25 Oct 2017

The NBN blame game will ensure that what we receive a second rate system.

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The blame game must stop if we are to end up with the system we deserve.

Excerpt from an article by Tooran Alizadeh
Senior Lecturer, Director of Urban Design
University of Sydney

The NBN and blaming one party over another has been part of the national misfortune around the NBN. But, I believe, the inequality of the NBN is part of a bigger trend in infrastructure decision making in Australia that fails to fully account for the socioeconomic implications. Other examples of this trend are seen in major (controversial) transport projects around the nation (e.g. East West Link in Melbourne, WestConnex in Sydney).

Current and future Australian governments must accept responsibility, and find a way forward for the NBN that is built on the notion of equitable service.

We can start with questions such as who needs the service the most, and who can do the most with it. These two questions refer to the social inclusion and productivity implications of the NBN.

The NBN, as a publicly funded national infrastructure project, has to be equitable to be a truly nation building platform. As long as it is failing some, it is failing us all as a nation.

Essential services — energy, retirement savings and communication — have been mangled by politics

Politics makes a mess of essential services

  • The Australian
In a press release last Monday, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said: “Consumers and businesses are faced with a multitude of complex offers that cannot be compared easily”.
He was talking about electricity, but he could easily have been referring to the NBN and superannuation as well.
Each of these essential services — energy, retirement savings and communication — have been mangled by politics, and as a result are hopelessly confusing and expensive.
Complaints about the NBN jumped from 10,487 to 27,195 last year, or 75 per day; this week former Liberal Party treasurer Peter Costello effectively proposed nationalising super; and the ACCC reported that electricity prices had gone up 63 per cent in 10 years.
Progress was unexpectedly made on energy politics this week when Energy Security Board, and its chair Kerry Schott, came from nowhere and galloped through on the rails brandishing something called a National Energy Guarantee, to snatch the prize as the solver of Australia’s excessive energy prices from Alan Finkel.
The NEG was needed because Finkel’s Clean Energy Target suffered from poor branding. He should never have used the word “clean” — it was a red rag to the pro-coal, anti-renewable brigade.
Clean? Carbon dioxide isn’t dirty! What are you — some kind of renewables loving leftie nut? And “target” was the wrong word too — reminiscent of emissions targets.
It didn’t matter what was in the policy, the CET was never going to get past the Coalition party room because of its labelling.
Schott’s branding builds on the word “guarantee”. Brilliant! There’s been a bit of confusion because some people think it’s an actual guarantee, rather than just marketing, but we seem to be getting past that.
The CET and the NEG were invented by Alan Finkel and Kerry Schott, respectively, to achieve two political treaties: first within the Coalition and then within parliament, specifically between the Coalition and the ALP.
The first has basically been achieved, with only Tony Abbott still arguing for differentiation from the ALP at any cost.
Turnbull could possibly get the NEG through parliament with support of the crossbench senators, but that would be pointless. What’s required is agreement between the two main parties, so business and investors know the policy won’t change with a change of government and can invest confidently in the meantime.
It’s not yet clear whether Turnbull wants to try for a bipartisan policy. He is still flailing at the ALP using energy as a differentiator, which he will have to give up to produce the bipartisan policy that business is demanding.
Meanwhile the whole thing is shifting under the politicians’ feet. The basis of electricity is changing from commodities to technology, as energy analyst Bruce Robertson told me this week.
It’s a profound shift that makes all predictions about the future of this business unreliable. Commodities (coal, oil, gas) rise in price over time; technology prices fall, at unpredictable rates.
It definitely means electricity generation worldwide is now shifting from fossil fuels to renewables and batteries no matter what ­scientists say about global warming, and politicians decide to do about it. The NEG (or the CET or an ETS) is now only about regulating the speed of that transition so Australia can meet its Paris commitment.
That results in the “emissions guarantee” in the NEG, an admission that the previous (Abbott) idea of paying for emissions reduction — “Direct Action” — didn’t work, so retailers now have to be forced to do it ... anything but a market mechanism, which was the ALP’s idea and to be avoided at all costs, including the merest hint of permit trading.
Superannuation and the NBN are the other two victims of politics.
They were both invented by Labor, so the Coalition is against them. As a result, they now suffer from neglect and monopoly capture.
The NBN has too many points of interconnect (POIs) so a cartel of four wholesalers has developed. Telstra, Optus, TPG and Vocus are the only firms capable of connecting to all 121 POIs. The NBN Co privately acknowledges this, but says it’s too late to change it to reduce the number of POIs to something that would encourage true competition.
The failure of competition is the main reason there were 75,000 complaints last year, and probably still more this year.
The pricing structure is complicated and opaque because customers are required to choose both speed and data plans, which produces too many combinations. There should be one speed and a range of data plans, as there is with mobiles.
NBN Co acknowledges this as well, but apparently it’s too late to change this too. That’s because in order to earn the required return on capital, it would have to charge too much for that one speed, so there are cheaper slow-speed plans, which people buy thinking they’re getting high-speed fibre broadband, and end up frustrated and complaining.
Australian superannuation is the world’s largest cartel: thousands of funds and advisers are in on the joke, skimming billions in fees each year and making sure no customer knows what’s going on.
All efforts to improve the system through competition alone are doomed because customers don’t know, and can’t really find out, the only two things that are relevant to their choice: fees and returns.
Without clear, understandable and consistent information, competition cannot exist.
This week Peter Costello proposed a single government-owned national super fund, operated by the Future Fund, something I proposed in this column in August, and my friend John Wylie also proposed in a piece in Business Spectator in 2014.
It’s a good idea. The government should nurture the inner Marxist it has discovered this week with energy and extend it to super.

Palliative care, broken or ignored

Palliative care in Australia

Palliative care’s purpose is to enhance the quality of life for patients and their carers. It also aims to fulfil choices about care style and location for those approaching death. Politicians regularly express their support for palliative care. Yet, there is often a chasm between such positive rhetoric and actual delivery.

The gap isn’t new. A 2012 Senate review expressed concern at the “variance in the standard and quality of palliative care” across Australia. In April 2017, the New South Wales Auditor General was scathing in her criticisms of the state’s services, and in 2015 the Victorian Auditor General highlighted “room for improvement” – this in a state recognised as having the gold standard in palliative care.

A report by the Grattan Institute in 2014 also identified a need for better end-of-life services across Australia.

24 Oct 2017

Senate estimates committee asks about Goldfish.

Goldfish radar'

The committee also heard the Department of Immigration's rules around pet ownership for asylum seekers even extend to goldfish.
Leaked documents last week revealed asylum seekers will be forced to get government permission before buying a pet.
The move has been labelled as authoritarian-style overreach by Labor and the Greens.
During Senate estimates, Immigration Secretary Mike Pezzullo confirmed even a goldfish was defined as a pet.
"I think any living sentiment, irrespective of whether it's fish, fowl or other type of animal, that's considered to be a pet — consistent with the ordinances of the local municipality — would fall within the definition," he said.

21 Oct 2017

Cat and dog crackdown: Asylum seekers now need the government's permission to buy a pet

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Thousands of asylum seekers in Australia will now require permission from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's(police) department if they want to get a pet.

So now their children may be unable to own a doggy, come on this is a joke isn't it?

Leaked guidelines issued by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection reveal all asylum seekers receiving taxpayer support must obtain the department's approval before buying a household animal.
Eddie the rescue dog can't be owned by boat people?

The edict applies to thousands of people currently in Australia awaiting the outcome of their bids for protection, including the 7500 who lodged their claims following the government's imposition of an October 1 deadline.

"Recipients may own a pet if permission is granted by both the department and the landlord," asylum seekers have been told.

"Approval for pet ownership must be sought from both the department and the landlord before a pet is purchased. Recipients may be required to provide evidence to demonstrate that they can cover the costs involved in pet ownership."
Kittens are put up for adoption every week,
but asylum seekers would need to meet strict
requirements to adopt one. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Advocates at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre were scathing of the move. Jana Favero, the organisation's director of advocacy, said it was "another terrifying display of arbitrary powers to decide the rights of people seeking asylum", and a waste of the department's time.

"When someone told us about it, I actually didn't believe it. We thought 'this is so ridiculous, the department wouldn't go that far'," Ms Favero told Fairfax Media. ​"I have no idea what would have motivated this ... I can't even guess what they'll do next."

19 Oct 2017

Government Banking Accountability is no Grizzly its just a teddy bear with no teeth.

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By The Invisible Hand

The government’s new Banking Executive Accountability Regime (BEAR) legislation is a confused mess that is not going to do what it claims to do, which is make bankers accountable for scandals.

Rather than being a terrifying polar or grizzly, it is already an old teddy bear that has had the stuffing knocked out of it.

Earlier this year when announcing the budget, the Treasurer was out in front, leading the mob to the very gates of the big banks, threatening to take bank executives out and (at least figuratively) roast them.

“These measures will mean executives will be more accountable, will be subject to greater scrutiny and there will be increased consequences for when executives and banks do not meet expectations.”

Unfortunately, in reality the legislation is a damp squib.

12 Oct 2017

Gas is just hot air supplied by producers to push up prices. There is no gas shortage in Australia!

John Barilaro, The Daily Telegraph

As you read this, hundreds of thousands of gigajoules of gas is being sucked from the Bass Straight and Gippsland gas fields in Victoria, through a network of pipelines up to Gladstone in Queensland, where it is liquefied and then sent to Asia.

In one year, the amount of gas exported to Asian countries is enough to power NSW for nearly 10 years.

The small group of gas companies exporting this gas are the same group of gas companies that would have you ­believe there is an urgent shortage of gas on Australia’s east coast.

These same gas companies are using this engineered gas crisis to justify levying huge price increases on NSW families and businesses while offering lower prices to their customers in Asia — for the same gas

7 Oct 2017

Will Nick save South Australia from a premature ejaculation?

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Nick's about pour cold water into South Australian politics and he's not worried about the mud.

Will Nick save South Australia from a premature ejaculation by injecting himself into into the veins of State politics or will he just become a painful kidney stone in a smaller organ than the one he's leaving.

His past history of being an irritating stone that only managed to go away when it was treated with some form of largess does not encourage us to believe that, that remedy will work in a State parliament.

The real world is in this tier of government and Nick will be blamed personally for his decisions, unlike the Big house on the hill where he was on the fringe as a deal maker.

Nick Xenophon holds a sign with election poster on pole behind him.

His measured opinions and openness will be missed when he leaves the Big house on the hill. I believe he tried to do the right thing even though I didn't agree with many of his decisions.
I think he tried to keep the bastards honest.
I wish him good luck in his chosen bear pit.

5 Oct 2017

Lack of refinement? No not in leadership, its about oil, stupid. Australia is living dangerously!

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Lack of refinement.

Its hard to believe that our government has allowed our refining capacity dwindle to this stage. Their blind belief that market forces can fix everything is to blame. 

Refinery closures coupled with growing demand for petroleum have increased Australia’s dependency on imported refined petroleum products.

The result, oil-dependent sectors such as transport, mining and agriculture are vulnerable to supply-chain interruptions or future oil-price spikes.

The situation is made worse by the fact that Australia is consistently the only International Energy Agency (IEA) member state that fails to maintain the mandated stockpile of 90 days’ worth of net oil imports.

Australia’s stockpiles stood at 57 days as of November 2013. The NRMA report estimates Australia’s in-country stockpile, which excludes shipments en route to Australia, at only 23 days.

With growing demand for liquid fuels and a continued “hands-off” approach from government, by 2030 Australia is on track to find itself with no refining capacity, less than 20 days’ worth of liquid fuel stocks, and entirely at the mercy of the international oil market.

3 Oct 2017

America is sick.God is still a gun apparently even after this the deadliest shooting. They believe in their own myths, like billy the Kid who was just a thief.

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Americans still believe they need a gun because they might have to have a shootout at noon in Dodge City.

How can the smartest country be so bloody stupid.

Share prices of gun makers have risen sharply on the US stock market in the wake of the deadliest shooting in the country’s modern history.

The market was responding to a surge in demand for weapons after the Las Vegas massacre, which saw a gunman open fire at a music festival killing at least 59 people and wounding 527 more.

Shares of Sturm Ruger – the company which makes Ruger firearms - jumped four percent in afternoon trade, CNN reports.

Weapons maker American Outdoor Brands Corp, the company formerly known as Smith & Wesson, jumped three percent and Olin, which owns Winchester ammunition, rose six percent to an all-time high.

2 Oct 2017

Fact check: No link between same-sex marriage and Safe Schools

There is no link between same-sex marriage and Safe Schools

Let’s cover the basic points first:
  • the federal Marriage Act and the Australian Curriculum are not related and never will be related to each other. Any change to one does not have any effect on the other
  • the postal survey currently being conducted asking whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry has no relation to teacher professional development and learning resources made available to schools.
  • whether or not same-sex marriage is legalised in Australia also has no relation to teacher professional development and learning resources made available to schools.
  • it is up to each school and teachers together with the parents to determine if they want to use the program or any part of the program .

1 Oct 2017

Australia: Achaeologists have discovered a marvellous live specimen of archaic thinking.

The fact that this specimen is still talking has amazed scientists.
Image result for eric abetz

Marvelling at how well preserved the archaic opinions are, a team of archaeologists on Thursday announced the discovery of a fully intact 17th-century belief system in Senator Eric Abetz .

“It’s just extraordinary to come across a perspective that dates back to the the mid-1600s and shows absolutely no signs of decay,” said an expert, explaining that while it’s not uncommon to encounter partial remains of convictions from that era, it’s exceedingly rare to recover a specimen this pristine.

“All the 400-year-old viewpoints remain almost completely untouched, from religion’s place in society to the rights of women to the attitude toward science. I can only imagine the insights this single sample will provide as to how people who lived centuries ago saw the world around them.

The expert added, however, that the Senator’s belief system was fragile even in near-perfect condition and could deteriorate rapidly if examined too much.

This article is based on similar article in the ONION, only the name has changed to protect the innocent.

Spanish reaction to Catalan referendum is over the top. It is jailing people for voting? Are they mad!

Catalan referendum: Is this dog to be jailed.

A dog in a flag cape
High there! Now I'm a dog and these days being a Catalan dog is dangerous depending on which shirt I'm wearing.

My life used to be simple, bones, trees  and play now I've got to be careful of colours.

I could be arrested if I try and vote, its a disgrace, most of you humans know I'm cleverer than most politicians in Spain.

And I know I am! WOOF,WOOF!

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When is a balloon a balloon. When its not Chinese!