Posted by: jkirkby8712 | November 9, 2011

Tuesday, 8th November 2011 – carbon tax goes through the Senate!

I had a rare quest on my radio show last night – New Zealand expat and member of the Sunbury Uniting Church – Dell came in, ostensibly to promote the Giant Car Boot Sale & Stalls happening there in a couple of weeks, but perhaps of more interest to our listeners, play some songs by that wonderful young Kiwi singer, Hayley Westenra. She had sung the New Zealand National Anthem prior to the recent World Cup Rugby Final, and I’d commented at the time to Dell how impressed I had been with both the French and Kiwi anthems  –  two of the most inspirational national anthems going around these days! Of course, I had to introduce Dell to the program, by playing an abbreviated version of her anthem [which she promptly stood to – very patriotic indeed!!].

Some news from Federal Parliament today, which will no doubt please half the community, and displease the rest.   As AAP reported, the Australian Senate today passed bills that will make the nation’s 500 largest polluters pay a tax on the carbon they release into the atmosphere. Prime Minister Julia Gillard had promised not to push for a carbon tax during elections last year, but has since said it is Australia’s best option. Australia is one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas emitters per capita because of its heavy reliance on abundant reserves of coal to generate electricity.  “This reform is right for our country’s future, it’s the right thing to do,” Gillard told reporters Tuesday.  So beginning July 1, next year,  Australia’s largest polluters will pay 23 Australian dollars ($24) for every metric ton of carbon gases they produce.

While members of the public applauded when the bills were passed with support from Gillard’s Labor Party minority government and the minor Greens party, the opinion polls continue to show the tax is unpopular.  Critics argue that Australian businesses will become uncompetitive because the carbon tax is too high. The Australian Financial Review newspaper reported Tuesday that in Europe, where a system of trading carbon credits is in place, businesses will pay between AU$8.70 and AU$12.60 a metric ton because carbon prices have crashed to four-year lows. Gillard, whose government faces elections in two years, is hoping that the tax does not prove as unpopular as the polls suggest. The government is also hoping that many people will even consider themselves better off under the tax because many will get assistance to offset higher utility bills. “I understand this has been a bitter debate and there are Australians who still view carbon pricing with a great deal of anxiety,” she said.  The tax will be the government’s main tool to achieve its target of reducing Australia’s carbon emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

And the Opposition view, expresses rather clearly, it’s ongoing opposition, in the following words  –   about which we have constantly being reminded adnausem   for over 12 months now  ‘Today Julia Gillard and the Labor Party have confirmed in law their betrayal of the Australian people.  The carbon tax is a toxic tax based on a lie from a Prime Minister who promised days before the last election “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”.  This new tax is a blow to the future of Australian manufacturing and a new burden for families struggling under cost of living increases. The tax will increase but the so-called compensation won’t.  On the Government’s own figures, three million Australian households will be worse off under the carbon tax. In the absence of action by other nations, all that the Gillard Government has done today is export jobs and emissions overseas. Julia Gillard has no mandate from the people for this new tax.  At the next election, we will seek a mandate from the Australian people to repeal this tax. The Coalition’s position is principled, it is clear to all and it will free the economy from the red tape, costs and job losses that the carbon tax will produce.  I friend on Face Book [who is very Labor orientated] expressed his delight at an ‘historic’ occasion for the Government.  I had to respond that such a description probably depended on your interpretation of ‘historic’.  There have been so many arguments over the last few years both for and against this carbon tax, and the whole question of climate change, that it is very easy for ordinary people such as myself to be completely taken in [or, alternatively] bamboozled by the spin attached to many of those arguments.  Certainly the official Opposition trend of attack has become a bit worn and ‘jaded’ by now, and I’ve resigned myself to a ‘wait and see’ situation  – accepting that something needed to be done, something has been done – let’s see how it all turns out. I’m not convinced at the government side of the argument, but equally, I’m not ‘impressed’ by the Opposition approach, basically, neither side has produced an adequate, easily understandable argument that I should be supporting one or the other. My fear is that the issue has been forced through by the Government, irrespective of possible consequences, because it was a policy that Gillard could  then claim to have succeeded with. I just hope that on the more important issue, to my mind, of our refugee policies, that a similar outcome is not achieved. That would be a true disaster for our Australian culture of humanity and compassion, which sadly has been eroded away over the past decade by the attitudes that our governments have been pushing on how we should treat refugees and asylum seekers!! 

The other ‘big news item’ of today was something I found rather distasteful  –  I know nothing about the detail of the ‘Michael Jackson’ trial, but I found the outcome, announced today [or Monday in the USA I believe] to be a case of power and wealth determined to ensure that somebody took the fall for Jackson’s death, rather than accept the fact, that perhaps his own lifestyle and ‘habits and addictions’ were the real cause!! But who am I to say that?  When Michael Jackson died two years ago, fans around the world erupted in a torrent of grief and anguish. Today, there were apparently hugs, tears and shrieks of joy amongst the fans [and family] outside a Los Angeles courtroom, after the jury found Jackson’s personal physician guilty of involuntary manslaughter over the singer’s death.  As reported officially, ‘Dr Conrad Murray looked like a defeated man before the jury spoke, his eyes vacant and lips pursed as he sat in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom in front of pop icon Michael Jackson’s family, his own loved ones and cameras beaming his fate live around the world. The look remained when the 12-member jury’s verdict was revealed while Jackson’s sister, La Toya, sitting in the second row of the public gallery, let out a loud shriek.   Murray, a 58-year-old Caribbean-born cardiologist earning $US150000 a month to care for Jackson, was found guilty of the pop star’s involuntary manslaughter. The jury’s verdict was swift – less than nine hours of deliberation after a six week trial – but not as speedy as the burly LA County Sheriffs who moved in behind Murray, guided his hands behind his back and slapped on handcuffs while Judge Michael Pastor was still addressing the court. “We can wait a few moments,” the judge told the sheriffs, who stepped back, but kept Murray cuffed.   Murray faces up to four years’ jail, however just as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and other LA celebrity inmates have shown, California’s crowded jail system grants non-violent offenders early release.   I personally hope that is the fate given to Murray, who faced an  impossible task of being found anything else but guilty.

On a more personal front, I went back to ‘work’ today for a short visit of 5 hours – to assist in some interviews for my ‘replacement’  –  interviewed three ladies, at the conclusion of which there was no general agreement as to one or other was completely suitable. One quite experienced candidate would in fact have suited the situation, however there appeared to be an ‘unspoken’ fear by the two people who would have to work with her, that her experience, etc would eventually lead to her giving the impression of ‘taking over’, another example of the kind of paranoia that I was glad to get away from when I left!  I had in fact been surprised at the three names chosen for interview, as having read a number of the potential applicants before I left a couple of weeks ago, I had felt there were better qualified applicants.  I guess that was proven out, when it was decided to hold ‘more’ interviews this coming Friday, another three, which by coincidence included those I’d felt should have been seen in the first place. Of course, I do need to keep in mind – it is not me who will have to work with the successful applicant!

I actually travelled to Northcote and back by train today – took me back 6 six years to when I would undertake that trip on a daily basis, although admittedly on an earlier [and later, for the return] train. I’m certainly glad that I made a change to that routine – I continue to see people get off the trains at the same time every evening who were doing the same thing, six years ago – to me, that kind of monotonous never- change situation was somewhat depressing to think about, but for many people, they probably spend a working lifetime with the same routine, year after year after year.  While I had some unwanted disruptions to my working life from time to time, through retrenchments, etc, and did change the genre of jobs, work locations, means of getting there, etc, on many occasions over 46 years, I think I preferred to have done that, in preference to never changing anything.  Probably worse off financially and in terms of future security, however, that was my choice, and how things turned out. Anyway, those two train trips today gave me an excellent opportunity to do a bit of reading. After finishing Di Morrissey’s excellent latest novel the other day, I immediately came across another of her novels which I’d not previously got around to reading, and against plans to the contrary, immediately got my nose into it  –  one of her earlier books ‘Follow The Morning Star’ published in 1993.




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