Wednesday 31 August 2011

Australian High Court: Federal Government has "no power" to remove asylum seekers to Malaysia [excerpts & link to full transcript]

On 25 July 2011 the Gillard Government announced an agreement with Malaysia to transfer asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia waters to Malaysian territory, after the agreement was legally in effect. This decision was challenged by application to the High Court of Australia.

Here are excerpts from Plaintiff M70/2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship; Plaintiff M106 of 2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship [2011] HCA 32 (31 August 2011).  



68.         The ministerial declaration of 25 July 2011 was affected by jurisdictional error. It was not a declaration authorised by s 198A of the Migration Act. The plaintiffs cannot therefore be taken to Malaysia pursuant to the power conferred by s 198A(1). Nor is it open to any officer of the Commonwealth to remove the plaintiffs to Malaysia pursuant to s 198(2) of the Migration Act without first assessing their claims to be persons to whom Australia owes protection obligations.
69.         In relation to M106, I agree for the reasons explained in the joint judgment[72] that he cannot be removed from Australia without the prior consent in writing of the Minister under the IGOC Act. I agree with the orders proposed in the joint judgment.


Conclusion and orders

148.      For the reasons that have been given, the Minister's declaration that Malaysia is a specified country for the purposes of s 198A of the Act was made without power. There should be a declaration to that effect. The Minister may not lawfully take either plaintiff from Australia to Malaysia and the Minister should be restrained accordingly. In addition, in the case of the second plaintiff, the Minister should be further restrained from taking the second plaintiff from Australia without there being a consent in writing of the Minister given under s 6A(1) of the IGOC Act. The defendants should pay the plaintiffs' costs of the proceedings to date before Hayne J and the Full Court.


Conclusion and orders

258.      There was no power to make the declaration of 25 July 2011. Because the declaration is invalid, there is no power to remove the plaintiffs to Malaysia. Any attempt to do so would be unlawful. In the case of Plaintiff M106, his removal from Australia to any country is also unlawful absent the consent of the Minister in his capacity as guardian of Plaintiff M106.
259.      I agree with the orders proposed in the joint judgment.



199.       It is not necessary to deal with an alternative argument advanced by the defendants which relied on s 198 of the Act.
200.      Each Amended Application should be dismissed with costs.

Full judgment transcript here.
Judgement summary here.

* This post was emended for name error and dissenting judgment included

Illness became muse for Poet Lorikeet (sourced from smh, 30/8/11)

 See the complete obituary, written by Geoff Helisma here.

Robert Briseno and Kelly McFadden take on ConAgra Foods Inc over deceptive GMO food labelling

According to the Food Court blog:

two separate class-action suits (McFadden et al v. ConAgra Foods Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, no. 11-3186; Briseno et al v. ConAgra Foods Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, no. 11-5379) seek millions of dollars in refunds on behalf of recent purchasers the Wesson oil line — including canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil and a blend — as well as a court order prohibiting Con-Agra from making its all-natural claim on Wesson oils.

An application to merge Briseno et al with McFadden et al appears to have been lodged on 16 August 2011.

Robert Briseno et al versus ConAgra Foods Inc [2011]

Ooopps! Google bombs again

Tuesday 30 August 2011

The sweet sound of silence as Bolt gunned down

I don't think it is too long a bow to draw between Andrew Bolt eschewing political comment today.....

and this yesterday.........

The Australian - 16 hours ago
THE real import of the alleged brothel creeping scandal surrounding Craig Thomson has been missed. And it is this: key factions and unions within the Labor ...

Milne appears to have drawn on a Bolt blog for some of his 'ínformation'.

North Coast Voices Petering Time  predicted  a rocky road for Bolt in a 25 August post and it seems he was correct.

2011 may well be the year in which this so-called journalist is finally stripped of his Teflon ® coating.


The disappointment is profound - Bolt promises to be back tomorrow ;-)

Afrer discussions, I now feel free to speak my mind. So I shall. In tomorrow’s column. I apologise for the mysteriousness, but I did not want to act in anger or before matters had been resolved. I had to be fair to my employer and to my readers, and I apologise if you think I’ve had the balance wrong over the past 24 hours.
Thank you to everyone who has rung, emailed or commented on this post, here and on radio.

All bow down before The Great God TAbbott

When you recover from the desire to shout aloud with laughter, reflect on the overweening conceit contained in this error laden sentence delivered to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia by the current Federal Opposition Leader:

As health minister, I strengthened the cost-effectiveness tests that helped to drive increased life expectancy of more than two years over the course of the government’s term.

Oh, if only longevity was that simple!

Here is the Australian Bureau of Statistics view of life expectancy:

Since the late 1800s, life expectancy for Australian boys and girls has increased by over 30 years. During 1881-1890, the average life expectancy of a newborn boy was 47.2 years and that of a newborn girl 50.8 years. By 2007-2009, average life expectancy had risen to 79.3 years for newborn boys and 83.9 years for newborn girls.
Over the past 125 years there have been changes in what Australians have died of, and the age at which they have died. Up until 1932, infectious and parasitic diseases caused at least 10% of all deaths each year, with death rates from these diseases highest among the very young and very old. Improvements in living conditions in the early 20th century, such as better water supplies, sewerage systems, food quality and health education, led to overall lower death rates and longer life expectancy at all ages.
During the 20th century, degenerative diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer replaced infectious and parasitic diseases as the main cause of death of older people.  Not only had infection control measures improved in medical facilities, but public awareness of the value of preventative actions such as hand washing had grown. Increases in life expectancy at all ages in the second half of the 20th century have been attributed to improving social conditions and advances in medical technology such as mass immunisation and antibiotics.
The past two decades have seen further increases in life expectancy. These increases have been partly due to lower infant mortality, fewer young people dying in motor vehicle accidents, and fewer older men dying from heart disease. The reduction in deaths from heart disease has been linked to medical advances and behavioural changes such as improvements in diet and less smoking.

As one can see, with or without The Great God TAbbott, Australian life expectancy at birth has been steadily rising for the last two hundred years.

The entire Abbott address is here.

Two guinea pigs walk into a Queensland bar and create polling heaven

Logging onto The Internetz to see how Oz pollie polling is going this morning? That’s so old school!

Monday 29 August 2011

Hartsuyker attempts to deceive Parliament

This is the Nationals Federal MP for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, according to his own media release on 25 August  2011:

Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker tonight (Thursday) has told the Federal Member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott that it’s not too late for him to change his position on the carbon tax and start reflecting the views of his electorate.
During a speech in the House of Representatives, Mr Hartsuyker said a poll which appeared in the local newspaper – the Port Paper - confirmed Mr Oakeshott was ignoring the views of his electorate. “We come to this place to represent our electorates. We come to reflect the hopes and aspirations of the people from our communities, and a member of this House occupies their seat at the pleasure of the voters in their electorate,” Mr Hartsuyker told the Parliament.
“A member who acts contrary to the wishes of their electorate will ultimately be judged at the ballot box. Today's headline in the Port Paper, 'Oakeshott support plummets', says it all. We see in today's paper a reflection of what everybody on the North Coast knows. The people of Lyne know that they have been abandoned by their local member. The people of Lyne know—and I will use their words—that they have been betrayed. The people of Lyne know that they have a representative in this House voting against their interests.

As Clarrie Rivers posted last week, the Port Paper appears to be a front for the Nationals.

When Hartsuyker rose to his feet in the House of Representatives and told Parliament The people of Lyne know—and I will use their words—that they have been betrayed he was knowingly directly quoting a Port Paper article written by the editor who is a National Party member and former staffer of three Nationals MPs (including Hartsuyker until May this year).

An article Port Paper displays online at a domain address registered by yet another Nationals staffer.

Hartsuyker would have also known that the survey commissioned by Port Paper and conducted across the Federal electorate of Lyne on Tuesday night (23rd August) used fully automated voice broadcast to contact the 448 respondents. Even right-wing journalist Andrew Bolt hedges his bets on this polling technology.

One has to wonder why Hartsuyker has such little regard for the Australian Parliament that he would attempt to deceive it in this manner.

Teh Rabbit continues to demonstrate an inability to place matters in the proper historical context

The Whitlam Government was dismissed in 1975. Gough Whitlam himself retired in 1978. The Greens did not get elected to the Australian Federal Parliament until 1993. Bob Brown first entered the Tasmanian House of Assembly for Denison in 1983 and later the Senate in 1996.
Yet Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott commits this impossible historical comparison in August 2011:

Sunday 28 August 2011

What is a whale worth to Australian coastal communities?

Humpback Whale off Sydney, Australia, in 2011

Government of Japan subsidised whale hunting in the Antarctic runs at a loss and has done so for years. Even after meat collected on this allegedly scientific hunt is sold on to Japanese retailers for an estimated 6 billion yen ($64.5 million) a year, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on January 23 2010 .

Australian coastal communities have been watching the annual whale migration since people first began to collect on the shoreline. Over the last twenty years this whale migration has begun to play a significant part in many local economies.

What’s a whale worth to Hervey Bay?

Data collected by O'Connor et al (2009) valued direct ticket revenues from whale watching in Hervey Bay at $5.9 million in 20081.
Indirect expenditure associated with whale watching was estimated at $7.0 million, giving a total of $12.9 million.
From these figures and the above population estimates, we calculated present value per whale of AUD $97,000.

What’s a whale worth to Warrnambool?

Data collected by O'Connor et al (2009) found that total expenditure by whale watching tourists was $2.6 million in 20082.
From this total revenue figure and the local population we estimated the following on average present value per whale of AUD $1,259,000.
This value is significantly larger than the values in Hervey Bay and Broome because revenue from whale watching in Warrnambool is high and the population is very small by comparison to the other two regions.

What’s a whale worth to Broome?

O'Connor et al (2009) found direct ticket revenues from whale watching around Broome were $169,000 in 2008.
Indirect expenditure associated with whale watching was estimated at $244,000 giving a total of $413,0003.
From these figures and the above population estimates, we estimated average present value per whale at AUD $32,000.

Pollies living in glass houses begin to hear the sound of smashing glass

When Aussie pollies on The Speaker's left get all holier than thou, this is what sometimes happens.......................

In The Canberra Times last Wednesday:

“The Canberra Liberals were producing invitations to a $950-a-head party fundraiser when they were caught misusing public printing resources last month.
And The Canberra Times can reveal that the breach of parliamentary code of conduct only came to light after one of the flyers advertising the exclusive event was left on a photocopier.
Liberals' Leader Zed Seselja, who apologised last week to the Assembly over the incident, repeated yesterday that the breach had been an honest mistake by a junior staff member who had just begun working at the Assembly.
The flyer that was being produced was an invitation from Mr Seselja to the party faithful to ''an exclusive and intimate'' dinner with NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Chris Hartcher.
Supporters could choose to donate $550, $750 or $950 to attend the event at the up-market Boat House restaurant on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin on July 21.
Under political donations rules, payments to political parties of less than $1000 do not have to be disclosed to authorities.
Last month the Liberal Party paid back $10,000 it had claimed from a government fund set up to help volunteer groups look after the city's poor and needy through the global financial crisis.
In the wake of the latest incident, the Speaker of the Assembly Shane Rattenbury was forced to issue a warning to 11 non-executive Assembly members last week reminding them of their obligations concerning the use of public funds.”

Saturday 27 August 2011

Update on the National Party's very friendly Port Macquarie newspaper

Comments flowing from National Party sources about the independence of  The Port Paper don't stack up.
Although the paper parades with the banner "Your 100% locally owned and totally independent newspaper" some very elementary investigations reveal that the paper's website is owned and administered by Rob Nardella, who (like the paper's editor Sharon Davidson) has serious form in The Nationals' camp.

 Nardella, a former councillor on Port Macquarie Council, is now a policy adviser for NSW Nationals leader Andrew Stoner. 

The information Nardella provided when setting up the domain reveals he's not real strong in Australian geography. He located Port Macquarie in the Australian Capital Territory!

PS Stoner has a few problems of his own on his plate. Stoner had a prominent member of the local branch of the National Party fast-track his solar bonus scheme application. Read a report in today's edition of a Sydney newspaper about that scandal here.

Liar, liar?

“Thanks for all the support. I believe what happened today is completely unfair .. And I am seeking advice on the matter” tweets CamPriceBris after being sacked for lying about where he was reporting from during ‘live’ television coverage.
I would’ve thought that Queensland Uni would have taught him that indulging in fakery to ginger up the nightly news is just not on.
It's all about E*T*H*I*C*S, Cam.

Pic from The Age story
News footage video here.

Friday 26 August 2011

How could anyone believe anything that appears in this cellar-dwelling rag

Thanks, ABC North Coast Radio, for alerting listeners to a very bodgy newspaper that had a free, below the belt, shot at Rob Oakeshott, the independent member for Lyne.

The piece in the rag was written by its editor Sharon Davidson.

Davidson has extensive form in The Nationals' camp. She spent a bit of time at a desk at a Grafton local newspaper, but she's spent a lot more time in the company of  North Coast National MPs.
Davidson's CV lists, among others,

1. Former MP for Page Ian (Bull) Causley

2. The do-nothing MP for Clarence, Steve (One-Too-Many-Trips-to-the-Boxing-Ring) Cansdell, who said  Davidson was one of his "gals" in his inaugural speech , and

3. Luke (Tilting at Windmills) Hartsuyker

Another local voice on the big stage

Wooli's Don Firth, who's a frequent contributor to the letters pages of The Daily Examiner and The Sydney Morning Herald, has been part of the ongoing shots at QANTAS in the Herald this week.

Qantas flying low

Michele Zehnder (Letters, August 21) is quite right: Qantas should lose the right to adorn the tails of its planes with that wonderful stylised kangaroo. It should, instead, be given to Ausflag, the group looking to secure support for a truly Australian flag, so it can produce a flag to match Canada's in the instantly recognisable stakes.
Don Firth Wooli

 SMH Letters, August 25, 2011

The flying prawn? It could take off

I really like Don Firth's suggestion (Letters, August 24) that the wonderful stylised kangaroo from Qantas be given to Ausflag. It could then be flown above all government buildings and internationally, and would represent all things good. For instance, the downsizing of the Australian international fleet and also the utilising of offshore resources to save shareholder investments, a clear representation of our broken economic motor that is creating holes in our national fuselage.
Michael Cronk Dubbo

OMG! Does this mean that Alan Jones is Prime Minister?

One of those amazing wingnutters over at Just Grounds this week seems on the brink of declaring that The Parrot is the new Oz prime minister:
Talkback Radio…..the defacto peoples parliament.
While another has a very peculiar idea of how the reserve powers of a governor-general operate:

Ian Strawbridge said:
I think we need to get the GG to action! Lets all write / fax to her demanding she sack Juliar! Allegedly she still has 'the power' ! (Yes, I know how she was appointed)
Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC
Government House, Canberra ACT 2600.
fax: 02 6281 3760
Cheers, Ian

Thursday 25 August 2011

Memo to Clarence Valley Review: don't publish advertisements and pretend they're news items

This week's Lower Clarence Review provides yet another example that it doesn't know the difference between news items and advertisements.
What it's doing is publishing advertisements and trying to pass them off as news.
Shame! Shame! Shame!
Here's a snap of part of this week's page 5, but there's no mention that it's an advertisement!

Students studying juxtaposition 101 will readily see the classic irony of the piece appearing immediately below the above item.

Flying fox dispersal is the wrong way to go - NSW O'Farrell Government increases Hendra risk

We have to wonder about our best and brightest. By that I mean our politicians. This week the Minister for the Environment, Ms Robyn Parker, announced that the Office of the Environment had approved the Department of Education and Communities’ (DEC) application to disperse flying-foxes in Maclean. Ms Parker said she had asked the Office of Environment and Heritage to expedite the assessment of the permit, following representations from the local Member for Clarence, Mr Steve Cansdell.

With an outbreak of Hendra virus just up the road at South Ballina, and scientists saying stress in flying-foxes can increase the virus, our best and brightest are proposing to stress these animals. What are they thinking?

A study found that in times of nutritional stress (food shortages) the prevalence of disease in flying foxes increases. Dispersal is a slightly different type of stress but we do know that it's very stressful to flying foxes. The Qld government has also warned, dispersals could increase Hendra virus loads in flying-foxes and increase the risk of spillover into horses.

Despite this knowledge our pollies are keen to pursue this because they claim they want to reduce the “ impact on the amenity of students and teachers at the school”.  But what about the rest of the community? Isn’t there a plan for them?

And this is where it gets really silly. The bureaucrats have just spent two years working on a plan for the whole community. Seems the Minister and the MP don’t know about that.

Northern Rivers

* GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT for consideration.

Andrew shoots his bolt

Andrew Bolt produces a WTF moment over at The Telegraph:
“Meanwhile, the Greens confirm they are indeed the new haven of the fashionable anti-Semite”
Apparently carrying on in a similar vein, the televised Bolt Report is now receiving some flak.
It doesn't take a crystal ball to foretell more court time for Teh Bolta if he keeps on like this.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

John Xavier Berlin jailed for fraud - history of child sex-offences revealed in court

THERE is no way John Xavier Berlin could have been a police officer, after being convicted of child-sex offences and spending two years in a Queensland jail.
That was the conclusion drawn by magistrate David Heilpern when he sentenced Berlin to 12 months behind bars at Grafton local court yesterday.
“Mr Berlin, you have never been a police officer,” he said.
“That is the source of all these problems.” Source: The Daily Examiner, 24/8/11

Today's Examiner gives Berlin much more attention than he'd ever like. Berlin is front-page material, gets more coverage on page 5 and is also the subject of an opinion piece written by the paper's chief-of-staff. Topping things off is a front page photograph of Berlin.

Sick and tired of the NSW Government continuing to drag its feet when it comes to the northern section of the Pacific Highway?

If the answer is yes then Federal Labor MP for Page Janelle Saffin has an online Pacific Highway Community Petition which anyone can sign at :

TO THE Premier of New South Wales, The Honourable Barry O’Farrell MP; the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, The Honourable Andrew Stoner MP; and the NSW Minister for Roads, The Honourable Duncan Gay MP.
This Petition of residents of the Federal electorates of Page and Richmond draws to the attention of the O’Farrell-Stoner Government its pre-election commitments to making the Pacific Highway safer for all motorists.
The Petitioners therefore request that the NSW Government allocates significant funding in its first Budget on September 6, 2011, to ensure that the highway can be fully duplicated by the 2016 deadline, as agreed.

It is important not to let the issue of the Pacific Highway upgrade slip on to any Macquarie Street backburner, as this exchange in Federal Parliament last Tuesday demonstrates:

ROB OAKESHOTT (Member for Lyne) My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. As the minister responsible on behalf of the Commonwealth and following ongoing negotiations with the state of New South Wales, can you confirm that election promises from both levels of government and both political persuasions will be upheld—that is, the joint promise of completion of dual carriageway of the Pacific Highway by 2016, just five years away?

ANTHONY ALBANESEI thank the member for Lyne for his question and for his commitment to representing constituents on the Pacific Highway up the NSW coast. He would be aware that we have committed some $4.1 billion to the Pacific Highway, more than any government has ever committed to any road in Australia's history over such a period of time.

The fact is that work is proceeding apace.  The Ballina bypass will be open early.  It will be open by Christmas, six months ahead of schedule and on budget.  Work has also commenced on the longest bridge ever constructed in Australia, which is a part of the Kempsey bypass.  The builders for the Devils Pulpit upgrade have been selected and work will commence by the end of the year.

The building contract for Tintenbar to Ewingsdale in the electorate of Page was also awarded in the last fortnight. Work is forging ahead on the Bulahdelah bypass, the Banora Point upgrade and the Sapphire to Woolgoolga duplication.

All up, today there are more than a thousand Australians at work upgrading the Pacific Highway.  Our last budget saw an additional billion dollars injected into the Pacific Highway so we could meet that objective.  I was there with the member for Lyne and the member for Page [Janelle Saffin] with the Deputy Premier of NSW [Andrew Stoner], following our commitment announcement in May, and I was encouraged by the very direct commitment that the Deputy Premier gave on behalf of the NSW government to meet our shared objective on the full duplication of the highway.

There is no doubt this is a big challenge.  All of the planning work had not been completed, which is why we needed to put that extra funding into the budget.  I look forward to the NSW government on 6 September stumping up its share of the money in the $750 million that it has committed.

“My first target and task is to fulfil that commitment in this year’s budget … unless we can keep with them—the federal government—we are falling out of the game.”

This is a vital upgrade.  That is why we have contributed $4.1 billion, which stands in stark contrast to the $1.3 billion committed over 12 long years by the former government.  We have committed more than triple the money in half the time because we are absolutely committed to delivering on this project.

I look forward to working with the NSW government to meet our shared objective.

NB. Thanks to the North Coast Voices reader who sent me the Oakeshott-Albanese remarks.

Are the wheels falling off Tony's little red fear truck?

Federal Opposition Tony Abbott is a becoming a classic example of how to cast aside political momentum.
After managing to dominate the Australian news cycle for months on end, he then decides to take a short holiday overseas.
Just in time to be out of camera and microphone range when America's credit rating is downgraded, European sovereign debt becomes an even bigger global issue than before and international stock markets panic.
Big mistake.
Not only did the Australian media largely forget to play his favourite fear cards to the max; journalists also forgot to be hypercritical of the Labor Government's economic record and is some cases actually talked up the nation's balance sheet.
Then Tones arrives back in the country without anything novel to say and the news cycle all but ignores him for days.
Even usually gullible butchers began to reject his stunts.
Help seemed to be at hand when the Convoy of No Confidence drove onto the scene, but alas, this wasn't to be the Opposition Leader's life line.
Shaping up as it did to be an expensive embarrassment ACT taxpayers have to fork out for.

Not only did truck, ute, car and trailer numbers arriving in Canberra fall far short of the mooted mob supposedly calling for Gillard's blood and Tony's sainthood - some of the state convoys were nothing more than a handful of vehicles driven by people with a mistaken idea of the Australian constitution, no common complaints or coherent political agenda.
Indeed the first 'wave' of trucks due to hit Canberra early on Monday 22nd August failed to materialise due to lack of interest, the grand trek route map (above) proudly drawn by those faceless convoy organisers was shown to be just so much political mythology and the Canberra rally figures fell far, far short of the previous week's hyped 10,000 angry voters.
The turnout must have left Abbott and the rest of the 11am rally speakers, Barnaby Joyce, Warren Truss and Bazza Haase sorely disappointed - as well as totally confusing the climate change denialists contrarians, conspiracy theorists and one egotistic demagogue scheduled to share the podium.
After all, they thought they were the vanguard of a grassroots movement.
Even Tones practiced spin couldn't disguise the non-event:

"Now, ladies and gentlemen, there are hundreds of you here, there are thousands of you who would like to be here and there are millions of you who are sick of being ripped off by a bad government."
Haven't laughed so hard in years.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Britain 'terrorized by an underclass'. One of Her Majesty's subjects shows yet another ugly side of the United Kingdom

Britain is a riot - 3 Translation(s) | dotSUB

Pat Condell  in full flight, advocating the withdrawal of human rights from convicted rioters.
Is this man a distant relative of Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt?

Google Profile causing sh#t to happen?

Google Profile tells us to “Decide what the world sees when it searches for you. Create a public profile to display the information that you care about and make it easy for visitors to get to know you.”
Sounds fair, doesn’t it?
But what happens when you have the same name as someone else or someone hijacks your online identity?
Well this happens……
Snapshot taken of a page one Google Search on 18th August 2011
Snapshot of a 6th April 2011 cease and desist request on Chilling Effects

Monday 22 August 2011

For all those contrarians out there: a word on rising sea levels in Australian waters

From the Australian Climate Commission’s May 2011 report THE CRITICAL DECADE Climate science, risks and responses:

Global average values of sea-level rise mask large regional differences.
For example, around Australia (Figure 8) recent sea level rise (from the early 1990s to 2008) has been below the global average along the east coast, near the global average along the much of the southern coast, but at least double the global average along much of the northern coastline.
Such regional differences are important in assessing the risks posed by sea-level rise at particular locations…….

The observed sea-level rise of about 20 cm from 1880 to 2000 should already have led to an increase in the incidence of extreme sea-level events. Such increases have indeed been observed at places with very long records, such as Fremantle and Fort Denison, where a 3-fold increase in inundation events has occurred (Church et al. 2006).  

Download report here.

First Dog nails the facts

Click on cartoon to enlarge
More of First Dog on the Moon here and here 

Sunday 21 August 2011

A carbon pricing he said, she said. Part Two

An exchange in the Clarence Valley Review letters column on 10 and 17 August 2011:

I thought your readers may be interested in a letter I sent to Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin in response to her recent circular letter sent to her electorate.
Dear Ms Saffin
I thank you for your letter of 29 July 2011. I note in particular your advice that the tax on the emission of carbon dioxide gas is to be paid by “our biggest polluters – not ordinary Australians”. Please correct me if I am wrong. I understand that the tax is to be related to the consumption of electricity produced from burning inputs which emit carbon dioxide in the process of generating electricity. The amount of the tax will be based upon the calculated carbon dioxide emissions.
You indicate that only the biggest polluters will be  paying. Much has been said in the press that it is the “500 biggest polluters” who will be paying.
Would you please identify who these 500 biggest polluters are? I would like to know the names of the corporations involved.
One of the difficulties I have is understanding what is a “polluter” and whether that is something that is different from someone who uses electricity.
Can you assist in clarifying the definition of a “polluter”.
It has also been part of the promotion of this tax that it will be replaced with an emissions trading scheme in three or four years time. The emissions trading scheme has not been explained.
However, other questions do arise. Does your government totally rule out the prospect that this tax will be extended beyond the current group of 500 to include other entities? Is that something your government will rule out categorically, absolutely and forever or is it something that your government wishes to keep open in terms of its options?
Once a carbon trading scheme is introduced to whom will that be applied and how will that impact
upon business entities beyond the 500 “biggest polluters”?
Has any modelling been done on how a carbon emission scheme will work and the impact it will have upon:
1. The 500 “biggest polluters”? ;
2. The 1,000 “biggest polluters”? ;
3. Small business generally;
4. Households?
If that modelling has been done, what are the results of that modelling?
We are being asked to endorse your government’s policy on the introduction of a carbon tax on the 500 biggest polluters, but at this stage you have not told us:
Who are these corporations?
What plans you have to extend the imposition of the tax, and in what time frame?
The implications of the proposed carbon trading scheme intended to replace the tax?
In your letter, you emphasize the evil of the biggest polluters by stating “No longer will the nation’s biggest polluters be able to pollute without consequence”.
Logically, if it is a good idea to tax the 500 largest polluters, it must also be a good idea to tax the next 500 and the next 500 after that. If the eradication of some pollution is a good idea, then the eradication of all pollution must be a good idea.
However, it seems that on the basis of the Federal Government policy, only the eradication of some of the carbon dioxide emission is a good idea and the positioning of the government policy has not been explained. Why 500 and not the original 1,000? Is there an implicit recognition that the imposition of the tax will have negative impacts for the Australian economy and Australia households which your government is seeking to mitigate by reducing the number of businesses subject to the tax? You have not explained this aspect of your policy.
I look forward to your early reply.

Peter James

Peter James of Grafton [CVR, Letters, 8 August 2011] complains that there are a number of unanswered questions regarding the Gillard Government’s  intention to place a price on carbon and certain other greenhouse gases.
I read his missive with amazement, because answers to every single question he asked is readily available on federal government websites such as, and
Starting with a proper definition of the carbon pricing mechanism, how ‘pollution’ is calculated, how long the levy will be in place, projected price rises over the life of the levy and what reportable greenhouse gas levels a corporation has to emit to finds itself included in the list of polluters to which the levy will apply - right through to Australian Treasury economic modelling, the full text of relevant draft legislation which will go before Parliament in 2011-12 and a broad outline of the foreshadowed emissions trading scheme.
All of this information is freely available at the click of  a mouse when people use either their own PCs or Internet access computers at certain council community centres and local libraries.
In all likelihood accessing appropriate government websites will take less time than Mr. James took to write his letter. Of course one has to want to hear the answers in the first place.

Judith M. Melville