Thursday, 31 October 2013

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's 50 day boast is risible

Herald Sun 26 October 2013:

Fifty days into the job, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he's already delivered on many of his election promises, and that includes stopping the boats.

The Prime Minister made this boast fifty days after the 7 September 2013 federal election.

Since Tony Abbott was sworn in a Prime Minister of Australia on 18 September there has been an estimated 13 SIEV boats that either arrived in Australian waters or were found in distress in international waters in the 33 days up to the last Sovereign Borders reporting period.

This roughly averages out to two boat arrivals each day.

Perhaps the Prime Minister might like to explain how this is a “delivered” election promise?

It was an impossible promise when he made it - a fact of which he was well aware.

Surprise, surprise - most Australian newspapers ignore peer-reviewed climate change science

The Guardian 31 October 2013:

One third of articles in Australia’s major newspapers rejected or cast doubt on the overwhelming findings of climate science, with climate sceptic Andrew Bolt monopolising coverage of the topic in several high-circulation News Corporation titles, according to a new analysis.
A study of 602 articles in 10 newspapers by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism found that 32% dismissed or questioned whether human activity was causing the climate to change. The articles were analysed between February and April in 2011 and again in the same period in 2012.
Significantly, newspapers based a small fraction of their coverage on peer-reviewed science, instead relying heavily on comment pieces penned by writers without a scientific background.
According to the research, the number of articles on climate science decreased in 2012 compared to the previous year, although the tone became more sharply sceptical of the established scientific position in this period.
When measured according to words allocated to an article, 31% did not accept established climate science in 2011, with this number rising to 44% in 2012.
The high levels of scepticism were driven by the editorial leanings of market-leading News Corporation titles and, in particular, its syndicated columnist Andrew Bolt, the study found.....

The Australian Centre for Independent Journalism 2012 study:

The Australian Centre for Independent Journalism 2011 study:


·    Overall, negative coverage of the Gillard government’s carbon policy across ten newspapers outweighed positive coverage across ten Australian newspapers by 73% to 27%. (Note: After neutral items were discounted).See Section 4.5, Content of articles: Stance towards the 2011 Carbon Reduction Policy
·     All papers contained some positive and a substantial amount of neutral material. The highest level of neutral articles was found in The Age and The Mercury, the lowest level was found in the NT News and The Daily TelegraphSee Section 4.5, Content of articles: Stance towards the 2011 Carbon Reduction Policy
·     After neutral items were discounted, negative coverage (82%) across News Ltd newspapers far outweighed positive (18%) articles. This indicates a very strong stance against the carbon policy adopted by the company that controls most Australian metropolitan newspapers, and the only general national daily. See Section 4.5, Content of articles: Stance towards the 2011 Carbon Reduction Policy
·     By comparison, Fairfax was far more balanced in its coverage of the policy than News Ltd publications with 57% positive articles outweighing 43% negative articles.See Section 4.5, Content of articles: Stance towards the 2011 Carbon Reduction Policy
·         The Age was more positive (67%) rather than negative towards the policy than any other newspaper. The Daily Telegraph was the most negative (89%) rather than positive of newspapers. See Section 4.5, Content of articles: Stance towards the 2011 Carbon Reduction Policy
·     Headlines were less balanced than the actual content of articles. See.
·     Neutral articles were more likely to be headlined negative (41%) than positive (19%).See Section 4.6, Carbon Tax or Carbon Policy? Defining the debate
·     Readers relying on metropolitan newspapers living in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane received more coverage of carbon policy issues than readers in Perth, Adelaide and Darwin. See Section 4.2 Number of articles
·     The Australian gave far more space to the coverage of climate change than any other newspaper. Its articles were coded 47% negative, 44% neutral and 9% positive. When neutrals were discounted, there were 84% negative articles compared to 17% positive. See Section 4.5, Content of articles: Stance towards the 2011 Carbon Reduction Policy


These findings are based on an analysis of the first three sources quoted in all news and features.
·     11% of news and features quoted no source and 30% of the rest quoted only one source. The claims by many single sources about the likely impact of the carbon policy were not tested against the views of other sources. Only 42% of the rest of the articles included more than two sources. See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Political sources were used more frequently than any other sources (54% of all sources), reflecting the intensity of the political debate. See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Federal Labor sources were 28% of all first sources. See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Business sources (23%) received greater representation overall than Coalition political sources (18%).See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Fossil fuel lobby and other big business sources opposed to the policy were very strongly represented, often without any critique or second source. See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Clean energy and other businesses sources in favour of the tax received low coverage, particularly in News Ltd papers. They complained during the campaign that they were excluded and adopted specific strategies to address this with some success. See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Although they played a key role in negotiations, The Australian Greens received low coverage (5% of all sources).See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Business sources (23%) receive more coverage than all Australian civil society sources together including unions, NGOS, think tanks, activists, members of the public, religious spokespeople, scientists and academics (17%).See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Business sources quoted 4 or more times over the 6-month period were quoted being negative towards the policy in almost 80% of occasions. Many Australian readers would have been left with the impression that the nearly the entire business community was opposed to the carbon price policy. In fact this was far from the truth. See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Bluescope Steel was quoted 71 times, substantially more than any other business source. This was more than the number of times all NGOs and scientists combined were quoted. See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Figure 17 also shows that peak councils such as the Business Council of Australia, Minerals Councils of Australia and Australian Coal Association achieved very strong representation. See Section 4.8, Sources quoted
·     Academics and scientists were also poorly represented. See Section 4.8, Sources quoted


·     Journalists or regular columnists wrote 75% of opinion pieces. See Section 4.10, Opinion
·     59% of that commentary was negative, 23% neutral and 18% positive. 
·     All newspapers carried some positive commentary. See Section 4.10, Opinion
·     The Herald Sun opinion writers were overwhelmingly negative (96%). The Courier Mail (89%), The Australian (85%), The Daily Telegraph (85%), The NT News (85%) and The West Australian (85%) were also very negative in their commentary. (When neutral figures were removed).See Section 4.10, Opinion
·     The Mercury was more balanced in its commentary than other News Ltd papers. See Section 4.10, Opinion
·     Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann, who are sceptical towards the scientific consensus on anthropomorphic climate change, published more opinion pieces on the carbon pricing policy than any other commentators. See Section 4.10, Opinion
·     Together, opinion writers who are sceptical of the scientific consensus on climate change including McCrann, Bolt, Tim Blair, Miranda Devine, Piers Akerman and Christopher Pearson accounted for at least 21% of all words of commentary published by journalists and regular commentators in the ten newspapers over this period. Their columns are prominently featured online, often accompanied by highly negative cartoons and illustrations. See Section 4.10, Opinion
·     Opinion pieces in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age were more evenly distributed between negative and positive than News Ltd opinion pieces. See Section 4.10, Opinion
·     The Age was the only paper to publish more positive commentary (59%) compared to negative (41%). See Section 4.10, Opinion
·     Fairfax newspapers did not publish any opinion articles by climate sceptics about climate policy, during this period. See Section 4.10, Opinion

Metgasco vainly hopes Northern Rivers opposition to its proposed coal seam gas fields has "bottomed out"

Metgasco hopes that the opposition to the industry has bottomed out and that it will see steady improvement in community and NSW Government support, sufficient for it to restart CSG activities as well, according to its 28 October 2013 Quarterly Activities Report: Quarter Ended 30 September 2013*.

A quick Google search appears to squash this hope.

The Northern Star 22 October 2013:
ALMOST two-thirds of Richmond Valley residents are against CSG development, an independent Southern Cross University survey has revealed.
The exit poll survey was held - conducted on Federal election day, September 7 this year and - asked: "Do you support coal seam gas exploration and production in the Richmond Valley Council area?"
Of the 605 residents surveyed, 65% were opposed to coal seam gas, while 18% were in support and 17% undecided....
The referendum-style question asked by SCU researchers was identical to the question used in the Lismore CSG poll at the Lismore council elections last year, where 87% of people said they opposed coal seam gas....

CSG Free Northern Rivers Media Release 23 October 2013:
Northern Rivers community representatives say “No Deal” to Federal Energy Minister and Metgasco.
Tourism operator and Marine Biologist Wendy Craig Duncan and Ian Gaillard , regional coordinator of Lock the Gate Community put the case to keep the Northern Rivers free of industrial gasfields at a ‘stakeholders’ meeting held in the office of the Federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane today.
The meeting called at short notice in Canberra included local member Kevin Hogan and local farming, gas industry and state government  representatives.
The Minister and Metgasco were provided with latest survey results showing that the vast majority of local residents, including those in the Richmond Valley LGA are opposed to gasfield development.
“This has now become a test of democracy, we have an overwhelming majority across the Northern Rivers opposed to gasfield development, including the Federal MPs for Richmond and Page who come from different sides of politics. It's time for state and federal governments to listen to the community rather than to the industry lobbyists and stop this unwanted industrial invasion”, Mr Gaillard said.
Mr Gaillard added “Given the lack of support for the Industry, the way forward in the Northern Rivers would be to formulate an exit plan for Metgasco so it can cut its losses.”
“Northern Rivers residents do not want Invasive Gas fields and there are so many serious questions unanswered about the safety and impact of this industry.” said Ian Gaillard.
Wendy Craig Duncan told the meeting:
“The NSW government exclusion zones are an admission that CSG mining has negative impacts. All residential dwellings ,agricultural land and water catchments must be included in these zones ,with no exceptions or compromises. “
Mrs Craig Duncan said that to exclude any resident is akin to creating a sub-class within our society, where certain people’s health and livelihoods are seen as expendable or collateral damage. This is just not acceptable.
Contact. Ian Gaillard.           0431 108784
Wendy Craig Duncan.      0423369373

The Daily Examiner 23 October 2013:

Message is clear
I SEE that The Daily Examiner's letters to the editor section is still making heavy going out of one particular coal seam gas exploration/mining survey, whose respondents predominantly did not favour the industry in question.
However, there has been more than one Australian survey on the subject and these surveys, which have been conducted by Essential Research, Galaxy, Newspoll, Nielsen, MyOpinions Research and Southern Cross University over the course of the last three years, show that most of those surveyed recognise the potential adverse effects of such mining.
This one quoted below was conducted this year.
"Research undertaken for NSW landholder groups has confirmed that a massive 85% of people surveyed agree that the coal and coal seam gas industries are threatening our water supplies, including groundwater.
"The poll of 1100 people in New South Wales conducted by Essential Research also revealed that 81% of those surveyed agreed that the coal and coal seam gas industries threaten the state's farmland and agricultural industries.
"Also of concern, but not new to NSW Farmers was the finding that 81% of respondents to the poll agreed that coal and coal seam gas extraction offered short-term economic return to investors but at the expense of local long-term industries such as farming and tourism.
"NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson said these messages, which are strong and incredibly consistent across all areas of the state are still not getting through to the government." [NSW Farmers media release, June 20, 2013]
Hall & Partners Open Mind, on behalf of one national newspaper, also conducted a survey of senior oil and gas executives this year which found that "69% agreed community concern over the effect of CSG production on groundwater was valid."
Judith M. Melville

ABC News Mid North Coast 24 October 2013:

The Ballina Mayor says he'd like to see a coal seam gas exclusion zone around the entire shire.
Councillors this week supported a staff recommendation to ask the State Government to protect more agricultural land from CSG development.
David Wright says the council also wants a two-kilometre buffer zone around the villages of Tintenbar and Newrybar.
He says virtually no-one supports the industry setting up in Ballina.
"Maybe a two-kilometre exclusion zone around the entire boundary of the shire would be appropriate," Cr Wright said....

The Northern Star 25 October 2013:

BALLINA Shire Council will write to the State Government asking for the villages of Newrybar and Tintenbar to be included in the coal seam gas exclusion zones.
The council's submission will also include a statement that the council "does not support CSG mining anywhere within the shire".

 Daily News (Tweed Heads) 26 October 2013:

A LEFT-leaning think tank is accusing the coal seam gas industry of hiding information from the public, dismissing environmental damage while spruiking potentially exaggerated financial benefits.
A report by The Australian Institute titled, What Australians Don't Know About CSG, is the result of an online survey of 1400 people about the industry.
The institute publishes research largely critical of the resources industry - its last 10 reports on the sector have been negative.
Its claims are disputed by the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association - the industry peak body with members including some of the world's largest gas companies.
According to the institute, a third of the population had no knowledge of CSG. Most did not know the difference between CSG and liquefied natural gas, which is a compressed and processed version of the gas that is then exported.
Almost 90% of those surveyed felt farmers should be able to refuse gas exploration on their land. The institute's senior economist Matt Grundoff said this was the result of the industry trying to keep a low profile. Findings also suggested just 2% felt it was a key issue that politicians should act on, ranking number 13 out of 15 other issues....

Coal Seam Gas News 30 October 2013:

Mr Ian Gaillard, Northern Rivers regional coordinator for Lock The Gate and several other  gasfield-free activists attended today’s Metgasco AGM in North Sydney. Mr Gaillard says the mood in the meeting was one of ‘frustration boiling over’.
Mr Gaillard reported that “The CEO had told the meeting that the last 2 years had been frustrating and difficult and he also revealed that the company had expected community concern would subside after March 2011 state election but it didn’t, it escalated.”
“CEO Peter Henderson also told the meeting that the investment climate for our industry in NSW is zero and that no one wants to come into our acreage.” Mr Gaillard said......


The Northern Star 31 October 2013:

LOCAL environmental scientist and coal-seam gas activist Boudicca Cerese has been named on an honour roll of "hidden treasures" at the NSW Rural Women's Gathering in Scone held last weekend.
The annual Department of Primary Industries-sponsored list recognises the contribution of rural women in the community in a variety of volunteer roles.
A resident of the Northern Rivers for 20 years, Ms Cerese (pictured) became involved in the local opposition against CSG in late 2010 when she led an effort to lobby against Metgasco's planned Lions Way pipeline.
This included directing a petition bound for then-environment Minister Tony Burke to consider World Heritage impacts of the planned pipeline.
Metgasco ended up abandoning the project as a short-term priority following the increased community resistance....

Mudgee Guardian 1 November 2013:

A horseback trek from Clarence Valley to Canberra passed through Bylong on Wednesday, protesting coal seam gas and promoting “clean water as our most valuable resource”.
This afternoon “The Woop Woop March” arrives in Rylstone after six weeks crossing the state’s bushland, country roads and travelling stock routes.
Leading the constant brigade of about seven riders to Parliament House is Glenugie stockman Mick Franklin. His family have been on the land since the 1800s.
“We are protesting CSG and just as importantly promoting sustainable farming and clean water,” he said.
“I’ve donated a few horses and invited anybody to come and join us on the ride from Clarence to Canberra. You don’t have to be an expert rider as we’ve had some riders on the journey who were still learning.”
The troupe have seen their neighbours fight CSG battles in the Clarence Valley and are concerned about potentially damaging effects to the water supply. 
Before this trek began Mr Franklin took “fact finding” trips to Tara and Chinchilla, through the Wieambilla Estate in Queensland. He said it was evident how many of the country’s regional towns had become “industrialised”.

 * Metgasco ordinary shares fell by 3.57% on 28 October 2013 immediately after the release of the September quarterly activities report.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Abbott Government removes Clarence Valley from NBN scheduled rollout map

Under the former Federal Labor Government 20,700 homes and businesses across the Page electorate were to have an NBN connection or one underway by 30 June 2016, including those in Angourie, Iluka, Wooloweyah, Yamba, Clarenza, Grafton, Junction Hill, South Grafton, Waterview Heights, Coraki, Evans Head, Gulmarrad, Harwood, Maclean, Townsend and Woodburn.

Sometimes since 18 September 2013 the Abbott Government has quietly removed these towns form the National Broadband Network scheduled rollout map for New South Wales:

Here comes Work Choices Mark II?

This is The Australian reporting on Federal Small Business Minister Bruce Billson on 30 October 2013:



The primary aim of WorkChoices was to individualise employment relations and, as a consequence, to marginalise both trade unions and industrial tribunals. Further aims of WorkChoices included:
To offer employers greater flexibility in the terms and conditions on which they could employ workers;
To reduce the role played by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in determining employment conditions and resolving industrial disputes;
To make it more difficult for unions to enter workplaces or organise industrial action; and
To reduce the exposure of employers to unfair dismissal claims.
The system was heavily criticised on the basis that many low-income earners and small business employees were being hurt by the legislation. They argued that as a result of WorkChoices they were losing conditions at work, penalty rates and overtime were being taken away, and too many of them were being unfairly dismissed, with little remedial action available.

Treatment of Grafton workers lower than a snake's belly 6 February 2009:

Directors of companies used to hire workers for the parent company operating Grafton abattoir are still giving former workers (sacked without receiving their due entitlements) the runaround.
It seems that no-one is taking responsibility.
And now Liberals MP Bronwyn Bishop is jumping on the bandwagon with offers of help.
Yep, Bronnie - you helped set up the WorkChoices legislation which virtually encouraged employers to shaft workers and now you want to help.
Too little, too late, mate.

WorkChoices was replaced by the Fair Work Act which came into operation on 1 July 2009.

Support your local TAFE. Do your block from 11-17 November 2013

Climate change and a government in denial

While Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was busy telling the world: I accept that climate change is a reality. And I support policies that will be effective in reducing emissions, but I do think there is too much climate-change alarmism and that executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,Christiana Figueres was; talking through her hat.  

And Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt is accusing a BBC journalist of swearing by accurately quoting his prime minister and using crowd-sourced Wikipedia as a font of climate change science

A Federal Government department was being factually accurate and the national media was reminding the Abbott Government that former Coalition Prime Minister John Howard accepted the causal link between climate change and bushfire risk in 2006:

3.1.4 Altered fire regimes

Fire presents a major threat to reserved lands and their constituent species and ecosystems, but also to a wide variety of cultural heritage assets. Wildfire science is complex, and the pressures and impacts depend on a combination of management regimes and the responses of different plant groups.37 These factors will be affected by climate change, which will change the nature, intensity and frequency of fires.....

Andrew Darby in St Helens, Tasmania
December 14, 2006
THE Prime Minister, John Howard, last night embraced a key climate change forecast, warning Australians to prepare for more extreme weather events such as the current bushfires.
Visiting north-east Tasmania, he repeatedly made the point that the region was not normally associated with bushfires, and neither were they usually so common early in the summer.
On his last stop in St Helens, Mr Howard was asked if he accepted the scientists' predictions of more extreme weather events.
"Let me put it this way," he said. "I think the country should prepare for a continuation of what we are now experiencing … I think the likelihood of this going on is very strong."

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Comparing Labor and Coalition borrowings in 2013

According to Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash on 14 August 2013; This year, Labor is borrowing $83 million per day.

On 3 September 2013 in a joint media release then Liberal shadow ministers Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb repeated this complaint;  Labor continues to borrow $83 million on average every day and posited Just imagine where debt will get to with another three years of Labor.

According to the Australian Office of Financial Management, since it was sworn in on 18 September 2013 the Abbott Government has borrowed an est. $265 million per day as of 29 October 2013.

Perhaps Treasurer Hockey and Minister for Trade and Investment Robb might like to explain why the Abbott Government is now borrowing at a higher rate than the former Labor Government if such debt is as bad as the Coalition has repeatedly asserted since 2007.

If Labor and the Greens hold firm families across the Northern Rivers may get the Schoolkids Bonus again next January - and perhaps retain other benefits

The bad news......

On 24 October 2013, the Government released an exposure draft of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2013 and explanatory memorandum for public consideration.
The Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2013 removes the Minerals Resource Rent Tax with effect from 1 July 2014. The Bill also discontinues or re-phases the measures that were intended to be funded by the MRRT. The Bill includes the:
·         repeal of loss carry back;
·         reduction in the small business instant asset write off threshold;
·         repeal of accelerated depreciation for motor vehicles;
·         repeal of the geothermal exploration provisions;
·         re-phasing of the change in rate of the superannuation guarantee charge percentage;
·         repeal of the low income superannuation contribution;
·         repeal of the income support bonus; and
·         repeal of the schoolkids bonus.

Explanatory Memorandum
Exposure Draft

The Abbott Government expects to save $17 billion by repealing these eight measures.

What this means in money/tax concessions lost to ordinary families on the Northern Rivers.

      * How much of the legislated Superannuation Guarantee increase employed persons won’t be getting between 2016 to 2020 once this repeal bill is passed:

      How much those earning under $37,000 per annum will lose from their superannuation each year when the Low income Superannuation Contribution is extinguished once the repeal bill is passed:

$500 per annum

      How much eligible individuals will lose with the abolition of the Income Support Bonus under the repeal bill:

$211.60 for a single person per annum
$176.40 per annum per person in a couple.*

*Eligible members of a couple separated by illness, or couples where a partner is in
respite care or in gaol, receive the single rate of $105.80 (or $211.60 per
annum per person).

      How much each eligible school child will lose when the Schoolkids Bonus is repealed under this bill:

Primary school child $410 per year
High school child $820 per year

The hopeful news.....  24 October 2013:

Despite Tony Abbott's vow to axe Julia Gillard's Schoolkids Bonus, the Government yesterday revealed that couldn't happen unless the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) is repealed.
About 1.3 million families receiving Family Tax Benefit A are due to get the biannual payment of $410 per high school child and $205 per primary school child in January.
While the Prime Minister said scrapping the assistance was a tough call, the Government maintains the MRRT is not earning enough to pay its linked spending promises.
The contentious laws raised far less revenue than Labor predicted and Treasurer Joe Hockey said abolishing them could save the Budget more than $13 billion in the next four years as he released draft repeal laws.
But Labor indicated it's leaning towards joining the Greens to block the repeal in the Senate.
While the MRRT laws stand, so does the school payment, Income Support Bonus for welfare recipients, business tax concessions and a boost to the superannuation of 3.6 million low income earners.
Mr Hockey called on Labor to respect the Coalition's mandate to dismantle the MRRT and associated spending.....

It is time to phone Federal Labor MPs on this list and Labor and Greens Senators on this list and urge them to reject the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2013 in its entirety in order to preserve all eight of the provisions the Abbott Government seeks to abolish, in particular those existing superannuation and education provisions.

Monday, 28 October 2013

So why did Prime Minister Abbott phone President Obama?

Sometime during the evening of 11 September 2013 US President Barack Obama telephoned the then Australian Prime Minister-elect, Tony Abbott, and later his office circulated this media release:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 12, 2013
Readout of the President’s Calls with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Prime Minister-Elect Tony Abbott of Australia
The President called Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott last night to congratulate him and the Opposition Coalition for his success in the Australia federal election on September 7.  The President and Mr. Abbott discussed their grave concern about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, and the viability of the Russian proposal to put all Syrian chemical weapons and related materials fully under international control in order to ensure their verifiable and enforceable destruction.  The President and Prime Minister-elect discussed ways to further strengthen the U.S.-Australia alliance, including by implementing fully the force posture initiatives announced by the United States and Australia in November 2011.  They also discussed the importance of concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations this year.
The President also called outgoing Prime Minister Rudd.  The President thanked Prime Minister Rudd for his friendship, leadership, and unflinching support of the U.S.-Australia relationship, as well as for his strong position on the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on August 21.
Australian media also covered the courtesy call in detail.
However, I’ve yet to hear a word about a second telephone call which Tony Abbott disclosed during a telephone interview with The Washington Post conducted sometime between 20 to 24 October 2013:
He’s a very busy man, and I don’t want to make his life more complicated by demanding an early meeting. He was good enough to take a phone call from me after the election. I expect to visit the United States sometime next year.