Saturday, 30 January 2016

Political meetings June 22, 1895.


Labour Member Turley at South Brisbane.

Labour member Turley addressed another meeting of his constituents in the Oddfellows' Hall Merton street, South Brisbane, last week. In the course of his remarks he pointed out the unfairness of the Government's policy of retrenchment and the excuses put forward by its supporters in defence of the more highly paid Civil servants, whilst the lower paid employ'es were made to bear the brunt of the retrenchment. Referring to the statement of the president of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce, that the commercial interests were not sufficiently represented in Parliament, Mr. Turley said not only has the commercial interests a big voice in the Assembly, but it owns the Upper Chamber altogether – a fact which is a continual menace to reforms. He scathingly criticised the Colonial Secretary's unemployed statistics; and as for subsidising industries in the hands of private enterprise, he declared his opposition to it, believing that it was dangerous to allow the people's credit to be used in immoral trade. It would be much safer for Government itself to undertake the sole control and management of many things that were now subsidised. Labour members Jackson also spoke, both members meeting with an excellent reception.


Labour Member Reid at Toowong.

Mr. M. Reid, M.L.A. Addressed a crowded meeting of his constituents at the Foresters' Hall, Paddington, on Tuesday last, Mr. George Wright occupied the chair. Among others on the platform were Messrs. Fisher, Hardacre, Daniels, Rawlings and Kerr, M.L.A.
After dealing with certain false rumours regarding himself, with Mr. Barlow's administration of the lands Department, the Treasurer's surplus, and the Premier's position as president of the Queensland Political Association, Mr. Reid had a few words to say about the position of the Labour Party and Opposition. Speaking as the member for the district, he thought it was very important that there should be an advanced party in politics. Mr. Charles Powers, the present leader of the Opposition, made a speech at Maryborough a few weeks ago, and he felt that he must compliment Mr. Powers upon it. (Cheers) He held that there was a necessity for an advanced party in politics, apart from what was known as the Opposition and the Government. He thought it would be to the great advantage of the country if what was known as the Opposition was returned to the House strong enough to oust the present Government and establish in its place a Democratic Government. He did not know but that the labour party would help them. As to the present Opposition, outside Mr. Powers and Mr. Drake, he did not know one man in it whom he would trust out of his sight in politics. (Cheers) If the Opposition got stronger, as he trusted it would, it would attract to it, as all powerful parties did, all sorts of rag tag and bob-tail politicians. They would hang on to it, and, as they always did when a criss came, would desert it for the other side. Some people said that the Labour Party ought to join the Opposition, go to the country, and come back strong enough to oust the Government and form a new one. What would it mean if the Labour Party coalesced with the country? It would mean that the Labour party, who were the most advanced of any party, who were more earnest because younger, and who were more pure at present because they had not been long enough in politics to be corrupted – (cheers) – he hoped as long as they stopped there they would not be – would be merged in and become mere voting machines of the party that would be in power. (Cheers) They would cease to be the advanced party; they would cease to represent the aspirations of the people for progress, and another party would spring up to take the place and advocate the policy which had been theirs. For that reason he objected to any coalition with the Opposition. (Cheers) For the Labour Party to coalesce with the Opposition would be a deathblow to their hopes for a long time to come. As the advanced party in politics they would always be willing to give any Government independent support to measures of which they approved. On these grounds, he must object to any coalition of any sort - ( hear, hear!) - but he was strongly in favour of supporting any party which would bring forward measures that would benefit the whole of the people of the colony. (Cheers)
Mr. Reid concluded an excellent address with a criticism of the disadvantages of Party or Cabinet Government, and appealed to those present at his meeting to see that their names were put on the roll. The speech was well applauded. Mr. J. Doyle and Mr. J. Beck moved a resolution protesting against the unwarrantable interference of the Government with the names of persons qualified to be on the electoral roll. This was carried unanimously, and the meeting terminated.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Bill Shorten, Subjects: Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; NSW Preselection; Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals 15 per cent GST on everything



JOANNE RYAN, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LALOR: Obviously I’d like to welcome everybody to the electorate of Lalor today to Iramoo Primary School, a fabulous school doing a wonderful job with the students here. I’d like to welcome Bill, I’d like to welcome Kate and I’m incredibly excited to be here to make the announcement that Bill and Kate will make today in this particular school, and in this particular electorate. Of course the work, the education work that began under former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who was our local member here. So it’s an important place for us to be today, to honour that work to see that work go forward. And to be at this particular school today, which is a school where students have a lot to overcome and where through national partnerships and through needs based funding this school has done extraordinary work to bring every child on, to make sure that every child is learning and to measure and monitor that growth in a meaningful way. So it’s a great place to be, thank you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Joanne and it’s great to be here with my Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis and of course Joanne Ryan, Member for Lalor. Joanne was a distinguished school principal over many years before she ran for Parliament for the Labor Party, and she certainly wears her education heart on her sleeve. And to that end, today I am pleased to announce on behalf of the Labor Party that a Shorten Labor Government will make the most significant improvement to school education in 2 generations. Our plan is called Your Child. Our Future.
It will ensure a strong focus on the needs of every individual child. It will ensure that we have better supported teachers, better resourced classrooms. That we have more support for our teachers going forward, that we have more individual attention for our students. It’ll also importantly ensure that we have stronger support for children with special needs throughout Australia.
With Labor’s policy every school and every child will benefit, because after all there is nothing more important to a country’s economic prosperity then making investments in education. It’s sad to say but recent reports show that Australia’s educational outcomes are going backwards internationally, and that’s just not good enough for the future of our kids. We are running for instance, in mathematics now 17th in the world. Imagine if you will, if Australia was coming 17th in the medal tally at the Olympics, the Government would certainly do everything it could to fix it. And there is nothing more important than the future of our children.
You know today and this week, millions of Australian parents, including Chloe and myself sent their children off for the first day of school, and like every parent Chloe and I want to see our 3 children get the very best outcomes in education that they can.
But that’s in fact the big difference between Labor and Liberal. Labor wants to see everyone’s children get the best possible start in life, to set them up with the skills and resilience, to be able to compete in the world of tomorrow, for the jobs of tomorrow. So my message today in particular is to the parents of Australia, from one parent to another; it is only Labor who will put your children’s future first.
When you think about it, in our cities and our suburbs, in our country towns and along our coast, in state schools, Catholic schools, in private schools, wherever you live, we want to make sure that every child in every school gets every chance to be the best they can be in their educational opportunities.
A Shorten Labor Government will fully fund the Gonski recommendations in education, funded in full and on time. Labor is able to make this promise because we’ve already explained how we would provide funds from the Budget through the improvements that we suggested last year to be able to do this.
There’s a lot of talk about innovation in Australia. But unless you are prepared to fully invest in our school system, in the education of our young people, talk about innovation is just simply talk.
So therefore, at the next election, Australians have a very clear choice; we can choose to invest in our education system and in our future with Labor, or we can choose Mr Turnbull and his Liberal team’s cuts to education. I’d like to hand over to Kate Ellis my Shadow Minister to talk further about the detail of this fantastic announcement today.
KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Well, thank you very much to Bill, thank you also to Joanne for hosting us here, and for Moira for welcoming us to your school at such a busy time of year. It is a great pleasure to talk a little bit more about this policy announcement. And I want to make a couple of things very clear; there is focus on the fact that we are today recommitting to funding in full and on time years 5 and 6 of the current school funding agreements. That’s very important, but today’s announcement is also about more than that. This is about a permanent shift to ensure that Australia’s schools and Australian students have the resources and the support that they need to get the education that they deserve.
This is not just about money, this is about the difference that can be achieved in our classrooms through new programs and through evidence based policy to make sure that every child in every school gets the attention that they need and deserve. This is about each and every child and each and every school, but it’s also about more than that too. This is about our economy; this is about Australia’s future. This is about jobs and making sure that young Australians have the skills for the jobs of the future, and this is about innovation.
Let’s make one thing very clear; Malcolm Turnbull can talk as much as he likes about innovation, but if he continues to rip funding out of Australia’s classrooms, that is absolutely all it is; it is talk. If you want to innovate for Australia’s future, there is no one more important way to do that than to ensure that we have Australia’s school system right. We need to make the change now, or our children will be left behind.
Now, we also know that today is about backing our teachers and our principals and those people who work so hard in the classroom. We want to make sure that they have the resources and the support that they need. We want to make sure that they have the evidence base and the data that they require to give our children the best education, and we also want to make sure that we lift teaching quality in this nation so that every child is receiving the teaching support that they need.
We want to make sure that our entire school system is built around evidence and is built around improvement, not about covering over from the cracks and the cuts that Liberal governments continue to inflict upon them.
And I want to particularly talk about one group of students today, and that is, students with a disability. It is incredibly important that by ensuring that we are providing the funding for the sector blind needs-based funding model that our schools need and deserve, that every child will receive the support that they deserve. We know that the Liberal Government have walked away from students with disability and then cut the interim funding that was put in place in order to paper over that. We stand here today saying that we will work with states and territories to ensure that when the data is received, we work to roll out the disability loading to every school across Australia.
But more than that, we today commit that we will immediately return the money that the Abbott and Turnbull Governments ripped from students with disability and put in place $320 million in interim funding immediately upfront.
And finally, I want to say that I have no doubt that the Government will say this is about money, this is about Labor throwing money at our schools. I want to make very clear; this is about restoring accountability and transparency that Christopher Pyne ripped away when he was Education Minister. It was the current Liberal Government who said that they believed in no strings attached funding to our schools. That will not continue under Labor. We are providing substantial funds. We’re talking about $4.5 billion over the forward estimates, and we are talking about reversing all of the Government’s cuts over the next 10 years and providing some $37 billion in 10-year provisions, but that does not come with no strings attached. That comes with the agreement that we expect the State Governments to keep to their side of the deal and that we expect that that money will be used in a transparent and accountable fashion on the programs that our students need the most. Thank you very much.
SHORTEN: Thanks, Kate and we’d be pleased to take questions about this announcement.
JOURNALIST: Bill you said you will fully fund it. How are you getting that money? Where’s it coming from?
SHORTEN: Last year, my Labor team worked very hard to outline where we could stop wasteful government spending and where we could take other initiatives to be able to afford important, economy-shifting, life-changing propositions such as properly funding our schools in Australia. So specifically, Labor has said we will make multinationals pay their fair share, and I will come back to that, but Labor, and only Labor, can be really trusted to chase down the multinationals to make them pay their fair share. Secondly, we’re going to go after the unsustainable and excessively generous superannuation tax concessions that high net wealth individuals currently enjoy. Thirdly, we’ve made it very clear that we will have an excise on tobacco products increase over the next three years, but it isn’t just those measures. We’ve also said that we will stop wasting taxpayer money on the folly of Tony Abbott’s failed emissions reduction fund schemes and we’ve also made it really, really clear that we’re not going to indulge the National Party of Australia with some Malcolm Turnbull buy-off for the leadership by a baby bonus which no-one has asked for and this nation simply can’t afford. So we’re actually breaking the mould of an opposition. Not only are we announcing our policies well ahead of the election in August and September, but we can already explain how we pay for them all. But I did mention this point about multinationals. I don’t know about you, but I know late last year many Australians were staggered to find out that 579 Australian companies paid no tax. That made people boiling mad just before Christmas. Australians go and pay their tax, small businesses pay their taxes, the tradies and the contractors have got to pay their taxes. We find that the top end of town aren’t paying taxes and today, Apple, which is a household name, $8 billion of [revenue] in Australia, that’s right, $8 billion of profit in Australia paid no tax.
JOURNALIST: So Bill, that’s one of those measures that you’ll be funding this with. How many other policies are being funded by those measures though?

SHORTEN: We’ve fully explained and we can cost – we are in the black in terms of what we’ve promised and we have made some promises on higher education, only Labor can be trusted to make sure that –

JOURNALIST: There are other measures –

SHORTEN: Let me be clear, let me be clear. You’ve asked a question and I will come to any question you have. And we’re not going to get the Liberals try and just smear this campaign. We’re very clear. We’ve announced more savings to the bottom line, more resolutions of tax rorts and loopholes than any opposition has previously. You know, we are happy in terms of what we’ve said. We’ve got funded policies. It’s because of our hard work last year that we’re able to get behind the millions of parents and their kids and promise them a better future, better ability to compete with the world, and by the way, you know, the Liberals when they attack us for properly funding education, isn’t that really the problem at the core of Mr Turnbull and his Liberals? They see the education of Australia’s children as a cost. We see it as an investment.

JOURNALIST: But Bill, those measures, so there’s multinational tax avoidance scrapping the emission reduction fund, have they been promised to other policies?

SHORTEN: No, this all, overall, we’ve promised over the next 10 years more than $70 billion. Let me repeat that number, because it’s a big number – we’ve promised over $70 billion worth of reductions to the budget bottom line and that is why we are able to pay for the promises which we’re making.

JOURNALIST: So it’s not magic pudding economics to say it’s fully funded?

SHORTEN: No, if fact this is – the reverse is true. Only Labor’s got costed policies for the next election.

JOURNALIST: And Mr Shorten tis hat more than promised under the Gonski reforms?

SHORTEN: Our changes go further. And by that, what the school system want, the poor old State Education Departments want, what the Catholic Education Commission want, what the non-government, the independent schools want, is they want funding certainty. Kate said it before. Our approach is breaking the age-old argument of state versus private. You know, we want to consign that argument to the past. We believe in a sector-neutral approach. We believe in an approach which is needs-based funding. Our policy, every school, every child, will get the extra resources they need to get every chance to succeed in the future. Our education policy is an economic policy.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Budget broadly though, do you believe in balancing the Budget and if so, when will Labor get to that point?

SHORTEN: We certainly believe in fiscal responsibility. That’s why we’ve worked so hard last year, and we’ll have more to say in coming weeks and months. The job’s not over for us. We are working very hard. But what I’d say is, we do believe of course in fiscal responsibility. But what I get is that life doesn’t boil down to this sort of bleak choice where Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and the Liberal team say: if you want any improvements in your education or hospitals you got over 15 per cent GST. Today is also a shot across the bows of the Federal Government’s absolute hunger to put a 15 per cent tax on the price of everything. We can properly fund our schools, without making the cost of living an intolerable burden for middle class and working-class people in this country.

JOURNALIST: So you haven’t put a time frame on returning to surplus?

SHORTEN: Our aim is over the cycle, over the 10 years.

JOURNALIST: Just on New South Wales Labor, if i may, do you support moves from –

SHORTEN: Just before we get to that issue of New South Wales Labor, are there other questions for my colleagues and I on education, because you know this week –

ELLIS: Could I add to that schools question? I just want make clear, the question was: are we delivering more than what was in the promised in the agreements and I think we need to be really upfront about that. Today what we are delivering is funding for the last two years of the agreements but we are going beyond that. Today we are delivering a complete reversal of the current government’s $30 billion cuts to our schools over the next 10 years. That’s what we’re promising here today. It’s not about just the last two years of the agreement. It’s about making sure that we have the provision so that we can adequately fund our schools permanently moving forward and so that we will be on the right footing to then be able to negotiate the next agreements, and ensure that we continue to drive reform in our schools beyond the current agreements, but certainly, first of all, by finishing the existing agreements.

JOURNALIST: Do you support the ban on MPs travelling to Israel while the settlements are still being built in the contested areas?

SHORTEN: There is no ban in place. I trust my MPs to be able to exercise judgment in terms of their overseas trips.

JOURNALIST: Do you support a potential ban?

SHORTEN: I support my MPs exercising their own common sense and views. I trust Labor’s representatives, I don’t see the need to start giving them travel instructions.

JOURNALIST: On Anthony Albanese, he’s announced that he’ll recontest Grayndler, with some other MPs it’s still unclear what’s happening in the Central Coast. Does Jill Hall have a future in the Parliament?

SHORTEN: Our Labor team will sort out their preselection’s in New South Wales. When you look at it, Labor is the picture of harmony compared to what’s going on in New South Wales in the Liberal Party. I mean, does Craig Kelly – is he getting challenged? Is Philip Ruddock going around for the 20th time? Bronwyn Bishop –  is she on the team or is she off the team or is she being thrown overboard? You’ve Tony Abbott overseas being the alternative to the Prime Minister. There a great deal of divisions between the New South Wales Liberal Party. I’m very confident that Labor will sort out its preselection’s. These are never easy things but we’re doing pretty well, I think, compared to the Liberal Party. I think any fair observer would agree on that.

JOURNALIST: You still have to sure up your own side. Would you like to see Jill Hall alongside you in Parliament?

SHORTEN: Jill does an excellent job, so sure she does a great job. I speak to all my team. Again, Let me be really clear, the Labor Party is far more united than the Liberal Party. Australians don’t want political parties just talking about themselves. Unfortunately for Malcolm Turnbull, whilst he’s the front man, who’s really pulling the strings in the Liberal Party? While he was away in America, we saw numerous stories about dissension and concern and different parts of the Liberal Party trying to mug other parts. In the meantime, Australians this January as they approach the return to school want to know from Malcolm Turnbull – why do you want to put a 15 per cent tax on everything? Why won’t you properly fund our schools?

Today, Labor is making a permanent shift. This is a big announcement. It’s a funded announcement and what it means is we want every parent’s child to get the best resources, we want every school to be a great school, because we know that if we are going to give our kids the best chance to compete in the jobs market of the future, if we want a system of fairness in this country where it’s not the school you went to or our postcode or how much money your parents have which determines your future, it should be the access you get to quality schooling everywhere. The OECD, this year or last year, just said that one of the best predictors of a wealth of a nation is the investment in education. And it’s a very clear choice at the next election. You can have investment in education and our future with Labor or you can have cuts with Mr Turnbull and his Liberal team.

JOURNALIST: Bill, could I just confirm, does this funding cover WA and the Northern Territory, which didn’t sign up to Gonski?

SHORTEN: Yes, we’ve made provision for that. The truth of the matter is that we’re more than happy to negotiate with all of the States and Territories, whatever the political complexion of the State. I mean, really, it’s a no-brainer for State Governments. What path do they go down? A 15 per cent GST on all their citizens with no guarantee that the money is going to go back into the schools anyway. Let’s face it, with the Liberal track record in 2013, a promising to be identical to Labor then they lied and broke that promise, or they can have our costed, funded policies which put schools, teachers, parents and most importantly the kids at the centre of our plans for the future of this country.

JOURNALIST: Bill, it’s not a binary choice, though is it? Not a binary choice between GST and Labor’s policies on the other hand, though?

SHORTEN: Well, you’d think so if you listen to the Liberals. You know, they keep talking about how a 15 per cent GST is going to solve everything. Our objection to the GST is pretty straightforward. Why should middle-class people, why should working-class people have to pay a 15 per cent tax on everything, so that tax cuts can be given to the very wealthy companies. It’s basically robbing the working and middle-class people of Australia to give very rich companies who don’t need these changes . I mean, Apple’s not even paying tax – and at the same time we’re willing to fund our schools properly, with costed policies. See, we understand, the most important thing that parents try to do for their kids – I learnt from from my own mum, we all learn it. If you give your children the best education possible, you give them the best chance in life as adults. The difference is that Labor doesn’t just want it for some children, we want it for every kid, every school, every postcode in Australia. Thanks everyone.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Sea level rise from ocean warming underestimated, scientists say

Extract from The Guardian

Thermal expansion of the oceans as they warm is likely to be twice as large as previously thought, according to German researchers 

Sea levels can rise due to melting ice and the expansion of water as it warms.
Sea levels can rise due to melting ice and the expansion of water as it warms. Photograph: Alamy
The amount of sea level rise that comes from the oceans warming and expanding has been underestimated, and could be about twice as much as previously calculated, German researchers have said.
The findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal, suggest that increasingly severe storm surges could be anticipated as a result.
Sea level can mount due to two factors – melting ice and the thermal expansion of water as it warms.
Until now, researchers have believed the oceans rose between 0.7 to 1mm per year due to thermal expansion.
But a fresh look at the latest satellite data from 2002 to 2014 shows the seas are expanding about 1.4mm a year, said the study.
“To date, we have underestimated how much the heat-related expansion of the water mass in the oceans contributes to a global rise in sea level,” said co-author Jurgen Kusche, a professor at the University of Bonn.
The overall sea level rise rate is about 2.74mm per year, combining both thermal expansion and melting ice.
Sea level rise was also found to vary substantially from place to place, with the rate around the Philippines “five times the global rate.”
Meanwhile, sea level on the US west coast is largely stable because there is hardly any ocean warming in that area, said the findings.

Are eco-friendly initiatives pointless unless we tackle overpopulation?

Extract from The Guardian

It is not just absolute numbers of people that have an impact on the planet but the rate at which they consume resources

Does having one of these wipe out the benefits of your efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle?
Does having one of these wipe out the benefits of your efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle? Photograph: Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters
The overarching theme of this column is living with less, so it really shouldn’t surprise me when each week I venture into the comments section to find dozens of people insisting that all efforts to do so are in vain – unless we are also choosing to reproduce less, too.
Recently I began to consider this question more seriously. Is overpopulation really the problem? Were the effects of all my eco-friendly initiatives wiped out the moment I had a child? Does the Earth have some sort of carrying capacity that we are rapidly approaching (or have already exceeded)?
Well, as with many issues, I quickly discovered that it isn’t quite that black and white. One of the main factors muddying the waters seems to be that humans consume resources at different rates. Prominent Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki recalls asking ecologist EO Wilson how many people our planet would be able to sustain indefinitely. His answer? “If you want to live like North Americans, 200 million.”
Determining some sort of final number that the human race can comfortably survive at is virtually impossible without considering the differing way we consume resources. Each American single-handedly produces the same amount of carbon emissions as 20 people from India, 30 from Pakistan or 250 from Ethiopia.

In some respects then, it should come as a relief to note that those of us consuming the most – those in developed countries like the UK, USA and Australia have seen birth rates fall steadily since the 1970s.
According to the 2015 UN World Population Prospects report, several countries are expected to see their populations decline by more than 15%, while “fertility in all European countries is now below the level required for full replacement of the population in the long run (around 2.1 children per woman, on average), and in the majority of cases, fertility has been below the replacement level for several decades”.
So it would seem that those in the developed world have minded the dire warnings coming from the comments section and adjusted their lives accordingly.
Reproduction is declining, there are fewer babies and indeed, that will mean fewer resources consumed by those of us who consume the most. But that’s not the whole story, of course. There’s still Africa. The continent currently home to almost 1.2 billion people is projected to be responsible for most of the population growth over the next 50 years, swelling to 2.5 billion by 2050 and 4.4 billion by 2100.
And, of course, many of the new billion people in developing countries will want to live the same lifestyles that cause disproportionate resources usage by North Americans – and they have just as much (or arguably, as little) right to adopt such environmentally unfriendly practices as we do: driving cars and SUVs, living in homes with central heating and air conditioning, eating imported foods, and filling our homes with clothing, electronics and consumer goods.
The problem is not just the sheer numbers of people inhabiting the planet, it’s also the lives we’re living once we’re here. That cannot be ignored. It’s not enough to say you won’t have kids and then declare Mission Accomplished like some sort of deranged George Bush derivative while you continue to drive your SUV and eat imported strawberries in December.
If we somehow managed to slow population growth so that we ended up with 8 billion people in 2050 instead of the projected 9.1 billion, we’d save 1-2bn tons of carbon emissions annually. That’s fantastic and, of course, there would be other implications for the resources not used by those missing billions, but erasing a billion potential people still wouldn’t be enough on its own to alter the trajectory of climate change.
Furthermore, the likelihood of preventing that billion births is constantly being cut off at the knees by backwards politicians and religious groups limiting safe and affordable sex education, birth control and abortion access. If you’re ranting about population control I’d better see you ranting for women’s reproductive rights too, but that’s an issue for another soapbox.

So, commenters, I concede the inarguable truth that you may be right.
There may well be too many of us, and far, far too many of us if we all wish to live like North Americans. This is why it’s at least as worrisome to me, if not more so, that those of us who are here are – particularly those of us in developed countries – are consuming so much, so fast, with so little regard for the world around us.
A good handful of us will reproduce. It’s inevitable. Instead of getting tunnel vision by focusing so much on population control, why not expand the focus to educating, motivating and assisting those human beings already walking this earth to do less damage to it? Why not add support to environmental initiatives like zero waste and local food sources and reduced consumption (and yes, women’s reproductive rights) rather than bah-humbugging everything?
There’s already 7 billion of us. If we put our collective energy toward creating positive change, it could be incredible. Now, let’s hold hands and sing kumbayah, please. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Australia Day: what makes us great, and what that greatness demands of us

“Cuz, can you call me?”
It was my cousin Robbie Simpson leaving me a message, when I called back he wanted to talk about a speech I had given months earlier. The speech had suddenly gained a new life after being posted on the Ethics Centre website to mark Australia Day.
I had been out of the country and when I arrived back my wife told me how the video had been viewed thousands of times. It had all taken me by surprise. I had long forgotten the speech, delivered as part of an intelligence squared debate for the BBC posing the question: is racism destroying the Australian dream?
The debate had been sparked by the Adam Goodes booing controversy, but it was more than that. It challenged us to ask hard questions of a country that is demonstrably among the most tolerant, free, prosperous and safe in the world, yet has a stain on its soul.
The veteran journalist and Wiradjuri man, Guardian Australia’s Indigenous affairs editorStan Grant, has told a Sydney audience that racism is ‘at the heart of the Australian dream’, as he delivered a speech about the impact of colonisation and discrimination on Indigenous people and their ancestors
I believe we are a great nation and we can bear great scrutiny. Opening the debate I reflected on how if I were sitting on the opposite side I would argue passionately for this country but I sit with my ancestors and the view looks so very different from our side.
I hadn’t prepared a speech, I didn’t want to rely on notes. I wanted to speak directly and honestly about some of my family’s experience and how we live with the weight of history. I wanted to speak of how we have reached out to Australia, fought in its wars, loved its people, worked and raised children. I wanted to speak of our heroes, people like the artist Albert Namatjira, Vincent Lingiari and his handful of sand from Gough Whitlam that ignited a land rights movement, Cathy Freeman lighting the Olympic flame.
But, I said, each time we are lured into the light we are mugged by the darkness of this country’s past.
Australia’s myths, poetry and anthem tell of a land that can appear unrecognisable to us. We don’t share in the “boundless plains”, we have not enjoyed the “wealth for toil”, the sweeping plains and rugged mountains ranges of a sunburnt country were too often places of death for us on the Australian frontier.

Indigenous people die still a decade younger than our fellow Australians, we are 3% of the population yet a quarter of those in prisons. By every measure Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders remain the poorest, most disadvantaged people in Australia and this is no accident. The seeds of our suffering were sown in dispossession at a time when the very humanity of my people was denied.
We are better than this, I said. I mean it. I have seen the worst of the world and this, in so many ways, is a remarkable nation. Those who have marched for reconciliation, who have supported the apology to the stolen generations, who voted to acknowledge our citizenship, who have extended the hand of friendship, they are better then this. A nation whose highest court can overturn the fiction of terra nullius and lay bare the lie of dispossession and settlement, is better than this.
The extraordinary and overwhelming response to my speech tells me we are better than this.
How am I feeling? I am astounded, humbled and perplexed. Australians are coming to this with newly opened ears and clear eyes, yet we have been telling this story for so long.
Other Indigenous people have delivered speeches similar to mine, frankly more courageous and enlightening – extraordinary, heroic people like William Cooper, Bill Ferguson, Jack Patten, Faith Bandler, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Charles Perkins, Galarrwuy Yunupingu, Tracker Tilmouth, Dennis Walker, Gary Foley, Chicka Dixon, Lowitja O’Donoghue, Pat O’Shane, Marcia Langton, Michael Mansell, Ken Colbung, Peter Yu, Senator Neville Bonner, Mick Dodson - all have rattled the cages, shaken us from our lethargy, changed minds hearts and laws.
Today we have brilliant orators and thinkers like Noel Pearson, tireless champions of sovereignty like Michael Anderson, broadcasting pioneers like Tiga Bayles, the remarkable father of reconciliation Pat Dodson and Ken Wyatt the first Indigenous person to sit on the front bench of one of our two major federal political parties.
I wish I could name everyone, they deserve it and they have inspired me beyond words. This Australia Day we should recognise them all and the Australians of all backgrounds who have stood with us for justice and freedom.
This is the essence of Australia Day for me, a recognition of what makes us great and what that greatness demands of us. We all view this day through our own lens. For so many of my people it can be a day of pain and I fully understand that. For me, I mourn invasion and the suffering that followed, I commemorate our survivals and pride as Indigenous people, I honour my family and I acknowledge what is extraordinary about this country – our grit, our open heartedness, our generosity, our democracy, and I ask, how can we be better?

We have a new generation blazing trails in business and medicine and law and engineering and architecture and we are helping change the face – literally – of the performing arts. In sport we are often transcendent.
For all of that remember always that there are our brothers and sisters – far too many in number – for whom the Australian dream remains a long dark nightmare.
My speech has been compared to those of Martin Luther King, the sentiment is flattering but embarrassing, I am not anywhere near worthy and that is not false modesty. I haven’t been in the trenches of our struggle, I am the beneficiary of those who fought those battles. There are hard fights ahead, tough conversations of recognition and treaty and sovereignty led by others better equipped than me.
I am a journalist and a proud man of Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi heritage who also has the blood of white Australia in my veins. I want the best possible country for my children – don’t we all?
It is enough that my family – my cousin – can ring me and say “thank you for telling our story.”

Stan Grant’s Ethics Centre speech on racism and the Australian dream. 

Record hot years near impossible without manmade climate change – study

Extract from The Guardian

New calculations shows there is just a 0.01% chance that recent run of global heat records could have happened due to natural climate variations

Tourists ski on a thin layer of snow towards the resort of Leysin in the Swiss Alps
Tourists ski on a thin layer of snow towards the resort of Leysin in the Swiss Alps in one of the warmest Decembers on record. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The world’s run of record-breaking hottest years is extremely unlikely to have happened without the global warming caused by human activities, according to new calculations.
Thirteen of the 15 hottest years in the 150-year-long record occurred between 2000-14 and the researchers found there is a just a 0.01% chance that this happened due to natural variations in the planet’s climate.
2015 was revealed to have smashed all earlier records on Wednesday, after the new study had been completed, meaning the odds that the record run of heat is a fluke are now even lower.
“Natural climate variations just can’t explain the observed recent global heat records, but manmade global warming can,” said Prof Stefan Rahmstorf, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and one of the research team.
He said the record heat brought substantial impacts: “It has led to unprecedented local heatwaves across the world, sadly resulting in loss of life and aggravating droughts and wildfires. The risk of heat extremes has been multiplied due to our interference with the Earth system, as our analysis shows.”
The UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed on Monday that the global average surface temperature in 2015 shattered all previous records and said 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have all occurred since 2000. “We have reached for the first time the threshold of 1C above pre-industrial temperatures. It is a sobering moment in the history of our planet,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas.
The new research by Rahmstorf and colleagues, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is based on a statistical analysis that combines real-world measurements with comprehensive computer simulations of the climate system. This allowed natural climate variability to be better separated from human-caused climate change. The results did not vary significantly when UK Met Office temperature data was used instead of Nasa data.
The research was prompted by earlier claims that the run of record-breaking years was vanishing unlikely, a one in 650m shot, according to one report.
However, the average global surface temperature of the planet each year is influenced by the warmth of the previous year, meaning that a record broken one year is not independent of the year before. The UK Met Office expects 2016 to break the record set in 2015, partly because of the continuing El NiƱo weather phenomenon.
“Natural climate variability causes temperatures to wax and wane over a period of several years, rather than varying erratically from one year to the next,” said Prof Michael Mann at Penn State university in the US, who led the new study. “That makes it more challenging to accurately assess the likelihood of temperature records. Given the press interest, it seemed important to do this right, and address the interesting and worthwhile question of how unlikely it is that the recent run of record temperatures might have arisen by chance alone.”
The study concludes: “While considerably greater than cited in some media reports, the odds are low enough to suggest that recent observed runs of record temperatures are extremely unlikely to have occurred in the absence of human-caused global warming.”

In 2013, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with 95% certainty that humans are the main cause of global warming.

Tony Abbott to speak about importance of family to far-right US lobby group

 Extract from The Guardian

Former prime minister is travelling to the US to address the Alliance Defending Freedom, which funds legal action against same-sex marriage and abortion

Tony Abbott with his wife, Margie, and daughters Louise, Frances and Bridgette as they celebrate his election victory in 2013.
Tony Abbott with his wife, Margie, and daughters Louise, Frances and Bridgette as they celebrate his election victory in 2013. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

Tony Abbott will address a far-right Christian group in the United States which lobbies against same-sex marriage and abortion.
The former prime minister is travelling to the US this week to address the Alliance Defending Freedom, according to Fairfax Media.
The group has been heavily involved in fighting the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the US and most recently has been campaigning against Planned Parenthood accusing it of being involved in “the gruesome baby parts trade”.
“Marriage and family, therefore, are the foundation of society. But when culture fails to respect and promote marriage, countless individuals, particularly women, children, and the underprivileged, suffer needless emotional and material hardships,” the group’s website says.
Abbott is reportedly giving a speech on “the importance of family”.
Abbott departs Australia after confirming he intends to stay in parliament and will recontest his seat of Warringah at this year’s federal election.
“I have been heartened by the support and encouragement I’ve received to continue to serve the country as a member of parliament,” he said in a statement posted on his website on Sunday night.
The Alliance Defending Freedom funds attorneys to fight in court in cases involving same-sex marriage and abortion. The group, established in 1994, initially helped fund attorneys for people who needed them in such cases but in recent years has begun initiating the litigations.
Abbott’s office has been contacted for comment.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Fighting on: Tony Abbott the Exiled Hero isn't going anywhere

Extract from ABC The Drum


Posted about 5 hours ago

The former prime minister was born for the thrill of leading a band of underestimated traditionalists against a vast left-wing conspiracy of Greens, unions and Point Piper pinot-gris-guzzlers, writes Annabel Crabb.
Tony Abbott's one-man conclave on his own future broke up last night after four long months of deliberations. A puff of blue smoke! Hearts soared among the decimated Coalition soldiers of the Resistance, as they gathered in their makeshift camps and slapped each other on the back.
Tony Abbott! Staying and fighting! And with enough of the old razzle-dazzle to continue his tradition of giving everyone something to splutter about at Australia Day barbecues!
The grizzled ranks of the Resistance will endure their citizenship ceremonies this year cheered by the knowledge that the Coalition will yet maintain a corner in which marriage is for a man and a woman, climate science is shonky, and it is perfectly all right to tell a public servant that she has piercing eyes.
For months now, the Resistance has sustained indignity after indignity: the summary liberation of its key lieutenants to spend more time with their families; the careful unpeeling of various Abbottian initiatives including knights and dames; the stratospheric public popularity of Malcolm Turnbull; the exploding-cigar theatre of Ian Macfarlane's attempt to defect to the Nationals; and of course the vicious targeting of conservative MPs and senators by a newly resurgent Liberal moderate wing.
Not that the latter could possibly prove surprising to any of them; after all, last year's Nationals-led pogrom in Queensland of Liberal MPs who supported same-sex marriage (Warren Entsch, Wyatt Roy, Teresa Gambaro and so on) was interrupted only by the untimely demise of Tony Abbott. To the victor go the spoils. It's a nasty business.
But the retention of Tony Abbott, Exiled Hero, is an important psychological peg.
For the man himself, the decision has upsides and downsides.
One upside is that he no longer has to think of something else to do. This is a fairly significant upside, as in all the months of speculation about his future, no-one has managed to paint a convincing picture of what life might contain, post-politics, for this unusually political creature.
Journalism? Not well-paid enough, probably. The corporate world? Not even Mr Abbott's most loyal chums consider this to be a live possibility. Speaking circuit? Much was made of this option by adoring conservative writers, though Mr Abbott's "Rivers of Blood" speech for the Margaret Thatcher Lecture didn't seem to set anyone on fire, particularly, and really, if you wanted a tried and true conservative Australian former PM to thump the tub, you'd probably go for someone a little longer of eyebrow and term-in-office, if you know what I mean.
Staying on as the Member for Warringah, a post he has held now for nearly 22 years, demands very little creative thought beyond drafting a plausible motivation for staying.
(Mr Abbott plumped for "working with Mike Baird to ensure that the Warringah Peninsula gets better transport links to the rest of Sydney", which - while not quite so risible as Bronwyn Bishop's "I am needed in the fight against ISIL" - probably needs work as a comprehensive raison d'etre.)
One quite serious downside of the decision is that Mr Abbott will be blamed for anything that goes wrong from here on in. Tax reform comes a cropper? Senate continues to be obstreperous? Grumblings about the Prime Minister? The Member for Warringah will be pinged for everything and watched extremely closely for any sign of insurrection, though thank God his lack of enthusiasm for Twitter relieves the fourth estate from the obligation to read the Tweeleaves as vigilantly as we did when it was Malcolm Turnbull lurking in the wings.
But none of these pros or cons stack up in any way against the real significance of this decision, which is that Tony Abbott has now returned to the job at which he really excels: Leader of the Opposition.
Granted, it's an internal role. But ideological guerrilla warfare, the thrill of leading a band of underestimated traditionalists against a vast left-wing conspiracy of Greens, unions and Point Piper pinot-gris-guzzlers? It's what Tony Abbott was born for. It's what he's best at. And right now, he's probably in a position to give the Prime Minister more grief than the actual Leader of the Opposition, which is kind of weird in an election year.
Are there any upsides in this for the Prime Minister? Apart from having a handy whipping-boy to blame for everything?
Well - the existence of a vocal right wing in the party does offer Mr Turnbull ideological cover. One of the complications of Being Malcolm Turnbull is that for a long time he has been the dream leadership candidate for everyone to the left of Peter Dutton. Thrust finally into the role as Prime Minister, he thus faces a delicate expectations-management task, not only of his own colleagues but of those Australians who casually assumed that a Turnbull prime ministership would be a nonstop parade of gay marriage and favourite bus routes.
On one side, the Prime Minister is policed by the right wing of his own party. On the other, the Greens in the Senate. If nothing else, they create an excellent argument for keeping to the middle of the road.
Annabel Crabb is the ABC's chief online political writer. She tweets at @annabelcrabb.

Lynton Crosby named Australian of the Year in the UK

Extract from The Guardian

Political strategist who helped David Cameron secure his surprise victory at the polls says the British appreciate Australian straight talk and ‘directness’

‘Australian rottweiler’ Lynton Crosby has been honoured in London.
‘Australian rottweiler’ Lynton Crosby has been honoured in London. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Election guru Lynton Crosby says being named Australian of the Year in the UK is recognition that Australians “punch above their weight in London”.
The 58-year-old received the honour on Friday night at a ceremony at Australia House where he defended his recent knighthood for masterminding the re-election of Britain’s Conservative government in May last year.

Sir Lynton, who has been dubbed the “Wizard of Oz”, previously helped Boris Johnson become mayor of London and was instrumental in former Australian prime minister John Howard’s run of four election victories.
His award of a knighthood in the UK’s New Year Honours List prompted accusations of political cronyism from the opposition Labour Party and calls in the British media for an overhaul of the honours system.
Sir Lynton told reporters on Friday his Australian of the Year in the UK award was “further recognition that Australians punch above their weight in London, in all sorts of walks of life.”
He said Australia equipped its people to be persistent and straight speaking and its egalitarian nature enabled Australians abroad to deal with situations with confidence and determination.
“I think there’s a tolerance from the British towards the directness that Australians have, so perhaps you can sometimes get away with saying and doing things a little more directly and a little more forcefully.”
When asked about his knighthood and accusations of cronyism Sir Lynton said he was honoured to be recognised for services to politics but “it’s really for others to make a judgment”.
“Of course you’ll always get your critics, you’ve just got to be confident in your own contribution and satisfied with that and I considered it a great honour.”
When asked if he preferred Sir Lynton to the “Wizard of Oz” he replied: “I prefer Lynton”.
Australian high commissioner Alexander Downer, who presented the award, said it was “entirely appropriate” for Sir Lynton to receive the Australia Day Foundation honour, and he also defended his knighthood.
“The fact is there is an Australian who is front and centre in the firmament of British politics.
“He has had a huge impact here in the UK. Of course he’s worked as a hired gun for the Conservative Party not for the Labour Party,” said Mr Downer, a former foreign minister in the Howard government.
“At the end of the day he’s the man who crafted a campaign that has led to the existence of the present government in the UK and in that sense he’s a very important person.”

Anger at Lynton Crosby's UK Australian of the Year award over tobacco lobby links

 Extract from The Guardian

Public Health Association of Australia CEO is ‘flabbergasted’ at Crosby’s honour for role in running Conservative party’s election campaign

Lynton Crosby
Lynton Crosby lobbied against the UK’s plain-packaging reforms. Photograph: Roger Askew/REX/Shutterstock

The chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia, Michael Moore, says he is “shocked and appalled” that London-based Australian political strategist, Lynton Crosby, has been named the UK Australian of the Year despite his history of involvement with the tobacco industry.
Crosby, who was also recently honoured with a knighthood by the Conservative British prime minister, David Cameron, received the award from the Australia Day Foundation UK on Friday night. He was awarded for his role in running the Conservative party’s election campaign, which saw the party re-elected in March.
But the move has left public health experts reeling.
“Not only was I shocked and appalled, but I was just flabbergasted when I heard the news that Crosby received this honour,” Moore told Guardian Australia.
“First, it demeans every Australian of the Year, and it also demeans the extraordinary number of people who have worked so hard for so long to improve the health of Australians by reducing the level of smoking in society.”
In 2012, the tobacco giant Philip Morris hired Crosby’s London-based lobbying firm, Crosby Textor Fullbrook, to make a case against cigarette plain-packaging reforms to present to Lord Marland, then parliamentary undersecretary for intellectual property and a former Conservative party treasurer.
After the Tories announced Crosby as their election strategist a couple of months later, he was forced to deny trying to influence them on the plain-packaging reform agenda, saying in 2013: “Any claim that I have sought to improperly use my position as part-time campaign adviser to the Conservative party is simply false.”
However, Intellectual Property Office documents revealed Crosby did in fact lobby Marland against the plain-packaging reforms.
Crosby was also the campaign manager to the former Australian Liberal prime minister, John Howard, and it was revealed by Fairfax Media that he sought out tobacco industry funding for his political campaigns.
Australia’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, presented the award to Crosby on behalf of the Australia Day Foundation, which promotes Australia in Britain.
But Moore questioned Downer’s involvement.
“Alexander Downer, having been elected and having been such a senior member of the Liberal party, must know, must understand that Crosby has ties to tobacco,” said Moore, who is also president elect of the World Federation of Public Health Associations.
“An Australian of the Year should be somebody who is an advocate for a better and healthier society. But an advocate for tobaccco is simply someone who knows that they are supporting a product that when used as directed will shortern the life of two-thirds of its users by 10 years. That such a person should be given this honour is a blight on the system.”
Guardian Australia has contacted Downer’s office for comment.
Mike Daube, a leader of the anti-tobacco movement for more than four decades, said he too was appalled. The professor of public health at Curtin University in Western Australia said Crosby was a known tobacco lobbyist.
“Lynton Crosby’s companies have reportedly worked for many years for companies such as British American Tobacco and Philip Morris, including lobbying on plain packaging in both Australia and the UK,” Daube said.
“Surely the Australia Day Foundation trust could have found better people to honour – for example the many Australian doctors, nurses and scientists who work in the UK on saving lives, not contributing to the work of the world’s biggest drug peddlers.”
Guardian Australia has also contacted the Australia Day Foundation for comment.
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