upon oneself – in one word to make self the great man and leave the masses where they were before. This character, common in all lands, is yet more strongly marked in America than in any other, and so long as this is the ideal there can be no general progress. However, this character is no longer admired as it used to be if remarks in the daily papers are to taken as any criterion. Another obstacle of the opposite kind is the desire of the larger sections of the community to overbear the smaller, thus menacing the liberty by which Socialism must be interpermeated if it is not to be almost as great an evil as Individualism itself. As the country is getting older and its citizens more reflective, I think both these evils are passing away.

* * *

The law of America is very different from yours in respect of political parties. Here a party is a corporate entity recognised by law as soon as it has attained a prescribed number of adherents, and all candidates for the legislature of for the executive (which also is here elective) are nominated by the party – there are no nominations by individuals. The number of parties is at present five. Two of these, known as Republican and Democratic (a misnomer) are factions of the Capitalistic party, and are here called the Boodle parties. The other three, known as the Socialist Labour, the Populist (or People's) and the Prohibitionist, are reform parties. Each of these has held a national convention and issued a platform. The Socialist platform is published in Boston Labor, which states that it is one of your exchanges, so I suppose you have a copy. It seems to me an excellent platform, but I notice that it does not go so far as to demand the nationalisation of all enterprises of production and distribution, but leave open the question, on which Socialists are so much divided, whether these should be owned by the State or by the workers for the time being carrying each on, although the preamble states that “the machinery of production must belong to the people in common.” It, however, requires that the United States shall own the means of transportation and communication (which stated on a peculiar footing) and that each city shall own its own tramways, waterworks, &c., and that public lands shall be inalienable and land grants, the conditions of which have not been complied with, are to be revoked (!). At the end a clause is lugged in respecting capital punishment – why. I do not know. The platform of the Populist and Prohibitionist parties, as adopted in 1892, may be found in Macpherson's Annual handbook of Politics for that year. Both set an incomprehensible value on a large increase of money – not money's worth, but coins and bank notes, or rather State notes – but neither state to whom this additional money is to to be paid.

It is generally conceded that these parties labour under some confusion of thought on the subject of money, but what it exactly is I have never been able to fathom. I understand one theory of the Populists is that Government can, by enacting that a piece of paper or a silver coin shall be a legal tender for one dollar, make it as valuable as the weight of gold contained in a dollar. Happily the Socialists have steered clear of all this jugglery. The populists ask for Government ownership and the Prohibitionists for Government control of railroads, telegraphs, &c., and the Populists rather ambiguously provide that “the powers of government shall be expanded, as in the case of the postal service, as rapidly and as far as the good sense of an intelligent people and the teachings of experience shall justify.” Neither objects to the private ownership of land, except by corporations or by alien absentees (the Populists say “aliens” but probably mean alien absentees), but the Prohibitionists call for its restriction. The Populists convention recommend but did not include in the platform the adoption of the initiative and referendum. The Prohibitionists further demand the prohibition of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors (whence their name), female suffrage, taxes on property and not (except for reciprocity's sake) on imports control of incorporated companies, reduction of immigration, non-sectarian education and opposition to the loyalist parties, as well as numerous minor reforms. The single taxers have joined the Democratic Boodle party.

* * *

These three parties are now cutting the ground from under one another's feet, each nominating a distinct set of candidates, and an attempt is being made to bring them to work in harmony. Already the Socialists and Populists have in some instances nominated a joint “ticket.” Much is being done towards effecting the fusion by Mr. Swift, of Boston. And now I must tell you something about “Equity House” and Boston Common on sunday.

* * *

Equity House' is a name which has been given to No. 20 Oak street, Boston. Here resides Mrs. Harding, an old lady, who is said to have amassed some money by working as a milliner, and is now expending it in doing good to the poor. This she does partly by alms, partly by trying to find employment, and partly by assisting in what I can only call a socialistic propaganda, although Mrs. Harding insists that Equity House is not indentified with any “ist” or any “ism.” At Equity House ever since its establishment, about 18 months ago, has resided Morrison I. Swift, who has already become quite a personality in America. He is a born American, and I think a Yankee – at least he has the characteristics of one – although his relatives now live in California. Sociology is much studied now at all the American colleges, but the John Hopkins University at Baltimore is admitted to lead in this study, and at the John Hopkins University Mr. Swift studied and obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. He then for some time lived in a “College Settlement” in New York city, and then came to Equity House, Boston. I heard an old Scotchman who preaches the Gospel on Boston Common say in his discourse that he did not know Mr. Swift, but that judging from his actions as reported in the newspapers he thought he was not in his right mind. The remark was probably made for a purpose, but there really is a great deal in Mr. Swift's public doings which to a steady going Scotchman must seem in compatible with perfect sanity. An American would recognise it as matter of policy – done to make a racket. Mr. Swift is in fact a very shrewd man, and of very quiet demeanour and deliberate speech, inclined rather to sarcasm than eloquence. But I believe he is thoroughly sincere – an advanced Socialist and a most devoted man. Personally I like him very much so far as I have yet seen. He is just leaving for California.

* * *

The latest move at Equity House is to establish a daily Labour paper, which shall gradually mould the trade unionists and Populists into harmony with the Socialists. I explained to them how the WORKER was founded, and suggested that it would be better to let a Socialist weekly already existing develop into a daily, but Mr. Swift and his coadjutors are not to be restrained, and insist upon trying the experiment, which I and some others told them must result in financial failure. The Socialists have already several weeklies, as you know, and those in New York are contemplating a daily People. I hope these dailies will all succeed.

* * *

Boston Common on Sunday is a singular sight. Near the centre is a band stand with numerous benches in front, where the public can without charge hear a band from about 3 to 6 p.m. Near this band stand several orators hold forth. Close to it from 1.30 to 3 the inmates of Equity House and their friends and coadjutors preach Socialism and a divine discontent. Mr. Swift sometimes preaches a discontent not altogether divine. Then at the same stand from 6 the Single-Taxers orate. A bit to one side, commencing about 6, are the Social Economists, who, I think, are largely college men. Then still further over, from say 12 to 3, the Gospel is preached by the old Scotchman and his coadjutors, and from 3 the Socialist Labour party take the same stand. Not infrequently the same orator will discourse from the Equity House platform, and after wards from that of the Socialists Labour Party. Women as well as men orate from these platforms. On another side of the common numerous persons (singly, not in groups) preach the gospel to small audiences.

* * *

On the whole, while Americans admit that they are behind Australians in social development, and that their national traditions are somewhat opposed to Socialism, it cannot be denied that the cause is spreading, and the depression has given it a considerable impetus.

* * *

One very important point must not be omitted. The American Federation of labour issued a provisional platform containing a plank calling for the public ownership of all means of production and distribution. I was present lately at a meeting of the Massachusetts section when this plank was discussed fully and rejected by a small majority. This has been represented in the daily press as a rejection of Socialism. But the man who made the leading speech against it called himself a Socialist, and several speakers said the time might come when the plank would be appropriate. Their decision was a postponement of State Socialism. With that form of Socialism in which each body of workers owns the enterprise in which they work, or at least exercise considerable control over its management, they expressed their sympathy. This has always been my own view often expressed. The workers must be educated into the management of enterprise before they can control them through the medium of the state, and the State as at present constituted would be no better than a private employer, with which latter fact you in Australia are familiar.

* * *

Lastly, as to the relation of religion with Socialism. Rev. Bliss, an Episcopal clergyman, some years ago gave up his pastorate because the congregation would not let him preach Socialism. He then established an Episcopal (i.e. Anglican) church in Boston, where regular services with sermons favouring Socialism were preached, and in the evening a light supper was given for payment, Mrs. Bliss acting as waitress, and a debate followed. Another Episcopal clergyman joined Mr. Bliss, having first learned the trade of a carpenter in order to be independent . These clergyman, I understand, have suffered a complete financial failure. Mr. Bliss had to send his wife and child to England. Mr. Bliss, however, partly brought about his own failure by transferring his allegiance from the Socialist labour party to the Populist Party, though he did this from the best motives, believing that the Populist party was more influential and therefore better able to obtain reforms. Many of the Socialists look on him as you do on Mr. Drake, as a man who had a great opportunity and sacrificed it. Still, whatever Mr. Bliss's errors of judgement may be, he is an honest man, and his example is not calculated to make the clergy more zealous in leading social reforms. In plain English, a clergyman has to defer to his congregation. A young man named Caeson, formerly of Equity House, has lately established at Lynn (Mass.) a labour Church, in affiliation with the Labour Churches recently established in England. I went there once to hear him, and found that he had a crowded and appreciative congregation wholly composed of working people. He uses the hymn book put forward by the labour church in England, but a far better one could be compiled from the lyrics which from time appear in the WORKER.

Yours fraternally,
H. W. Boyd Mackay.

38 Winthrop street
Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Australia and Canada: a conservative bromance

Extract from The Guardian website:

Carbon tax, refugees, economics: the Canadian and Australian governments have been reading closely from the same page
It was early March, 2013. Former Australian prime minister John Howard took the stage in a cavernous convention hall in Ottawa. “Can I start by saying you have no reason to be concerned about the state of conservatism in this country,” he told the crowd of Canadian conservatives who’d gathered for the Manning Centre’s annual networking conference. “I can’t find a better conservative leader anywhere in the world than [Canadian prime minister] Stephen Harper. I really can’t.”
One wonders whether Howard would say the same thing now. Not because Harper’s recent domestic scandal has called into question the purity of his party’s convictions, the increasing centralisation of power in his office, and his own leadership qualities, but because he now has what many consider an ideological body-double Down Under. But as much as Canada’s Conservative party membership may love to hear how similar they are to their Australian cousins, it might be one key difference that matters most in the long run.
Perhaps not since Harper recited one of Howard’s speeches verbatim, without credit, in the House of Commons, have the Canadian and Australian governments been reading so closely from the same page. The two nations were jointly responsible for blocking a Commonwealth initiative to establish a climate fund for poor nations in November; Abbott has, as Harper did, promised to squash asylum seekers landing ashore by boat from Asia; and Abbott’s platform carried the promise of further mandatory minimum sentencing for gun crimes. The Harper government has already implemented the same for some sexual and drug offences.
So when Abbott’s government killed the Australian carbon tax, it was little surprise that the loudest cheer came from Ottawa. The prime minister’s parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra, told the House that Canada “applauds” the decision, and that Abbott’s move “sends an important message.” Which is true for a few reasons.
It was important for the Conservative government for purely rhetorical uses. It provided fresh fodder for a tired, farcical talking point against Canada’s opposition New Democrats, who the government alleges would implement something similar if ever given power.
Also important: it clearly showed the Harper Conservatives have a staunch ideological ally – finally.
The fact that the two parties and leaders are allies isn’t a total shock. The parallels between Abbott and Harper were easily drawn months ago. Both are economists. Both are young. Both were grown into leaders after long-term grassroots participation in conservatism. And just as easily linked are the messaging strategies, borne from continued and very close relationship between the Canadian Conservative and Australian Liberal parties. Abbott’s election night promise of guaranteeing a government “that is competent, that is trustworthy, and which purposefully and steadfastly and methodically sets about delivering on our commitments,” would sound nice (and familiar) to Harper’s “strong, stable, national Conservative majority government.”
And Conservatives will tell you the Liberals have recently turned to Harper and his team for guidance, and found a very welcoming ear. They had to return the favour, after all. Earlier this decade key figures within the Conservative party like strategic planner Patrick Muttart, were studying Australia’s successes – particularly Howard’s ability to covet the working- and middle-class. They adopted and adapted aspects of it to eventual success. That’s useful for both sides, if only to do what Calandra did and justify each other’s existence and continued power.
But maybe most interestingly, Abbott’s decision provides an important message for Canada’s grassroots conservatives, if they want to hear it.
Harper’s current troubles have come since Conservative senator Mike Duffy was found to have incorrectly billed taxpayers for living and travel expenses and that, to rectify the imbalance, Harper’s then-chief of staff offered to pay it out of his own pocket. The police also allege that other member’s of Harper’s inner circle knew of the payment and coached Duffy to instead tell the public a different story. Harper has claimed ignorance of the entire affair, but it has severely damaged his reputation as an incorruptible straight-shooter and a no-nonsense manager – the kind of image Abbott is also trying to form despite an expenses row of his own.
But here, there is one key difference between the two. Abbott leads a group of MPs that can get rid of him; Harper leads a group of MPs who cannot, as he – like all Canadian political leaders – is instead chosen by the party membership. However, coming down the pike is a bill from a backbench Conservative MP that aims, in part, to change that, and return that power to the base. It could prove crucial.
“The most important thing always in politics is to stand for something,” Howard said in March. “And once a government looks as though it doesn’t stand for something and has lost its way philosophically, it’s only a matter of time before the public vote it out.”

Monday, 23 December 2013

Opinion of Direct Action Plan

The Coalition Government's Direct Action plan to fight Climate Change is taking greenwashing  to the extreme. Emissions Reduction Fund Green Paper

It could have easily been used in a sketch on Yes Minister.

The Worker

Attacks on the ABC expose News Corp's hidden agenda

Extract from The Guardian website:

Underlying News Corp’s criticism of the ABC is a fear it poses a risk to their own commercial interests in a difficult media market
For weeks News Corp papers have been running a barrage of opinion pieces, often several on a single day, alleging a lack of diversity in the opinions available at the ABC.
The generally agreed thesis advanced by these opinion writers – most of whom live in Sydney and Melbourne – is that too many ABC opinion-makers live in Sydney and Melbourne, and that this contributes to their “green-left” worldview.
This “green-left” worldview, News Corp writers contend, contributes to “biased” reporting and political interviewing on the ABC and infuses its wider programming as well, including – according to Piers Akerman at least – the “weird feminism” evident in Peppa Pig and the “left sludge” he hears when he tunes in the Triple J. (Does Akerman really tune into Triple J?)
Bias is, by definition, in the eye of the beholder, but to my eye it’s more evident when I tune in to, say, Ray Hadley and hear him ask “questions” like this one during a conversation with prime minister Tony Abbott about how to handle the Palmer United party when the new Senate sits from next July:
... and you’re going to have to be even better than you were at the beginning of the election. You won’t be taking my advice and saying listen Clive, stick it up your jumper. You’ll have to be even more diplomatic than you were in Indonesia.”
Or this one, in a television interview with Abbott by Andrew Bolt:
The attacks on you are astonishing. Have they forced you to change your media strategy, which until a week or two ago was to say little and let your deeds speak for themselves?”
The ABC’s critics argue that the public broadcaster has a particular responsibility to show even-handedness because it is funded by the taxpayer, and the ABC agrees.
In his recent address to the national press club, ABC chairman Jim Spigelman responded to the allegations of editorial bias with a new system of external audits, starting with an analysis of the impartiality of all radio interviews with the-then prime minister and opposition leader during the 2013 election campaign.
“I do not accept that [bias] is systematic, but I do accept that it sometimes occurs,” he said, noting the complaints were usually about programs that represented less than 1% of the corporation’s program hours, but which “happen … to interest the political class most”.
You’d think the ABC’s critics would have been pleased with this response to their complaints, but if you thought that, you’d be misunderstanding the real reason for their attacks.
News Corp columnist Miranda Devine derided Spigelman’s audits as “a sop” and “laughable”, saying a far better solution would be “to decentralise the ABC by splitting it into competing state organisations".
"That would disempower Left-Green inner-city elites who control the culture and help the ABC fulfill its charter to ‘reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community’,” she insisted.
Spigelman, in his speech, said many journalists had a “social and educational background, perhaps particularly in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, that may make them more interested in, say, gay marriage than, say, electricity prices. As a public broadcaster we must endeavour to engage with those sections of our community who are concerned with the latter”.
The Australian’s columnist Chris Kenny saw that as “a remarkable admission”, for which one (to him at least) “obvious” remedy was “to reduce the size of the ABC”.
“As mainstream media shrinks and the national broadcaster continues to grow, its publicly-funded, cosseted view of the world becomes increasingly influential and self-referential, even if it is ever more remote from mainstream Australians,” he wrote.
In other words, as the ABC sought to address the criticisms about bias, the underlying concerns of its critics became more transparent – that the ABC is a taxpayer-funded competitor to their own commercial activities in an increasingly difficult media market, and that over time this could mean the ABC gains influence as they lose it.
To date prime minister Tony Abbott shows no sign of responding to the fulminations. Although he has criticised the ABC for working with Guardian Australia on the story, based on Edward Snowden’s documents, that Australia had spied on the Indonesian president, he has not publicly backed the push to cut funding or rein in the broadcaster’s reach.
And when Abbott showed an inclination for a diversity of views in advice to government – for example in his appointment of former Democrat senator Natasha Stott Despoja as ambassador for women and girls – he was attacked by the same columnists.
According to Akerman, the appointment shows that “the Abbott forces have spat in the eye of every conservative and, more importantly, every conservative woman who has fought tirelessly through the dark years of opposition to keep the conservative flame alive when it was under heavy attack from the very forces which saw Stott Despoja as their champion.”
Abbott is forgetting, Akerman argues, the “first rule of conservatism – stick to your guns.”
Perhaps, Piers, Abbott is remembering that he promised to govern for everyone, or that democracies work best with an actual diversity of views and respectful debate.
Adjusting to a change of government is always clunky, as expectations shift like grating gears. The losing side takes time to adjust to the idea that the winners have a right to change things, within the parameters of what they promised to do, and the winners to the notion that victory doesn’t mean others in the political debate will raise the white flag, retire to a dark room for three years and abandon their policies or ideas. Reporting all of that does not reflect “lack of diversity” but the reality of a healthy polity.
It would be a pity if, “sticking to their guns” with the self-serving “ABC lacks diversity” argument, the “ABC only understands inner-city Sydney and Melbourne and doesn’t understand ordinary people in the suburbs” argument, the broadcasters’ commercial competitors might, even by attrition, convince people it is true – given what the ABC does, every day, to gather stories and views and news from all kinds of Australians, in all kinds of ways.
The critics do sometimes concede the role of regional ABC radio and local websites. But national programming does the same.
Recently, battling the unexpectedly visceral effects of grief, I came home from another day pretending to be OK, to find my family watching the final episode of the ABC’s music talent quest, Exhumed.
Some guys from Geelong with a passion for glam rock were just finishing their set, to be followed by a bunch of blokes from Launceston who liked to play really loud rock in their shed, four middle-aged Brisbane women who had decided they were never too old to try something new and formed themselves into a band, a country outfit from Warrnambool, a soul band from the Bellingen Valley with a lead vocalist who sang like a dream and the eventual winners, the wonderful Jahsifik, a reggae band from Kalgoorlie. They work as a truck driver, a scaffolder, a bouncer, an artist and a childcare worker. They play music for the joy of it.
After they had been named winners, the whole crazy lot of them had the Rooty Hill RSL up and dancing with a full-volume rendition of AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top complete with compere James Valentine on saxophone. And watching them, in all their wacky, ordinary, extraordinary, life-affirming variety, I suddenly felt joyful again.
I’m happy to pay my 10 cents a day for so much of what the ABC does, including finding non-elite, non-inner-city cultural, and human, diversity like that. May we exhume more of it – in politics and in life – in the new year.

Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change

Extract from The Guardian website:

• Author: 'I call it the climate-change counter movement'
• Study focuses on groups opposing US political action
Conservative groups may have spent up to $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change, according to the first extensive study into the anatomy of the anti-climate effort.
The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires, often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found.
“I call it the climate-change counter movement,” said the author of the study, Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle. “It is not just a couple of rogue individuals doing this. This is a large-scale political effort.”
Brulle's study, published on Friday in the journal Climatic Change, offers the most definitive exposure to date of the political and financial forces blocking American action on climate change. Still, there are big gaps.
It was not always possible to separate funds designated strictly for climate-change work from overall budgets, Brulle said. “Since the majority of the organizations are multiple focus organizations, not all of this income was devoted to climate change activities.”
Some of the think tanks on Brulle's list – such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) – said they had no institutional position on climate change and did not control the output of their scholars. In addition, Brulle acknowledged that he was unable to uncover the full extent of funding sources to the effort to oppose action on climate change. About three-quarters of the funds were routed through trusts or other mechanisms that assure anonymity to donors – a trend Brulle described as disturbing and a threat to democracy.
“This is how wealthy individuals or corporations translate their economic power into political and cultural power,” he said. “They have their profits and they hire people to write books that say climate change is not real. They hear people to go on TV and say climate change is not real. It ends up that people without economic power don't have the same size voice as the people who have economic power, and so it ends up distorting democracy.
“That is the bottom line here. These are unaccountable organisations deciding what our politics should be. They put their thumbs on the scale … It is more one dollar one vote than one person one vote.”

Top-tier conservative think tanks

The vast majority of the 91 groups on Brulle's list – 79% – were registered as charitable organisations and enjoyed considerable tax breaks. Those 91 groups included trade organisations, think tanks and campaign groups. The groups collectively received more than $7bn over the eight years of Brulle's study – or about $900m a year from 2003 to 2010. Conservative think tanks and advocacy groups occupied the core of that effort.
The funding was dispersed to top-tier conservative think tanks in Washington, such as the AEI and Heritage Foundation, which focus on a range of issues, as well as more obscure organisations such as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the John Locke Foundation.
Funding also went to groups that took on climate change denial as a core mission – such as the Heartland Institute, which held regular conclaves dedicated to undermining the United Nations climate panel's reports, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which tried and failed to prosecute a climate scientist, Michael Mann, for academic fraud.
AEI was by far the top recipient of such funds, receiving 16% of total funding over the eight years, or $86.7m. Heartland Institute, in contrast, received just 3% of the total, $16.7m. There was also generous support to Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group affiliated with the conservative Koch billionaires, which received $22.7m.

'It won't be going to liberals'

Brulle admits, however, that he was far less successful in uncovering the sources of funding for the counter-climate movement. About 75% of such funding sources remain shrouded in secrecy, with wealthy conservatives routing their donations through a system of trusts which guarantee anonymity.
The leading venue for those underground donations was the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which alone accounted for 25% of funding of the groups opposed to climate action. An investigation by the Guardian last February found that the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund had distributed nearly $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups from 2002-2010. The Donors group has now displaced such previous prominent supporters of the climate denial movement as the Koch-affiliated foundations and corporations like Exxon Mobil, Brulle said.
Other conservative foundations funding climate denial efforts include: the Searle Freedom Trust, the John William Pope Foundation, the Howard Charitable Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, which also promote a free-market approach on other issues.
A number of the groups on Brulle's list – both as funders and recipients – refused to comment on his findings or disputed his contention that they were part of a movement to block action on climate change.
Whitney Ball, the president of the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, said the organisation had no say in deciding which projects would receive funding. However, Ball told the Guardian last February that Donors offered funders the assurance their money would never go to Greenpeace. “It won't be going to liberals,” she said at that time.
“We do not otherwise drive the selection of grantees, nor do we conduct in-depth analyses of projects or grantees unless an account holder specifically requests that service,” Ball said in an email. “Neither Donors Trust nor Donors Capital Fund as institutions take positions with respect to any issue advocated by its grantees.”
Recipients of the funds also disputed the assertion they were part of a larger effort to undermine climate science or block action on climate change.
“Each of the scholars that work on any particular issue speaks for his or hers own work,” said Judy Mayka Stecker, director of media relations at AEI, in an email. She went on to write, however, that most of the AEI scholars who have worked on energy and climate change have moved on and would be unavailable to comment.
David Kreutzer, an energy and climate change fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said Brulle was unfairly conflating climate denial with opposition to policies that would require industry reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We do believe that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that man-made emissions will lead to some warming,” said David Kreutzer, an energy and climate-change fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “We are opposed to mandatory greenhouse gas emissions cuts.”
He said many conservatives saw a carbon tax, cap-and-trade and other climate policies as a government takeover by stealth.
“What we are not interested in doing is a huge shift of power to the government under the guise of preventing some climate problem,” he said.
The Hoover Institution, which received about $45m, claimed to produce no work on climate change – while displaying on its website an article by a Hoover research fellow on an August 2013 Hoover poll on economic, energy and environmental issues.
"Hoover has no institutional initiatives on climate change,” a spokeswoman, Eryn Witcher, wrote in an email. “Individual Hoover fellows research and write on a wide variety of topics of their own choosing, but we're not aware of any who are working in that field at this time, nor are we aware of any gifts or grants that have been received for that purpose.”
In the article, the Hoover fellow, Jeremy Carl, who works extensively on energy and climate issues, discussed climate change and fracking, concluding: “Many Democrats and liberals are in denial when it comes to reality on energy and climate policy, endorsing both science and political fiction.”
• This headline on this article was amended on 21 December 2013 to reflect that not all the $1bn referred to will have funded climate change work.

Saturday, 21 December 2013


Brisbane, January 26, 1895.

Unionism on Gympie.

Perhaps a brief account of the recent spasmodic attempt made to form a union here (Gympie) may not be unacceptable to readers of the WORKER. Consequently I shall endeavour to briefly acquaint you with the state of Labour affairs here, and to supply such facts and particulars as will enable your readers to form a pretty correct estimate as to the state of unionism on Gympie. It will be remembered that at the late general election the labour party here signalised itself by returning a Labour candidate as senior member. It appeared then, to judge from external manifestations of public feeling in reference to the political question, that the working classes of Gympie were earnest and intelligent Democrats. It now appears that such a conclusion, if really made, was a premature and erroneous one. The Gympie workers now seek to be lapsing into a state of chronic disintegration and apathy, and by showing a perverse and pernicious indifference towards politics, and unionism, they seem to be endeavouring to make some “atonement” for the grave political “offence” they committed at the late general election in returning a Labour candidate. There is a Workers' Political Organisation in Gympie, it is true, but it is no fallacy to say that it is only nominally existent. The workers here seem to forget that unionism is the means to the accomplishment of a great object – the securing of just Labour conditions; and that it should be the inviolable duty of all workers to collectively and individually maintain an attitude of unceasing agitative energy and never-sleeping vigilance toward the universally momentous subject of political reform.
Frank Asterisk.

* * *


To begin at the beginning: A considerable number of Gympie bush workers depends upon the billet-wood industry for their living, and “support” themselves by either cutting and splitting billet wood, or by carting the wood to the different mines on the field. But the conditions both carters and cutters have to labour under are such as to render it a piece of irony to say that they “make their living” at billet-wood getting! Excessive, blind and ruinous competition, in the form of tendering for contracts, has reduced prices so low that many of the wretched wood-cutters have to live in a hopeless state of semi-starvation and nakedness, while a large percentage of the carters have, through competing with one another, been obliged to mortgage their teams to the storekeepers. But still competition runs on, and prices are still on the down grade. Under such circumstances it became apparent to such cutters as possessed any spirit and intelligence, that the time had come when they should endeavour to form a union, and make a resolute, combined and concerted attempt to check the progress of ruinous competition, and to secure for themselves something like a fair price for their labour.
Frank Asterisk.

* * *


Accordingly, a meeting of the cutters was held in the Miner's Hall on the 1st of Dec. last, and preliminary action was taken with regard to the formation of a union. It was noted at the meeting, however, that the attendance on the occasion was very small, there being only about twenty cutters present, notwithstanding the fact that there were fully ninety or one hundred cutters knowing to be working around Gympie, exclusive of the carters. A second meeting brought about no more gratifying results, the majority of cutters seeming to treat the movement with contempt. At the meetings in question, facts were adduced to show that cutters were receiving 6s. 6d. to 7s. per cord for their wood, which prices would enable them to make, on an average, from 21s. To 28s. (the maximum) per week, all expenses having to be deducted out of this sum, the earnings being in the gross. It was also pointed out that it was impossible for white men – for civilised beings – to live decently on such wage. It was also pointed out that the carters in many cases made only 13s. 9d. per day, which sum represented the gross earnings of an average man and a four-horse team per day after deducting the cutter's share out of it. This is democratic and golden Gympie town. After doing our utmost to organise the cutters, we found that we could get no more than thirty of them to join in the movement. In less than three weeks there were about a dozen blacklegs among us, who seceded and sold their wood under the union price (8s.). The result was that we had to dissolve our union.

Frank Asterisk, Gympie.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Joyce making it up on road funding

Media release.

Anthony Albanese MP.
Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

Dec 17, 2013

Barnaby Joyce is rewriting history by seeking credit for road works in his New England electorate that were funded by the previous Labor Government.
In a statement released yesterday, Mr Joyce claimed he had secured $80 million to realign the 3km Bolivia Hill section of the New England Highway.
That’s nonsense. He’s making it up.
This project was funded in the 2013/14 Budget, announced in the Budget and reported in the local newspaper at the time.

The Federal Budget brought down last week has included $80 million in funding for the Bolivia Hill realignment.     
Tenterfield Star, May 22, 2013

The money was in the Budget. It’s there in black and white.
I visited the Bolivia Hill site in 2011 with MP Tony Windsor, who showed me how this upgrade was necessary to improve safety on this dangerous stretch of road.
After years of negativity in Opposition, the Coalition has so few plans for actually governing that it is being forced to re-announce Labor projects to make itself look busy.
Mr Joyce is not the only conservative politician making things up about road funding.
Yesterday NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay claimed the Abbott Government had allocated $220 million for the Bolivia Hill.
Upgrade, climbing lanes at Mount Ousley on the M1 Princes Highway, the construction of a level crossing at Scone and the Tourle Street Bridge duplication at Newcastle Port.
Again, the fact is that all of these projects were funded in the 2013-14 Budget.

Rather than misleading people about who funded what, Mr Joyce and Mr Gay should get work under way for these critical projects as soon as possible.

Abbott wipes hands of public transport

Media Release.

Anthony Albanese MP.
Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.  

Dec 17, 2013

Tony Abbott has wiped his hands of addressing traffic congestion in the nation's cities by scrapping billions of dollars of investment in commonwealth investment in public transport.

The Prime Minister’s irresponsible refusal to back urban rail will further choke the nation’s urban roads and stunt rates of productivity growth and job creation.
This comes on top of his total lack of a cities policy, as shown by his abolition of Labor’s Liveable Cities Program and Major Cities Unit.
The Coalition’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook statement, released today, shows Mr Abbott will renege on previous Labor commitments to fund a series of visionary public transport projects including:
  • Melbourne Metro;
  • Brisbane Cross River Rail;
  • Hobart Light Rail;
  • Tonsley Park Public Transport Project;
  • Perth Public Transport Package;
  • Gawler Rail Line Electrification;
  • Adelaide Transport Movement Study; and
  • Perth Airport Rail.
All of these public transport projects are aimed at clearing city roads of traffic congestion, which not only frustrates commuters, but is also a brake on productivity and jobs growth because it slows the movement of goods and services.
Australia’s economic health depends on having vibrant cities where people and goods can move freely and where businesses can thrive.
However, the abolition of the Liveable Cities Program will end co-operation between the commonwealth as states and territories on urban design, while scrapping the major cities unit effectively robs the federal bureaucracy of urban planning expertise.
Mr Abbott does not understand the connection between urban policy and prosperity, not to mention the responsibility of government to ensure cities are pleasant places to live.
His only contribution to cities policy is his plan to build more roads.

On Infrastructure Australia’s independent advice, our cities require investment in both road and rail.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Tanya Plibersek MP. Subjects: Marriage equality, Abbott Government’s first 100 days

coats arms

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development

Transcript of press conference
15 December, 2013

Tanya Plibersek: Last week we saw in the ACT, the court decided that indeed it’s the federal Parliament that needs to legislate for marriage equality in Australia. That means the federal Parliament needs to decide to end discrimination against same couples when it comes to marriage. I’m going to reintroduce into Parliament next year, a private member’s Bill that will make it possible for same sex couples who love each other to marry. What I’d like to see is conscience vote for Liberal and National Members of Parliament. Until Liberal and National Members of Parliament are allowed a conscience vote, it’s not possible for such legislation to pass. Ideally I’m looking for a Liberal or a National party member to co-sponsor this Bill. I’d like to see a Liberal or National party member put their name this private member’s leg with mine to show that this is a matter that’s above politics, that is bi-partisan. Of course not everyone agrees, but with a conscience vote, we’ll see a majority of Labor party members, and those Liberal and National party members who believe in marriage equality able to express that.
Journalist: Are you heartened by Malcolm Turnbull’s comments?
Plibersek: It’s been obvious for a long time that Malcolm Turnbull is a supporter of marriage equality. And he’s said in the past that he’d like to see a conscience vote in his own party. So ideally, it’d be wonderful if Malcolm was prepared to or able to co-sponsor such a Bill. But of course being a Cabinet minister, that makes that a little more difficult. So if not Malcolm, perhaps one of the Liberal backbenchers or a National party backbencher would be prepared to co-sponsor the Bill. If not, I’m sure that I’ll find someone in the Labor Party. But, there is a fundamental threshold question here. Unless Liberal and National party members are able to have a conscience vote there’s no way that this legislation can pass. So I’ll go to my party room in January, with a proposal that Labor would have a new private member’s Bill, and that I would sponsor that Bill.
But I won’t intro a new bill until Liberal and National members have a conscience vote. So it’s up to Tony Abbott really now to allow his members of Parliament to vote according to their conscience.
Journalist: It’s a hundred days since the Coalition … [inaudible)
Plibersek: Well, I think most Australians have worked out that Tony Abbott’s Government is not the Government they said they’d be. They said they’d be a Government of no surprises and no excuses. But so far it’s been nasty surprises and pathetic excuses. In every area of government policy we’ve seen broken promises. We’ve seen broken promises in health. They said they wouldn’t cut health funding, and they have. We’ve seen broken promises in education. They said they were a unity ticket with Labor on education funding, and instead they been dragged kicking and screaming to funding part of the Gonski funding model but not all of it, and indeed they are cutting Trades Training Centres. So they are cutting some school funding to pay for some other school funding. Trades Training Centres are more important than ever before. We see the jobs losses at Holden, the job losses at Qantas, the job losses in Gove at Rio Tinto, Electrolux, Simplot, all of these job losses. We need to have highly skilled highly trained workers. By cutting Trades Training Centres from high school , a $400 million cut there, you reduce the likelihood that young people come out of high school ready for the skilled trades jobs of the future. Across every area of government policy we’ve seen mis-steps, failures, and broken promises.
Journalist: Do you have anything to add on marriage equality?
Plibersek: I think now is really the time for Australians to say to their Government that we need a conscience vote on this. I think its time for Tony Abbott to allow his members of Parliament to follow their conscience and to vote in the federal Parliament for marriage equality.
Journalist: So with your conversations with Malcolm, how did that go, how did the conversation about marriage equality go?
Plibersek: Malcolm Turnbull is in a seat neighbouring mine, and I talk to him all the time about all sorts of issues, but I don’t talk about those conversations afterwards.
Journalist: [inaudible]
Plibersek: I think it’s very difficult for the Coalition to refuse a conscience vote…[inaudible]…so if there’s a CV we’ll see a number of people vote for marriage equality, I and think that it’s very likely there will be a conscience vote.


Monday, 16 December 2013

Queensland Economic Update: December 2013

Media Release.

Queensland Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt

December 13th, 2013.

I have produced this economic update to provide Queenslanders with a regular update on Queensland’s economy. The Queensland Government has cancelled a number of economic publications since being elected including analysis around the Queensland State Accounts and the Annual Economic Review.
The Queensland Economic Review by Queensland Treasury has also been cut back from a monthly to a quarterly release and appears to have been discontinued after January 2013. It is important that Queenslanders are informed about how our economy is tracking.


Full time jobs created/lost Nov 2013
While there was some recovery in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate which fell from 5.9% to 5.6% in November 2013 this only reflected growth in part time employment.
The unemployment rate also remains higher than at the election when it was 5.5%.
In November Queensland recorded the largest fall in full-time jobs in the nation at 5,500 seasonally adjusted. Every other State and Territory other than the ACT recorded growth in full-time jobs in November.
As at November there are 10,500 fewer full-time jobs in Queensland than when the Newman Government was elected in March 2012.
The participation rate or the percentage of Queenslanders looking for work has fallen by 1.1% since the election.
This means that there are more than 44,000 Queenslanders who are no longer counted in the unemployment statistics as they have given up looking for work.
If these Queenslanders were still included in the unemployment statistics the unemployment rate would now be far higher at 7.3% seasonally adjusted.

Economic Growth

Dwelling investment
The ABS Australian National Accounts data for the September Quarter 2013 recorded state final demand growth of 0.1% for Queensland over the quarter and 1.8% over the year. This is substantially lower growth than over the year leading up to the last State election of 7.5% (year to March quarter 2012).
Private final demand (-0.3%), private investment (-1.8%), dwelling investment (-1.7%) and business investment (-1.7%) all contracted in Queensland over the September quarter.
Dwelling investment in the September quarter was at its lowest level in over a decade. Growth in household spending also remained weak in the September quarter reflecting lower growth in employment and wages under the Newman Government.
Machinery and Equipment investment which is a leading indicator of private infrastructure investment fell by 7.5% over the quarter to be 5.9% lower over the year to September quarter 2013.

Numbers at a glance

Unemployment rate – 5.6% seasonally adjusted and 5.7% trend November 2013
Retail Trade – 0.4% in October 2013
Brisbane CPI Annual – 2.2%
National CPI Annual – 2.2%
RBA Cash Rate effective 5 Nov 2013 – 2.5%

December calendar of economic releases

2 December – Building Approvals October 2013
3 December – Retail Trade October 2013 and Reserve Bank Board Meeting
4 December – Australian National Accounts September Quarter 2013
5 December – Overseas Arrivals and Departures October 2013
6 December – Estimates of Industry Multifactor Productivity 2012-13
10 December – International Merchandise Trade November 2013
– Housing Finance October 2013, and NAB Business Confidence December
11 December – Westpac-Melbourne Institute Survey of Consumer Sentiment December
12 December – Labour Force November 2013
13 December – Lending Finance October 2013
17 December – International Merchandise Imports November 2013
– Interstate Trade Queensland September 2013
– Sales of New Motor Vehicles November 2013, RBA Board Minutes December
19 December – Labour Force Detailed November 2013 and RBA Bulletin December Quarter 2013

Arrogant LNP has already made up its mind on asset sales

Media Release.

December 12th, 2013.

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says it is well past the time the Premier and the Treasurer stopped lying to Queenslanders about their plans for asset sales.
“The Premier and Treasurer are pretending they have not made a decision to sell off state assets, when in fact everything they say and do suggest their plans are set in concrete,” Mr Pitt said.
“Since coming to office the arrogant LNP government has sold nearly $4 billion in public assets without the approval of voters, including the seven office blocks the Treasurer sold for $237 million less than they were worth."
“Sales have included $58 million in school property, $562 million for the seven office buildings, and $2.7 billion in Aurizon shares, and the $500 million sale of its stake in the Electranet business."
“They have also hired investment banks to start work on selling at least $6 billion more including assets belonging to Sunwater, Powerlink and the state’s toll roads."
“Now this arrogant LNP Government is starting scoping studies for selling more power industry assets."
“Despite their claim that asset sales are needed to pay down debt, under the Newman Government debt has risen by $7 billion to reach $69 billion in July this year."
“The $4 billion interest bill belongs solely to the Newman Government."
“Interest costs never reached that level under the former Labor Government and have only hit the $4 billion mark because the Newman Government has itself increased debt."
“They are lying to Queenslanders and taking us all for mugs.”
Mr Pitt said the announcement the QIC would remain state-owned was a “red herring”.
“Not selling the QIC is a no-brainer. The Newman Government just wants to be applauded for not doing something stupid,” he said.
Mr Pitt said the Premier’s promise not to sell the “poles and wires” could not be believed.
“The Newman Government is already selling Ergon’s forests that provide the actual poles and has today announced the sale of future income streams,” he said.
“The bottom line is this suggested model will result in asset sales. Private investors pay more than governments do to borrow funds and will be demanding to make a profit as well as the security of a degree of ownership,” he said.

Saturday, 14 December 2013


Media Release.
13 Dec 2013 

The establishment today of the Senate Select Committee on School Funding is necessary to hold the Government to account for its broken promises.

"I welcome the establishment of this committee - it will play a crucial role in exposing the consequences of the Abbott Government dumping their election commitments on schools" Shadow Minister for Education Kate Ellis said.

"This is part of the fight to ensure that the Abbott Government are held to account on their promise that no school will be worse off."

In the lead-up to the election, the Coalition could not have been clearer in their promises to the Australian people:

"We are committed to the student resource standard, of course we are. We are committed to this new school funding model"

- Christopher Pyne, Radio National Breakfast, 30 August 2013
"We have agreed to the government's school funding model"
- Christopher Pyne, Daily Telegraph Education Forum, 29 August 2013

"We will honour the agreements that Labor has entered into. We will match the offers that Labor has made. We will make sure that no school is worse off."
- Tony Abbott, Press Conference, 2 August 2013

"As far as I am concerned, as far as Christopher Pyne is concerned, as far as the coalition is concerned, we want to end the uncertainty by guaranteeing that no school will be worse off"
- Tony Abbott, Press Conference, 2 August 2013

"You can vote Liberal or Labor and you'll get exactly the same about of funding for your school"
- Christopher Pyne, Press Conference, 29 August, 2013

"This committee is only necessary because the Prime Minister has refused to repeat his pre-election promises - he has completely walked away from the needs-based
funding model recommended by the Gonski panel" Kate Ellis said.

"In Parliament last week, the Government admitted States would be free to cut their budgets and abandon reforms - even if they had already struck agreements with the Commonwealth."

"The Prime Minister will not re-commit to all six of the school funding loadings that were at the heart of the Gonski recommendations: for students with disability, Indigenous students, small schools, remote schools, students with limited English and disadvantaged students."

"The Government has refused to guarantee that money will actually reach the schools that need it most."

The Select Committee will inquire into the secret 'no strings' funding deals the Government announced it had brokered with States last week, including the consequences of trashing agreements about State funding indexation and co-contributions, which Labor put in place to put an end to education cuts once and for all.

"The Abbott Government cannot claim to be serious about school reform until it commits to match Labor's funding over six years, and our Gonski reforms" Kate Ellis said.

"If the Government continues in its refusal to honour its election promises, our most disadvantaged children will pay the price."


Media Release.
10 Dec. 2013 

Despite heading to the election with an iron clad promise to honour Early Years Quality Fund wage increases for low paid early childhood educators, the Abbott Government has today asked for the money back.

"This Government is not just breaking their election commitments, they are now asking child care providers to do it for them" Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Kate Ellis said.

"This latest flip-flop rom the Abbott Government is seriously bizarre, totally chaotic and just plain cruel".

Just last week, Tony Abbott told the Parliament that his Government would keep its election promise to honour Early Years Quality Fund contracts:

"We will absolutely honour all of our commitments and contracts, and contracts which have been entered into will be honoured".

But today, Sussan Ley, "invited" providers to "do the right thing" and return funds which have not even be paid yet.

Providers are now in the impossible position of being asked by the Government to cancel long overdue and fully funded pay rises on the eve of Christmas.

"Imagine looking some of Australia's lowest-paid but highest-value workers in the eye and telling them that you will have to choose between delivering a long-promised pay rise, or doing what the a chaotic government wants and returning the money," Kate Ellis said.

"When is a broken promise not a broken promise? When it's outsourced, apparently."

"If elected, the Coalition will honour funds contracted from the EYQF"

"Ripping money away from educators will lead to increased fees, and comes on top of the Abbott Government's four year freeze on the indexation of the Child Care Rebate cap. Tens of thousands of families will be worse off."

"This is a disgraceful attack on our dedicated and low paid educators across the child care sector."

"Today's shambolic announcement is just the latest broken promise and makes an absolute mockery of the sensible, methodical Government promised by Tony Abbott".

Tanya Plibersek MP. Subjects: Holden, NBN

Transcript of interview with Ben Fordham: Today Show, Channel 9

coats arms

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development

Transcript of interview with Ben Fordham
Today Show, Channel 9

December 13th, 2013 2:07 PM AEST

Ben Fordham: How are we all?
Malcom Turnbull: We’re very well.
Fordham: Everyone friendly?
Tanya Plibersek: Yeah.
Fordham: Ok, we’ll keep our answers short and sharp today because there’s a lot to get through if we can. It’s been a devastating week for Holden workers after the company confirmed it will cease manufacturing cars in Australia by 2017. Today a warning from Toyota that uncompetitive work practices could force it to go the same way as Holden, Ford and others. So does that mean, Malcolm, we need to have more flexible agreements i.e. Work Choices, things like that, in the automotive sector?
Turnbull: I think what it means is you need greater productivity. My understanding is that the wages of auto workers in Japan and Australia are comparable but the productivity here is a lot less.
Fordham: The bosses want more flexibility though and there are plenty of people within the Liberal Party who want a return to more flexibility in the workplace, so why wouldn’t you deliver that to this industry if that’s what they need?
Turnbull: Well, we’ve committed to an industrial relations policy and as you know, Work Choices is dead, buried and cremated but nonetheless it’s incumbent on both the unions and the company and Toyota to be able to come to some settlement in terms of more productive work practices because if they can’t, if they can’t then Toyota will no doubt follow Holden. And then everyone loses.
Fordham: It’s been revealed today, Tanya, that the executives in the US, the Holden executives were working on this decision for months. It was months in the making therefore it’s a little bit …
Plibersek: Well, no Ben, what I think was revealed is they had two plans. If we stay this is what we need to stay, if we can’t stay this is how we leave. And any business makes contingency plans. As late as Tuesday this week, when Mike Devereaux was talking to the Productivity Commission he was saying no decision had been made. What changed was he went into – we went into question time and Joe Hockey dared Holden to leave and they took his dare.
Fordham: You honestly believe that’s why they pulled out?
Plibersek: I do.
Fordham: As a result of what Joe Hockey said in question time?
Plibersek: Seeing that, you’ve seen the text messages being sent by Holden executives saying “Are you watching this, this bloke wants us to leave, he’s daring us, he’s goading us.” I think it was very significant in their decision.
Fordham: Ok, let’s move on right now. The Government is set to break a key election promise on the NBN, Malcolm Turnbull’s baby. The pledge to deliver download speeds of 25 megabytes per second to the majority of Australians by 2016.
Now Malcom, I know that you will blame the former government for this.  I know that you will bore us with all sorts of details on the NBN but can you just admit in the interest of transparency that what you said before the election is different to what you were saying now?
Turnbull: Well, what I said before the election is we would tell the truth about the NBN and we would for the first time get a thoroughly objective, independent analysis of where the project is now, where it could have gone to if Labor had stayed in Government which is to run up another $29 billion in debt and a much, much slower roll out and what the options are. Options are constrained by the mess we’ve been left with by Labor.
Fordham: But in the interests of transparency, you will admit now won’t you, that what you said before the election is different to what you’re saying now?
Turnbull: What I said before the election was that we believed we could get all Australians 25 megs by 2016 and the company has come back with its advisers and said they do not believe that is achievable. But you know what that is? That is the first time the NBN Co has ever written a report which does not coincide with the political agenda of the Minister and that’s because I’m the first Communications Minister – it’s true.
Fordham: Come on, Tanya…
Turnbull: You can’t deny that. I’m the first Communications Minister that has allowed the NBN to tell the truth. Stephen Conroy bullied them into telling lies again and again and again. And that’s the tragedy.
Plibersek: OK, two things to say. This is a report written by Malcolm’s mate that he owns a yacht with.
Turnbull: That is outrageous. That is not true. The report on Labor…
Fordham: Hang on, is it true or not true?
Turnbull: It’s completely untrue.
Plibersek: You don’t own a yacht with him?
Turnbull: I own a yacht, own not a yacht actually, it’s an old couta boat, it’s really better described as a menace to shipping and JB Rousselot, who is one of the people on that review – I own that boat with him.
Plibersek: The answer is yes.
Turnbull: No, hang on, wait a minute.
Fordham: Hang on a minute, Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm.
Turnbull: No, we’ve got to tell the truth, the truth about Labor was written by KordaMentha, not by JB Rousselot, and the Boston Consulting Group, it was not written by JB Rousselot, and you know that and you are smearing JB Rousselot because you are ashamed of the billions of dollars your government wasted and the mess that we have to clean up, Tanya, and it is a disgrace. Tens of billions of dollars…
Plibersek: Ben, Ben… This is a clearly broken promise.
Turnbull: You’ve broken your promise (to Fordham) to keep the answers short, you see.
Fordham: You’re the one who didn’t keep it short.
Turnbull: I never said I would.
Plibersek: The Prime Minister said a minimum of 25 megabits per second download speed, he said that before the election, very clearly.  Promise broken.
Turnbull: Well, what we said was that was our objective.
Plibersek: Promise broken.
Plibersek: No, no, no the Prime Minister promised that.
Turnbull: We made it very clear that all of our objectives, all of our targets were subject to getting to the facts –
Plibersek: That’s not true.
Fordham: This is supposed to be a lovely Christmas get together.
Turnbull: Well Tanya, you were –
Fordham: Let’s look at what you turned Christmas into you two.
Turnbull: Let’s get this straight.
Fordham: No, Malcolm we’re not going to. We’re moving on Malcolm.
Turnbull: You went to the election with forecasts on the NBN which you and your Cabinet knew were false. And you didn’t tell the Australian people the truth.
Plibersek: Broken promise.
Fordham: Malcolm, you need to have respect for what I’m doing here right because I’ve got certain constraints that I’ve got to follow. Now we’re moving on.
Turnbull: Good. Moving forward as someone said.
Fordham: You have found your own way of admitting that what you said beforehand is different to what you’ve said now. You have found your own way of admitting it.
Turnbull: Well, what I’ve done is made sure the truth is told …
Fordham: If you could, both of you, we need to end this nicely because this is our Christmas edition of In the House, if you could get anything in the world for each other for Christmas without any budget constraints, anything, what would you give Malcolm for Christmas?
Plibersek: Well, I had a really good present for him but I don’t want to give it to him now because he’s being mean.
Fordham: Come on.
Plibersek: I know that Malcolm and Lucy have been big supporters of the Wayside Chapel so I’d make a donation on their behalf to the Wayside Chapel.
Turnbull: That’s very sweet and that’s a lovely thing to do.
Plibersek: Now you’re sorry you interrupted me, aren’t you?
Turnbull: No, no, I tell you what I would give Tanya and it’s not really mine to give but I would give Tanya lots of time, quiet time away from politicians and journalists to spend time with Anna, Joe and Louis, her three very beautiful children. That’s lots of hugs from those 3.
Fordham: See, we all get along in the end, don’t we?
Turnbull: We do.
Plibersek: Well, mostly.
Fordham: Merry Christmas, everyone, from all of us here at the Plibersek and Turnbull families.

Tanya Plibersek MP. SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government abandon’s Australia’s automotive industry.

Transcript of Press Conference – Wednesday, 11 December 2013





ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, TANYA PLIBERSEK: Thank you very much everyone for coming this afternoon. I want to say a few words about the closure of Holden in Australia. Today’s a shocking day for Holden workers and the first thing I want to say is that we are very concerned for their futures, that we are thinking of them and their families particularly in the lead up to Christmas, this is terrible news for them to get and that we will do everything that we can to support and assist them. It’s a shocking day for Holden workers. It’s also a terrifying day for other auto industry workers. We know that component manufacturers will be affected by this. We know that there are all sorts of industries that support auto manufacturing in Australia that will be affected by this, including research and development, logistics and so on. All of them will feel this. It’s also a very frightening day for Toyota workers, seeing the fate of fellow auto industry workers and of course they would be nervous about their futures as well.
It’s very unusual to see one decision, like the Government’s decision to rip $500 million out of this industry, that has such huge ramifications for Australia. We are talking about probably 200,000 jobs that rely on the auto industry here in Australia. This one decision to rip out $500 million has extraordinary ongoing effects for the industry. It was Joseph Benedict Chifley, as my friend Nick Champion said, Joseph Benedict Chifley who watched the first car roll off the production line at Fisherman’s Bend, and it will be his name sake, it will be Joseph Benedict Hockey, who sees the last car roll off the production line. And it’s unfortunately a decision of government that has made it so. Treasurer Hockey dared Holden to withdraw from Australia, and he got his way.
We saw yesterday in the Parliament Treasurer Hockey make an extraordinary show, manning up, puffed up, shouting, arguing, making a point of daring Holden to leave. Well, they’ve left. We had evidence from Mike Devereux yesterday that there had been no decision made, that Holden hadn’t decided about its future in Australia. We had the Treasurer goading them to leave Australia and on top of that, the Acting Prime Minister writing a letter that Holden and, you know, anyone who had seen the letter would think was designed specifically to be released for public consumption, and indeed that was the conclusion that Holden drew.
Instead of picking up the phone, instead of decent dialogue, instead of an adult approach that would keep these vital jobs in Australia, we had the Treasurer and the Acting Prime Minister goading and daring Holden to pull out. Today, the response of the Acting Prime Minister is that at least Holden workers now have certainty. Well, that’s a very curious definition of certainty. Yes, they’ve have got the certainty that they’ll lose their jobs. Other auto industry workers have the certainty that there will be other job losses in the auto industry. Workers at Toyota and in other related fields have the fear that they will be next, that they will be the domino that falls next. It is a very curious definition of certainty.
This government said that they would be a government of no surprises and no excuses. And today in Question Time, we had an absolute litany of excuses. Excuses for why Holden’s made this decision to leave. We had Christopher Pyne saying that this was a decision made months ago in the United States. It’s only just been announced today for reasons he would not say, but it’s a decision made months ago. We had Christopher Pyne also saying that this decision was nothing to do with the Federal Government. That’s an absolutely extraordinary claim when it’s been clear from everything that Holden has said that they were waiting for a clear signal from the Commonwealth Government about what the Government would do for the future of the auto industry here in Australia. It’s extraordinary to say that this is nothing to do with the Government when we have had Holden negotiating, holding back, seeking to talk to the Government, making clear that they hadn’t made a decision. We’ve have had a Productivity Commission inquiry that’s kicked off any decision from the Government about auto industry assistance to sometime in the future. For now, the Government to wash their hands of this and say it’s nothing to do with them is a tragic day for Holden. It’s a tragic day for the auto industry. It’s a tragic day for manufacturing in Australia. I think most Australians would regard it as a tragic day for Australia. It’s extraordinary to see a Commonwealth Government drive the car industry out of Australia. Any questions?
JOURNALIST: I have a question to Senator Carr, as an outgoing Industry Minister as it were, do you accept that as some of your opponents are saying today, you should share a fair bit of the blame in that in the last three years maybe we should have seen more effort, and a car plan that would work and be sustainable?
SENATOR KIM CARR: No, I don’t. Just think what happened during the economic crisis. General Motors in the United States went into bankruptcy. Yet in Australia, we are able to secure the assets for the future. And around the world, when the automotive industry was in retreat, in Australia we attracted additional investment. Now, we put $1.8 billion on the table. We attracted $25 billion, $25.9 billion worth of new investment. So it is just not true. This was a decision that did not have to be made. It was not necessary that this had to end this way. This is a government’s responsibility. Now General Motors Holden had been talking to us in government and to the Opposition when they were in opposition. And we all know what it would take to keep the car industry in place in this country. I’ve indicated this week considerably less than $150 million per annum, remembering that the current car plan comes to an end in 2020. We would not have to actually draw upon the budget at all until 2017. Because this was all about investments after 2017. So it was absolutely unnecessary. This is a tragedy that need not have had to happen in this country.
JOURNALIST: [inaudible] that Mike Devereux this afternoon said that the decision wasn’t made until after he gave evidence to the Productivity Commission yesterday –
CARR: No it does not, it does not. It does not. I know this company well, I know these people well. Where was the Minister? Why hasn’t the Minister been to Detroit to talk to the leadership? If they were serious, why hasn’t this government gone to Detroit to talk? Why would you issue a letter like the Acting Prime Minister did yesterday? Why wouldn’t you pick up the telephone? Why wouldn’t they have responded to the business case proposal that General Motors has had before the new government since its election? So the facts are very simple here. The Government has sought to drive this industry out of Australia because they believe there is some ideological quest that has to be pursued and it became more urgent after what we saw with GrainCorp. Now, for seven days in a row, we have had senior Ministers for seven days, senior Ministers, back grounding against the Industry Minister, demanding that the company make a decision. They have been playing chicken with this company. The Government has been playing chicken for months. Well, they got what they wanted.
JOURNALIST: We’re getting the message out of Detroit that General Motors felt it was no longer sustainable to make cars in Australia, something Devereux said this afternoon.
CARR: And that’s what that means. The business case doesn’t stack up. Why not? Because the Australian Government would not contribute, would not co-invest as governments all around the world do. In Australia the Government turned its back, turned its back on 200,000 Australians. Turned its back on the 50,000 workers employed directly in this industry. Everyone knows what the consequences are except this Government. They have played chicken with the industry and now we have the consequence.
JOURNALIST: Toyota says they are now facing unprecedented pressure, that’s a very bad signal isn’t it?
CARR: That’s the point. All the component manufacturers are faced with the same pressures. We’ve had the dollar increase in value by 65 per cent. You would have thought the Government would understand what that meant. We did. We were prepared to talk to them and I know if we had been re- elected, the contracts would have been signed. There would be no need for this decision today, if there’d been a different result at the last federal election.
JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, What is your response to Mr Hockey’s claims that Labor didn’t show the same outrage when Mitsubishi and Ford left Australia?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I’ll say a couple of things. I think for a start that it is extraordinary that the Treasurer’s focus today in Question Time has been making political points. The second thing I’d say is we have never been anything other than devastated when a single job is lost in Australia. But the difference with today’s decision is a company has been goaded into leaving Australia. They’ve been, as Senator Carr said, the Government was playing chicken with Holden and the workers are the ones that lost out.
CARR: There are two points. Mitsubishi did not want to invest in Australia. I found out about Mitsubishi during the election campaign in 2007. I found out from a dealer who, of course, advised me that there had been a return on an order for fleet cars. That’s how I found out, during the previous government, during the previous government. In regard to Ford, the Ford motor company did not want to invest. General Motors did want to invest. They gave us the choice. The Government has made a choice and the choice is not to have an automotive industry in this country. That is what we have got to appreciate here. This is a policy decision of Government. No one else but the Government has to be held responsible for their decision.
JOURNALIST: Treasurer Hockey clearly believes that he was being gamed by General Motors.
CARR: Look, I’ve been involved in this trade for a long time. And I’ve heard these sorts of idiotic statements from neo-liberals. You know these are the North Shore bankers talking. They are only too happy to bail out the banks when they need help but when it comes to blue collar workers, in the automotive industry they think there is something illegitimate in that. Look, let’s be clear about this. There is a section of the Liberal Party that actually hates the automotive industry and they have expressed their views for as long as I’ve been engaged in this debate.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you everyone.