AS Politics: Party Divisions – the Conservative Party

The problem with examining Conservative Party divisions is that we tend to still be using out of date terminology.  The party has moved on from a Thatcherite/One Nation division (if it ever really existed in one) not least because the times have c...

Australian Politics 2017-05-31 15:49:00

Big coal mine opposed by Greenies gets a go-ahead from a Leftist State government

Royalties are a tax and seeking a taxbreak while an enterprise gets going is normal and may even be offered by a government

The $16 billion Adani coal mining project is back on track after the Indian resources giant agreed to a royalties deal with the Queensland government.

It comes a week after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reportedly backflipped on a deal because of divisions inside her government, which lead to a snap cabinet meeting on Friday.
Ministers unanimously agreed the company would not be given a royalties holiday on its proposed operation, and on Tuesday evening Adani announced it had agreed to the deal.

A week of warring among Labor factions was sparked when details of Ms Palaszczuk's original agreement with the company surfaced.
Under that deal, Adani would have had pay only $2 million a year over the first seven years of the mine's operation, which could have cost Queensland taxpayers up to $320 million.

No details of the new deal were available due to commercial reasons, an Adani spokesman told AAP on Tuesday evening. "The royalties arrangement means the project is back on track to generate 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in regional Queensland," the company said in a statement. "This shows a strong commitment by the state government to the project and is a benchmark decision to take this project forward."

The board of Adani's parent company will consider the deal at its next meeting, the statement said.

On Saturday, Ms Palaszczuk said her government had worked "night and day" to finalise the new framework, but denied she had backflipped on a previous deal she had struck with the firm.


Deported: Sex creep taxi driver to be kicked out of Australia

SEX creep taxi driver Jagdeep Singh is finally being kicked out of Australia.  Several Australian Border Force officers grabbed him at his Lalor home and put him in detention prior to his deportation back to India.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal foiled Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s first attempt to get rid of Singh after he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a female passenger in December 2015.

Singh appealed against the visa cancellation decision made by a delegate for Mr Dutton.  AAT senior member Miriam Holmes then overturned the delegate’s deportation decision in November last year and reinstated Singh’s visa.

She did so despite making a formal finding that Singh committed “a significant sexual offence involving a vulnerable member of the public while the applicant was engaged as a taxi driver”.

Mr Dutton last night exercised his power to overrule the AAT and ordered that Singh be detained by Australian Border Force officers and deported. A spokesman for Mr Dutton confirmed to the Herald Sun that Singh’s visa had been cancelled again.

Ms Holmes gave Singh, 34, his visa back in November last year, despite finding “it was apparent to the Tribunal that the applicant showed no remorse in relation to the criminal offence”.

In her written decision outlining why she overturned the deportation decision of Mr Dutton’s delegate, Ms Holmes said the cancellation of the visa had adversely affected Singh’s ability to manage his psychological condition with his treating psychologist.

She also said Singh’s wife had demonstrated depressive symptoms require anti-depression medication and would suffer emotional hardship if her husband’s visa was cancelled.

The decision noted that if Singh’s visa were cancelled he would become an “unlawful noncitizen” and might be liable for detention and possible removal from Australia.

Singh arrived in Australia from India in 2008 on a student visa as a dependent of his wife and started work as a taxi driver in Melbourne in 2011.

Singh’s victim hailed his cab outside Crown casino and asked Singh to driver her home to Clayton. She asked him to start the cab meter, but Singh replied for her not to worry and that something could be worked out later.

While Singh was driving he used his left hand to reach behind him to grab her leg and touch her hand. She repeatedly said “no” to Singh before eventually succeeding in pushing his hand away.

When Singh drove into the driveway of her home she put money on the centre console and got out of the taxi.

Singh jumped out of the cab and put his arms around the woman and hugged her close to his body. He told her he didn’t want her money and said “please, let’s work something out”.

She told him “no” and that he should take the money, at which point he kissed her on the neck.

The woman twisted her body to get away from Singh, but as she got to the gate he grabbed her from behind and pressed himself up against her.

She managed to get away for him again, told him to get back in the cab and leave her alone.

As she opened her front door he pushed her inside against a staircase and tried to kiss her neck and face.

Singh ran off after her screams alerted her housemate to the sexual attack.

He was caught and pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting the woman and was given an 18-month community corrections order in December 2015 requiring him to do 150 hours of unpaid community service.


Australia plans to deny passports to convicted paedophiles

Convicted paedophiles would be denied passports in Australia under a "world-first" plan proposed by the government.

The proposal, to be introduced to parliament, would prohibit registered sex offenders from travelling overseas.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said it would affect about 20,000 offenders who had completed punishments but remained under monitoring by authorities. Sex offenders would be able to apply for passports if they were no longer on the register, the government said.

"No country has ever taken such decisive and strong action to stop its citizens from going overseas, often to vulnerable countries, to abuse kids," Mr Keenan said.

About 800 registered sex offenders travelled overseas from Australia in 2016, according to the government. The government said about 3,200 sex offenders would never be eligible for passports because they were being monitored for life.

Mr Keenan described child sex tourism as an "absolutely abhorrent crime".

The proposal was reached with independent Senator Derryn Hinch, long time campaigner for tougher laws to deal with sex offenders. Mr Hinch said the proposal would protect children.

"You go to Bali, you go to Phnom Penh, you go to Siem Reap, and you see these middle-aged Australian men there, Caucasian men, with a young local kid - they are not there to get a suntan," he told reporters on Tuesday.

Last year, Australian man Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis was convicted of sexually abusing 11 girls in Indonesia and jailed for 15 years.


Apple-picking robot targets labour-hungry fruit sector in Australia

Goodbye to immigrant workers?

Many fruit growers across Australia were left scrambling to find pickers this season and were forced to leave fruit on the trees to rot. Would harvest be less stressful if they had a robot to do the work instead?

A team of engineers from California are close to commercialising a machine that strips a canopy of apples using a vacuum arm.

For the past five years they have been working on the prototype in orchards in Washington State and, more recently, at Warragul in south-east Victoria.

Abundant Robotics chief executive Dan Steere said the invention may just be the solution to a global labour problem. "The industry struggles to attract a large enough labour force, even when they're paying pretty high wages," he said. "This has been a growing problem for several decades in the US as well as Australia and other places.

"I think automation offers the promise of being able to relax that constraint from an industry that without it, would struggle to remain viable."

The robot the company has developed can drive itself down an orchard row of apples and look for fruit on a trellis up to 3 metres tall.

It is programmed to select fruit for colour, then using its arm, sucks in a piece of fruit off a branch.

Mr Steere said the goal was to have the robot matching the quality of fruit picked by people. "When people are picking apples today, there's a certain amount of damage that happens as you pick them or empty them from the bag into the bin," he said.

"In Victoria this past year, we were comparing the rate of damage which we saw with our machine. "It was actually measured by the packing house at 1.8 per cent to the human crews' picking.

"So that level is actually a little bit less than the amount of damage that they normally see from people picking fruit."

Tasmanian orchardist Scott Price thought he would never see an apple-picking robot in his lifetime. He reckons it will not be long before they will be driving up and down orchards on the Apple Isle. "A lot of new orchards would lend themselves very well to picking," Mr Price said.

"The biggest fear we have in the orchard game is people injuring themselves. "If the machine injures itself we'll just take it back to the workshop and try to fix it, so that would be a bonus."

Mr Price said not every farm would have the robots in the next five to 10 years, but bigger properties may. "And there may be a machine shared amongst growers," he said. "Technology will change very rapidly, I'm sure."

Abundant Robotics' commercial release of its robotic apple picker is planned for next year.



Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

AS-level Politics: Party Divisions – The Labour Party

Clause One of the Labour Party's constitution commits it to maintaining a strong parliamentary party:

“[The party’s] purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party.”

Given that Jeremy Corbyn is opposed by 95% of his own MPs (only 15 MPs voted for him in the 2015 ballot; he wasn't required, as the incumbent leader, to check out that support again in 2016), the first obvious division within Labour would appear to be that between those who want to maintain a strong parliamentary party  (the MPs who opoosed Corbyn) and those who want to make it more a grassroots-run organisation (principally Corbyn supporting groups like Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy).  This New Statesman editorial summarises and comments on the division. 

The policy differences, of course, are severe. The leaking of Labour's election manifesto suggested serious opposition within the party to it.  It has become a fundamentally binary struggle between one-time Blairite or "centrist" Labour members (the majority of the parliamentary party) and the more left-wing, nationalising tendency (Corbyn and his grassroots supporters).

The "Economist" neatly summed it up thus:

Labour is not so much an organised political party as a blood-soaked battleground between two warring factions: the far-left faction, led by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and including acolytes such as Dianne Abbot and Emily Thornberry, and “moderate” Labour. “Moderate” Labour consists of the bulk of their MPs, including Yvette Cooper, the moderate wing’s current leader and wife of Gordon Brown’s right-hand man, Ed Balls, Stephen Kinnock, the son of the party’s former leader, Neil Kinnock and Hillary Benn, the son of the left’s former champion, Tony Benn, as well as the majority of traditional Labour voters. The Corbynistas consist of hard-left activists, many of them former members of Marxist groupuscles, who joined the party in huge numbers in the past couple of years. The manifesto is pure Corbynism. The leak is clearly an attempt by the anti-Corbyn faction to embarrass Mr Corbyn and derail his launch.

(The whole piece - from Bagehot - is worth reading).

The moderate Labour faction draws its ideological position from the recent history of New Labour, personified by Tony Blair and given shape by Peter Mandelson (and, as it happens, Gordon Brown despite his attempts to subvert it through personal opposition to Blair). More distantly, it is comparable to most previous Labour leaders such as Wilson and Gaitskell, fundamentally social democrats who believed in working effectively through parliament to gradually change Britain's economic and social institutions towards achievement of the cause of equality.  They propounded a broadly "strong", pro-US foreign policy (supporting British possession of a nuclear deterrent) with the belief in a mixed economy.  Blair's spin on this was outlined in the so-called "Third Way", a belief that Labour's brand of social democracy had to adapt to the post-Thatcher era by embracing privatisation but coupling it to the public sector (Public Private Partnerships).  He also adopted a more clearly socially liberal attitude (notably in the field of liberalising legislation on same-sex relationships).

The left-wing Labour faction of Corbyn has a new movement supporting it (Momentum) and an old one (the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy).  Somewhat ironically the CLPD is an old Bennite movement.  Tony Benn was the leader of the left in the 1980s, the last time Labour took a severe leftward turn, and his son Hillary is now one of the leading moderates in the parliamentary Labour Party, sacked as shadow Foreign Secretary by Jeremy Corbyn.  This left grouping draws its ideological position from a more radical, even revolutionary brand of socialism that despises the democratic socialism of the moderates.  They believe in a grassroots movement and a return to a state run economy, coupled with more recent cultural issues related to diversity and opposition to "country" actions like hunting and badger culling.  They also tend to embrace immigration as a positive force.

The divisions above seem straightforward enough - a classic left v right - but are muddied by the division of ordinary Labour supporters into social activists and traditional members.  The social activists who dominate Momentum are young, active on social media and committed to a range of left social causes.  The traditional Labour members are more conservative socially, oppose immigration and also tend to favour Brexit (which Corbyn, after much hesitation, supported and continues to support).  For Labour's electoral success, much depends on where these traditional members and voters decide to cast their vote, with early polling evidence suggesting that many would not vote for Corbyn.

The moderate, or social democratic, element of the Labour Party remain in a quandary.  The Labour leadership has moved far away from them, taking with it many of their constituency memberships.  There is no guarantee that Corbyn would leave the leadership if he loses (he has said that he will stay on) and should the October conference approve a further reduction in MPs' power to select future leadership candidates, they may find it impossible to restore a moderate leadership.  Which begs the question of where they go.  They are ideologically opposed to the Liberal Democrats, but the last example of moderate Labour MPs trying to form a new parliamentary grouping and national party - the Social Democratic Party of the 1980s - was ultimately a failure.

If Corbyn wins - an unlikely scenario even given the Yougov poll projecting Tory seat losses -  then moderate Labour MPs will find themselves having to support a left-wing Labour government whose policies they fundamentally disagree with, or opposing their own party in government and signing their death warrant in the constituencies.

Win or lose, Labour's existential crisis isn't going away.

Soup and Recession

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