Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for May 2012

Also posted: http://www.chronicleonline.com.au Wednesday, May 30

Because the campaign race for seats in the ACT Legislative is starting earlier and earlier so too is the job of making an assessment of the runners. But making a difficult job even more difficult however, is the fact that runners from minor parties and Independents, handicapped by lack of resources but not necessarily ideas, won’t enter the race until shortly before it gets under way on Saturday 20th October.

The early starters are Greens, Labor and Liberal Party candidates some of whom currently sit as MLAs. However, the candidates who interest me most are new candidates because if sitting members in four years in four years and in some cases an even longer period of time, haven’t managed to project themselves as worthy representatives of the people, it would be a waste of time and effort to write about them and more importantly a waste of a vote in re-electing them. So if you think your vote is a valuable asset why squander it on someone you don’t think capable of using it wisely?

But what will be will be interesting is finding out from current MLAs how many of the hopes and aspirations they had when elected had been realised and what are their new hopes and aspirations. More interesting still will be what are the hopes and aspirations of new candidates
But perhaps some really interesting revelations will come later from old parties such as the Community Alliance if they decide to contest the election again or parties contesting the election for the first time and not to forget Independent candidates.

With regard to the latter, depending on your view of happenings in the Federal Parliament, perhaps you might think politics and the community would be better served if no Independent candidates were elected, no doubt a position the Greens, Labor and Liberals would agree with. However I doubt it would meet with the agreement of former Independent MLA Michael Moore. That said I also believe the voice of independence should always be heard.

In defence of small parties and Independents let it be said that current parties did not start as major parties but as small parties. The Labor party sprang from a small group of men and women whose ideals resonated with many in Australia’s workforce although it still took many years for it to become a major political force. Two big questions: do those earlier Labor ideals still resonate strongly within the workforce today?

The Liberal Party, a younger party than Labor, sprang from disaffected members of the United Australia Party. As a party its philosophy had much in common with the early Liberal Party in Britain. But just as I questioned whether or not the Labor Party still adhered to the ideals on which it was founded, like Labor it needs to answer the same questions: is it still a Liberal Party and are its early ideals but dim memories?

The origin of the Greens is different. It was formed when various Green Movements across Australia, decided to bury their differences and join together as one party. While of recent origin they still need to answer whether or not those differences still exist or if their ideals are also becoming dim memories.

While the old parties have already declared their starters in the election race rumours continually swirl round about new parties. I have no idea if the rumours have substance. Suffice to say, that no matter how much I feel tempted I am not inclined to indulge in idle speculation about who might, or might not, be thinking of entering the race. However let me say to those people who can often be heard saying they could make a better fist of being an MLAs than current holders of the office to put their hat in the ring and show voters what they’re made of.

Between now and October 2O candidates will be heard saying much about what should be done and given the opportunity what they will do to ensure that Canberra will be a city that continues to progress and make its residents feel confident about the future for themselves and their families.
dca@netspeed.com.au.
The Chronicle for Canberra’s best Community News and pics

Also posted The Chronicle http://www.chronicleonline.com.au Tuesday 23 May

A difficulty when writing about politics is to avoid being classed as showing bias in favour of a particular party or participant. I suspect the same situation applies in all countries, although in some of them the life of a journalist can be made very difficult or put in danger if they don’t show bias to the party of government or its leader. Although the latter doesn’t happen in Australia it can’t be said it will never happen although I can’t say the same for the former.

In Australia, perhaps the biggest danger citizens and journalists face is censorship because any limitation of free speech is a major blight on the community. Does it happen? I don’t know but I have heard journalists living in the ACT, the head office of Australian politics and write about politics and politicians, say it does.

Budgets are of particular interest to many journalists because they contain predictions that Nostradamus would be proud of. And as the ACT has two Houses of Parliament there are has more than enough budgets to keep journalists employed.

One fine example is the budget brought down just a few weeks ago by Treasurer Swan that he described as the battlers’ budget. Many people think his description right on the button. It might well be a battler’s budget, but not the way he meant it, because if not a battler now, if people spend the budget cash handouts on a new TV, washing machine and dryer, when later the hidden costs of the budget start to take effect, it could turn them into battlers.

For myself, it seems to me the federal budget is a bit like the curate’s egg: good in parts. Unfortunately, however, what seemed to be a very good part last week has become a bad part this week. You may recall that in last week’s column I wrote about how many people with a disability welcomed the announcement of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Well you’ve heard the old saying: if something sounds too good to be true, then it usually is, which seems to be the case with the NDIS.
From ongoing newspaper, TV and radio news reports, it seems the billions of dollars needed to run the NDIS have vanished as have the non-partisan politics surrounding it.

Indeed the reappearance of partisanship has emerged again as the main impediment to funding the scheme. As usual Government politicians blame the Opposition and the Opposition blames the government. In truth all politicians should hang their heads in shame.

Let’s move now to the ACT where, in July, the ACT Labor Government will bring down a budget whose contents, no doubt, will form part of its policy platform in the campaign for the ACT Election in October. Bearing Federal events in mind, ACT voters have an important question to ask themselves: if Labor is returned could an important policy announcement meet the same fate as the NDIS?

Remember, once you drop your voting paper in the ballot box on 20 October it will be too late to change your mind. The die is cast. You cannot retrieve your ballot paper and alter it even if you think you’ve made a mistake. That said, ACT voters have until 20 October to decide which party and candidates they will trust to govern the ACT in their names for the next four years.

However, before they vote they should look for hidden caveats in the proposed policies of all parties which indicate that, after the election if the Government thinks it politically expedient to ditch a policy it will. If it then happens probably its action will be explained away by saying the policy was ditched due to unforseen effects caused by the Global Financial Crisis.

Speaking personally I examine policies with the words of poet Rabbie Burns in mind: “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley and leave us not but grief and pain for promised joy.” This makes me wary of MLAs who seem too sure of themselves. The ACT has had them before and dare I say it, some current MLAs display this same air of arrogance. So, voters beware!
dca@netspeed.com.au

The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news

This is the copy of an e-mail I received yesterday. I am posting it because climate change is an important issue not just here in Australia but across the world.

Now you may believe the world is doomed unless the predictions of the climate change lobby are accepted unquestioningly. But let me confess that I am not an unquestioning believer but a sceptic – not a denier.

Indeed much as I believe the climate is changing I do not find the predictions of the alarmists believable.

Even if readers of the blog do not agree with me I would appreciate their comments.

This letter was sent to all Members of Australia’s House of Representatives and Senate.

Dear Members of Parliament and Senators,

Why is the government insistent on implementing a CO2 price, given that it will not make any difference to the climate, or to sea levels, and most certainly will not “lead the world by example” (as has been so clearly demonstrated at the Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban conferences)?

If the government had been given sound, objective advice it would realise that there is no point in implementing a CO2 price unless the whole world participates. Renowned world leader in all matter to do with CO2 pricing, Yale economist Professor William Nordhaus, says in his 2008 book “A Question of Balance” [1], p19:

“We preliminarily estimate that a participation rate of 50 percent, as compared with 100 percent, will impose an abatement-cost penalty of 250 percent. Even with the participation of the top 15 countries and regions, consisting of three-quarters of world emissions, we estimate that the cost penalty is about 70 percent.”

Treasury estimates [2] suggest the Government’s CO2 pricing scheme will cost about $1,350 billion cumulative to 2050 (undiscounted), or $390 billion (discounted at 4.35% per annum, the rate used in the Nordhaus Yale-RICE model (2012) [3]). This cost may be an underestimate; for example, the compliance cost for CO2 measuring and monitoring apparently has not been estimated.

However, the benefit of the Government’s CO2 pricing will be virtually nil.

Why is the Australian Government so insistent on damaging our economy (and our wellbeing) for no environmental benefit?
Peter Lang.

Peter Lang is a well known Autralian who is Sceptical about climate change.

References:

William Nordhaus (2008) “A Question of Balance”, p19,
http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf

Treasury (2011)”Strong Growth, Low Pollution – Modelling a Carbon Price”, [Chart 5:13]
http://archive.treasury.gov.au/carbonpricemodelling/content/chart_table_data/chapter5.asp

Nordhaus, Yale-RICE Model (as of March 20, 2012)
http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/RICEmodels.htm

Shorty version published The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 16/5/12

While some economists might welcome last week’s budget, battlers will remember it as the horror budget that included the unwelcome carbon tax that will make them poorer and their battles to escape poverty even harder. And no doubt Treasurer Swan will be glad to lay claim to the dubious fame of having achieved a surplus albeit that it was achieved at the expense of battlers.

Having said that no doubt you will accuse me of cynicism when I say I welcome the Federal Budget not, I hasten to add, because I agree with the economists and Treasurer Swan and other budget measures I think disagreeable but, because just as every dark cloud has a silver lining, the budget announcement of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is this budget’s silver lining.

That it is a silver lining is due to it being one of the most, if not most significant pieces of legislation because it brings hope of new life to many people with a disability and carers. Thousands of carers will welcome the NDIS, as will health professionals whose lives have been devoted to helping improve the lifestyle of people with a disability. These people will welcome the NDIS with a huge sigh of relief because it is an initiative that has been a long time coming even if it will take time to be fully implemented.

Although it has come too late for me my enthusiasm for the NDIS is because it will help many people with a disability join the wider community and become part of what erroneously is called ‘normal’ society. Speaking for myself and also as a member of a family that had two physically disabled members, neither was ever thought of as anything but normal.

And I am still connected with disability. Within my large extended family, I have a niece and nephew each with a different disability. A twenty one years old nephew is autistic and a forty three years old niece has a mental disability. However, having been encouraged to be proud of their disability they have not allowed it to hinder them in life. They are productive members of society, my nephew stacking shelves in a supermarket and my niece working in childcare.

However, I find it unfortunate that in today’s allegedly tolerant society there are still people who use the word disability as a pejorative. If you are one of them I say to you: people who use disability as a pejorative are people whose disability is even greater that the people they are trying to disparage.

As for the NDIS, it will be a boon for family members because for many years many in authority exploited their humanity by taking it for granted that it was their duty to care for disabled family members. It is not before time that their humanity is being recognised. Carers will also be pleased the community at large supports that recognition.

Importantly too, for many of them, the NDIS will help ease the financial burden they face in caring for a disabled family member.
Apart from family members, thousands of volunteer carers will also gain recognition for helping the disabled. These special people have no thought of reward other than the joy they get when, with their help, they see people with a disability for whom they care, join in activities with members of the wider community.

At the same time, family carers and volunteer carers all of whom are a special breed of human being beings recognise that, although the NDIS has been a long time coming, it will be some time before every person with a disability and every carer will receive a benefit.

Ironically the idea of the NDIS was as one of the great ideas raised at the forum staged five years ago in the early days of Kevin Rudd’s Prime Ministership. That apart, it is pleasing to note that the legislation was passed without being affected by partisan politics, perhaps encouraged by the words of Victor Hugo: “a stand can be made against an army; no stand can be made against the invasion of a good idea.”

I only wish such political co-operation happened more often.
dca@netspeed.com.au
The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news now online. Published eevery Wednesday at:chronicleonline.com.au

Published in The Chronicle, Canberra, every Tuesday at: chronicleonline.com.au

Is Australian democracy in decline? I ask because the democracy that evolved during Australia’s first 150 years instead of continuing to evolve seems to have stalled. That it has stalled is because since politics became the dominant philosophy, democracy has been forced to take a back seat.

No doubt those politicians of all hues who when all else fails, profess to uphold democracy, will attack me. Their attacks won’t come as a surprise because they seem to have forgotten, if ever they knew, the meaning of democracy. Indeed not only do they seem to think democracy simply a political theory but that they are exemplars of how the theory works. And as politicians grow in number, as they will, it seems to me the decline of democracy could accelerate.

If you don’t believe me ask politicians to define democracy. Many years ago when I asked that question the answers I was given would have done Socrates, Plato and later philosophers proud. Today however, the answers seem crafted as if a message for posting on Twitter. For example: Democracy is egalitarianism at its best; Democracy is the system by which all the people in a nation can elect people to govern on their behalf. But for me the most revealing answer was: everyone knows what democracy is. Do they? I wish politicians did because many of them – too many- practice it more in the breach than the observance.

Unfortunately politicians, Democracy’s wayward children, seem preoccupied by fighting each other rather than solving problems to the advantage of the people they represent. In Australia this can be seen as State, Territory and Federal politicians permanently war with each other in battles that rather than exemplify the democratic principle of free speech tend to become slanging matches about the personalities of the protagonists rather than the issues the politicians were elected to pursue on behalf of voters. And not to put too fine a point on it, many of these battles often seem based on envy.

While Democracy has spread across the world, it has not prevented war. In part this is because Democracy means different things to different people a difference caused because Democracy is really a Western concept yet to take deep root in non-western cultures, despite the rhetoric emanating from the United Nations. As a concept it also fails regularly in the West.

This is not to suggest that, since Athens in 500 years BCE, Democracy has not served the world well. Indeed as the disciples of Democracy in later generations spread that 5th century philosophy to more and more European nations of different cultures, new strains of democracy evolved.
Effectively, Europe became the hub of democracy and as the people of the Roman, English and French empires and independent nations spread across the globe, they carried with them the strains of democracy that had evolved during various periods of enlightenment and revolution. As a result, Democracy today has various guises.

But despite its various guises Democracy’s greatest value is that it gave birth to great Liberal ideals: equality before law; the right to an education; political plurality; human rights; and the operation of society outside government, et al. It seems to me that unless these ideals are restored, in Australia it remains to be seen whether or not Democracy will continue to evolve.

Arguably, too, as the years pass, the face of Australia will become more Asian than European, a process likely to accelerate as China, India and its neighbours to the North West and other parts of Asia speed up the development of their resources and technology. And as their populations increase, the press of necessity will force them to find more space to accommodate some of that increase.

That said, not only does it seem clear and logical to me that they will see Australia as that space but also that as members of those populations arrive with their own democratic culture, the Asianisation process will speed up and democracy change..

Although some Australians are already calling for Asianisation to be prevented, the real question is: can and should it be prevented? I suggest that Australia’s actions on this issue will determine whether or not democracy in Australia is in decline.
dca@netspeed.com.au
This is the original of the column published in The Chronicle, Canberra’s best community newspaper.

Special Notice

Due to circumstances beyond my control my usual Chronicle column could not published this week. But to keep faith readers here is another article I hope you enjoy

Don’t forget, The Chronicle is published every Tuesday and also online on Wednesday at: http://www.chronicle online.com.au So keep reading.

Of late, the story of Dr Frankenstein has much occupied my mind. First, in a matter of a personal nature; and second, because I believe Frankenstein had a close and sinister relationship with Canberra. Not an alarmist by nature I decided that before I made this relationship public, I checked discretely with some of Canberra’s eminent physicians who opined that not only did some Canberrans exhibit the same traits as the original Frankenstein but that, thankfully, such people were only to be found in the ranks of politicians and senior bureaucrats. They doubted their existence among ‘ordinary’ Canberrans.

In keeping with my not being an alarmist let me add that the purpose of this essay is not to publicly identify those politicians and bureaucrats who exhibit Frankenstein traits (they are quite capable of doing that themselves) but to make the community aware of their existence so that if ever they come in contact with them they can take appropriate action.

I know there are people who, having read the story of Dr Frankenstein think he died and lies buried in an Antarctic ice-flo in line with his belief in cryogenics. Not so. The fact is Dr Frankenstein chose this flo because he had arranged with the Australian Government of the day that when the parliament moved to Canberra the block of ice containing Dr Frankenstein’s body would be cut out and put on a fishing trawler on its to Australia.

The Government was to be informed immediately when it arrived but no public announcements of its arrival were to be made. (According to recently released cabinet documents, the government, allegedly, didn’t want to frighten people.)

Not so. The truth is, after Frankenstein thawed out he was to be brought to Canberra for questioning in secret by scientists. During questioning, Frankenstein disclosed that that even when in the ice –flo his mind had carried on working and that he had perfected a method of creating humans with reproductive capacity and also a method of re-making people.

This delighted the Government because it was seen as the answer to the problem of recruiting people to live and work in Canberra, something the Government was finding difficult. As result Dr Frankenstein was given the money to build facilities and brief to populate the city by putting his theories into effect. The Government was on safe ground because with few Australians travelling to Canberra no one but the politicians would know what was going on, an ideal position for most politicians.

Unfortunately, some ambitious politicians who thought they deserved to be immortal thought Frankenstein could realise their ambition and remake them, time, and time again. To his credit Frankenstein saw this as a problem. As he pointed out to the government if the politician who wanted a remake was Labor and the only parts available at the time were from people who had been Liberal, National, Democrat, Green, or Independent, while he could guarantee what they looked like, he couldn’t guarantee their political ideology.

To assuage his fears a government spokesperson said: “Don’t worry about that Doctor we’re mixed up all the time.” That having been said, Australians should consider themselves fortunate that few politicians have been remade so making it easy to recognise the ones who have.

Although the programme faced many difficulties, Frankenstein pursued his brief which is why so many politicians and bureaucrats look like each other Unfortunately, however, Frankenstein couldn’t change the unstable emotional nature of his creations which, when upset, could go instantly from funny to ferocious.

So if you live in or are visiting Canberra before making a complaint to a politician or bureaucrat for the sake of your family make sure your life insurance policy is always paid up to date.

And finally: if you can prove the rumour that Dr Frankenstein is still alive could you let me know how to get hold of him because I’ve got some bits I’d like replaced?
dca@netspeed.com.au



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