Australian Politics 2018-01-03 15:47:00
Carbon war: Tony Abbott fires up for battle
Malcolm Turnbull is facing a backlash over his energy policy as conservative MPs including Tony Abbott condemn a proposal to allow power companies to meet emissions targets by buying permits from overseas as a “carbon tax” by stealth.
Mr Abbott has slammed the government’s in-principle support for including international carbon credits in Australia’s energy policy, arguing that the move will see Australian businesses and consumers shovelling money to foreign carbon traders, with huge potential for rorts.
Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg announced the new stance on carbon credits when releasing the final report of his 2017 review of climate change policies on December 19.
“As flagged in 2015, the review considered the role of international units and as a result the government has now given in-principle support for their use,” he said. “The final decision on the timing and appropriate quantity and quality limits will be taken by 2020 following further consultation and detailed analysis.”
Carbon credit schemes reward carbon abatement projects, such as tree planting in developing countries, potentially allowing Australian energy companies to buy the credits from the tree-planters to offset their own emissions. Business groups have strongly backed the move, arguing that there is no reason to waste efforts on higher-cost domestic abatement options when credible, less expensive alternatives are available abroad.
Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has joined Mr Abbott in voicing strong opposition to the government’s move, while the Nationals’ George Christensen has previously expressed concerns about the international trading of carbon credits.
Mr Abbott said his position on international carbon credits remained the same as it had been when he was prime minister and party leader.
“I don’t support carbon trading, which is a carbon tax under a different name, and I certainly don’t support overseas carbon credits being available to Australian businesses,” he told The Australian. “That just means that Aussie consumers end up shovelling our money to foreign carbon traders, and we all know the potential for rorts there.”
Mr Frydenberg hit back last night, saying the role of international carbon credits had been on the table since Mr Abbott’s government announced in 2015 Australia’s Paris commitment.
‘’Since then we have conducted a major climate review in which industry groups representing energy intensive businesses across the economy including the BCA, AiG and the Minerals Council have made it very clear they strongly support the use of international permits," he said. “It is worth noting that Mr Abbott’s position on international permits is closer to the Greens than that of Australia’s big employers.”
In recent days, the Prime Minister has hailed his government’s national energy guarantee as a “real breakthrough” and key achievement in 2017.
Although the government won support for the guarantee in the Coalition partyroom, the latest development in the policy has inflamed the internal divisions that in 2009 saw Mr Abbott overthrow Mr Turnbull as opposition leader.
Mr Kelly said international carbon credits would put an extra cost burden on Australian businesses that would not be borne by competitors in countries such as China, the US and India.
“We’d be doing this at a time when every Australian business that uses energy is under enormous international competitive pressure through the higher cost of energy and with the company tax cuts in the US,” Mr Kelly said.
“Businesses in Australia are going to be struggling to compete internationally without us effectively putting on a further new green tax, forcing them to buy pieces of paper from overseas.”
Mr Kelly said the Abbott opposition’s criticisms of the Gillard government’s policy in 2011 remained relevant. “All those arguments are just as relevant today as they were back then,” he said, likening international carbon offset schemes to someone saying they were going to go on a diet over Christmas, but continuing to eat and paying a “diet offset”.
“You keep eating and someone from the Third World gets paid to starve,” he said.
Sky News commentator and former Abbott chief of staff Peta Credlin dubbed the timing of the announcement last month as a “getting out the trash” move, given it was released the day after the mid-year economic and fiscal update and the day of Mr Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle.
In December 2010, Europol revealed it had arrested more than 100 people connected with carbon offset fraud, with links to organised crime networks in Europe and the Middle East. Consequently, trading volumes on Europe’s carbon market fell by 90 per cent, with a loss to European taxpayers of $6.6 billion.
In 2011, now Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wrote an opinion article attacking the then Gillard government’s policy of support for international carbon credits.
“It is naive at best for the prime minister to assume that such a scheme will emerge, given the clear signals internationally that major emitting nations are moving away from trading in carbon credits,” Ms Bishop wrote.
“Of more concern is that Julia Gillard appears blithely or wilfully unconcerned about the fraud and criminal activity that has beset trading in carbon credits.”
Asked whether her views had changed, and whether she supported the Turnbull government’s policy of in-principle support, Ms Bishop said in 2011 there had been widespread allegations of fraud in relation to international carbon credits.
“Since then, an international framework has been established through the Paris Agreement which provides unprecedented transparency, accountability and global co-operation on governance issues,” she said.
“The government is working to reduce emissions and meet our international obligations under the Paris Agreement through a broad range of emissions reduction policies and initiatives.
“We support, in principle, the use of international permits as part of our comprehensive suite of policies.”
More African vibrancy in Melbourne
THE first question to roll off the tongue of the African kid, as he leaned out the window of a white station wagon, was innocent enough. But it marked the only polite exchange of the day.
“Hey, man, you got a cigarette?" he said.
But almost before he received a reply, the car sped off, leaving behind about 10 other teenagers, loitering in the heat outside the Ecoville Community Park in Tarneit.
“You better not be trying to take our photo," said one.
“You don’t want to die on New Year’s Day.
“And I’ll f---ing kill you."
Another youth, his back to the wall, the peak of his cap slanted across his face, didn’t take kindly to questions.
“What are we doing here?" he said. “We’re f---ing your grandmother, that’s what we are doing."
The group was an ominous presence, leering, yelling, leaning on fences, throwing rocks, spouting obscenities.
Nearby, the footpath was littered with “nangs" — little canisters that hold nitrous oxide, normally used in whipped cream siphons but which can be easily inhaled for a quick buzz.
But these African youths have been getting their thrills in other ways, too.
For months, they have been congregating in large numbers late into the night.
Locals say they zero in on innocent residents jogging past or walking their dogs, mounting verbal or even physical attacks without rhyme or reason.
A man attacked by three African teens two months ago was repeatedly punched and kicked, and suffered a major eye injury.
Residents who avoid the area are quick to dismiss critics who argue that the escalation in crime isn’t linked to African youths.
“They are out of control," Paul Singh, 34, said. “They should be punished or sent home. But here they are — not scared of anybody. “It’s terror," he said.
“Terror for our kids, our families, and our wives. I always feel scared, and these guys are getting away with it."
Mr Singh places the blame squarely on the state government. He urged Premier Daniel Andrews to give authorities greater powers to end the crime wave.
Five police officers arrived at the centre just after 1pm on Monday. Ushering the youths away from the building, they questioned them for almost 20 minutes, then left after the group appeared to walk away.
But it meant little to watching neighbours, who said that by 8pm, the youths would be back, and in far greater numbers.
The gangs hanging around the community centre for months have been linked to vandalism sprees.
Another Tarneit resident, Harish Rai, 57, said he was still waiting to be formally interviewed by police after being attacked. “I went for a walk through the park and they were watching me," he said. “I heard them laughing and then they came from nowhere. They punched and kicked me. “I used to walk every day. Now I know not to."
There have been other victims, too. Some have been robbed, their mobile phones or wallets ripped out of their hands.
“It’s scary," Mr Rai said. “Nobody should have to live like this."
Australian wages stall, as immigration soars
This is exactly what classical economics would lead you to expect. Australia's extraordinary rate of immigration intake has greatly increassed the supply of labour and increasing the supply must tend to reduce its price (wages)
The Treasurer has a new favourite mantra — "1,000 jobs a day".It's a new take on the familiar "jobs and growth" three-word slogan the Prime Minister took to the last election.
Scott Morrison is correct as there were 371,000 new jobs created over the past year, which averages to more than 1,000 per day.
But it's a much less impressive statistic when compared to the breakneck growth in Australia's population.
Australia's population swelled by 388,000 in the year until June — which is more than 1,000 people being added to our population every day. When you have a population growing that fast, you need to create a lot of jobs just to keep up.
For a Treasurer and Prime Minister who are interested in trumpeting headline figures like GDP, high population growth helps to inflate the numbers.
Simply by letting more people in, you bump up the overall size of the economy.
However, it doesn't necessarily make life any better for the people who live in the country and arguably, makes it a lot worse.
ABC business reporter Michael Janda explains how the jobs data are calculated and what to look for in the figures. This is more people competing for jobs and housing, pushing down wages and pushing up property prices.
Australia's population growth is extraordinarily high when compared to our global peers, at 1.6 per cent per year. This is more than double the rate of the US, nearly three times the rate of the UK, and four times the rate of France.
On current projections, Australia will hit 38 million people by 2050.
This high rate of population growth is driven mostly by high immigration. Net migration was 245,400 people over the past 12 months — which was a 27.1 per cent increase over the year before. That's more than the total population of Hobart in new migrants coming to the country in a single year.
This is also a huge additional supply of workers (although a proportion would be children or the elderly).
The simple economic rule of supply and demand means these new workers effectively lower the price of labour, which means lower wages.
At the height of the mining investment boom, attracting talent from overseas made sense in many occupations to allow projects to be built.
Although be careful when talking about 'skill shortages'. Often it isn't a case of there not being enough people with those skills.
Instead, it's a case of businesses not being willing to pay enough money to attract people and thus choosing to sponsor foreigners who will work for worse pay and conditions.
Australia is not currently anywhere near full employment.
At 5.4 per cent unemployment, Australia is well above the US which is sitting at 4.1 per cent and the UK at 4.2 per cent.
There are currently 707,000 unemployed Australians. These are people currently looking for work. But that's only part of the story as there are currently about 1.1 million Australians who are 'underemployed'. These are people who are currently working (perhaps as little as one hour a week) but want to work more hours.
So the number of Australians currently looking for more work is 1.8 million.
There is still a huge amount of 'slack' in the labour market which is keeping people from getting a decent pay rise. Companies are much less likely to offer big pay rises to workers if they know there's a big supply of other workers who are desperate for a job or more hours.
Federal official wants to kill more Aboriginal children
After the "stolen generation" hoax hit, child welfare officials became very reluctant to remove abused Aboriginal children from their families. So many children were killed or injured who could have been saved. So the galah below thinks MORE children should be left with their families. Ideology trumps reality
And the idea that Aboriginal families can be "helped" is a joke. How? Take their grog away? But that would be "paternalistic", wouldn't it? Many have tried to lift Aborigines out of their behavioral sinks but none have succeeded. The only people who ever did any good with them were the missionaries
The outgoing Aboriginal children’s commissioner in Victoria opposes hard limits on the number of Indigenous children being removed from families, saying it could put lives at risk.
Andrew Jackomos, the country’s first Indigenous children’s commissioner, favours measures to reunite families. But he says hard targets to limit removals could have dangerous consequences.
Reducing the number of Indigenous children removed from their families and placed in out-of-home care was one of the two areas most commonly cited by Indigenous organisations in the lead up to the Turnbull government’s review of the Closing the Gap targets, many of which expire in June.
The other is a target to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the prison system. The two are inextricably linked: the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found in 2016 that children who were known to the child protection system were 14 times more likely to also be involved in the youth justice system.
Jackomos said: “I would oppose a straight out-of-home-care target. My worry is that if you have targets straight on the number of kids removed then you may see kids who need to be removed not removed, so we just need to be smart about it.”
But one reason for his one-term tenure, and his reluctance to accept hard targets on rates of child removal, is contained in closed files delivered to the children’s minister, Jenny Mikakos, concerning the deaths of children who were known to child protection.
Thirty-six children died in those circumstances in 2016, of which four were Indigenous.
“Many of the child death inquiries we do are of young babies who have been murdered,” Jackomos said. “They are of young babies that should have been removed because the situation wasn’t safe. And in other cases I see child death inquiries where the children are teenagers and they’ve stayed in resi[dential] care. I wonder, was it safer for them at home?”
Jackomos said the focus should be on getting separated families back together as quickly as possible – with targets to promote reunification rather than simply limiting removals, which he said could put some children at risk.
“We can achieve that by intervention and prevention, and working with mums and dads. In a lot of cases I see children have been removed and then we just forget about mum and dad,” he said. “If we had that reunification target I think that would go a way towards improving services to them.
For Aboriginal children, “home” might mean returning to live with their parents, or it might mean living with a grandmother, aunt or cousin. Whichever family situation applied, Jackomos said, they should be supported, and that would ensure fewer children were removed in the long run.
The Yorta Yorta man will finish in his current role on 31 January – and start work the next day as a special adviser on Indigenous self-determination in Victoria’s Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Speaking in his office in his final weeks in the role, Jackomos said the commissioner’s job, which includes providing independent oversight of children in the child protection and youth justice systems, was not one that anyone should do for more than five years.
“If you’re a Koorie person, if you’re involved in reading the stories and trying to make changes … I think you need time out,” he said.
About 5.5% of the Australian population under the age of 18 identifies as Indigenous, yet Indigenous children made up 36.2% of all children in out-of-home care in 2016 and 55% of all children held in youth detention. Rates of out-of-home care for Indigenous children are 10 times higher than for non-Indigenous children, and rates of youth detention are 24 times higher. You can’t fix one without addressing the other, Jackomos said.
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