Carbon Price Countdown: Moving an economy

This post was first published on my personal blog and is part of a series of posts about reasons for why I support the Clean Energy Future package negotiated by the Greens, independents and ALP; read the first post and second post in the series.

The price on pollution is an important step forward. One of the ways it is an important step forward is how it will help move our economy to a lower polluting economy. It’s already happening in other countries with economies that are far larger than ours, and ones that aren’t nearly as stable or ‘robust’ as ours.

Yet the howls of  how the economy will be ruined have recently become louder.

The screams of economic terror are getting more blood curdling as major polluters and their political lap-dogs, the Coalition, become more frantic about the price on pollution.The major polluters know that the government’s Clean Energy Future package will mean a change to our economy.

The major polluters also know that the price on pollution, moving to an emissions trading scheme, will force them to change their corporate behaviours and will have to cut their emissions. However what is quite telling is that Coalition Members of Parliament continue to buy and trade shares in mining and energy companies. Indeed, various modeling done by some of the major polluters show that they will have to reduce their emissions to ensure continued access to a growing number of markets that are penalising imports with high emissions attached to those imports.

There already exists billions of dollars of investments in infrastructure in the mining and energy sectors.

But this is not about the existing investment in the ‘pipeline’, this is about the future investment in cleaner energy options and measures to reduce our total emissions. It’s also about  developing more sustainable means of producing and distributing energy; the power our first world economies need to continue, and help the third world develop futures to support their countries’ endeavours and aspirations.

Much misinformation has been spread about how jobs will go. Yet if our state governments stopped retreating from renewable energy investment and development the growth in jobs in renewable energy can grow. Investing in renewable energy and transforming our economy will grow jobs. It needs people to transform an economy.

We’ll still need electricians, construction workers, engineers, boiler makers, technicians and raft of other existing jobs to make it all work. There is still going to be a need to service the renewable energy systems and for people to work on more efficient and effective means of producing and distributing renewable energy. It also means that we have opportunities to transform our economy in other ways.

Ultimately though you only need to look at the softening rhetoric from business about the impact of the carbon price. Take today’s article “Carbon pricing spurs business on” in The Age; while it’s clear there are still some underlying concerns business is getting on with preparations for the carbon price and the eventual transition to an emissions trading scheme.

I support the carbon price to help shift from a high polluting economy to a low polluting economy.

I look forward to hearing your reasons for supporting the Clean Energy Future package. Leave your comments below.

#2 Turn back the boats

As our earlier topic now has over 400 comments, I thought to put up #2 knowing that this volume of comments is difficult for people with older computers, and also those who access the blog via mobile devices.

Latest commentary is from Jessica Irvine:

Australia’s refugee intake is not only small compared to its total migration intake, but also compared to the number of people who would like to seek asylum here. Australia received 54,396 offshore applications for humanitarian visas last year, meaning for every successful one, five others went unanswered.

Is it any surprise people get on boats? With such an undersupply of places relative to demand, a black market in people smuggling is the only natural result.

It seems distasteful, somehow, to apply an economic framework to a such a morally charged policy issue as asylum seekers. It is governments, after all, not markets, that decide the supply of migration places.

But people smugglers are a good example of the economic phenomenon of black markets. Black markets for products and services spring up where supply in legitimate markets is overly restricted. Just as alcohol prohibition in the US forced up the price of booze and fuelled criminal activity in the 1920s and ’30s, a shortage of humanitarian visas to Australia has encouraged people smuggling. People smugglers are today’s bootleggers, with tragic consequences.

The evidence shows, after all, that most people who arrive unlawfully by boat are eventually settled in Australia on protection visas – 83.3 per cent of the ”irregular maritime arrivals” in 2009-10, according to the latest figures from the Department of Immigration.

Carbon Price Countdown: It takes a first step

This post was first published on my personal blog and is part of a series of posts about why I support the Clean Energy Future package negotiated by the Greens, independents and the first post in the series.

One of the biggest reasons I support the Clean Energy Future package negotiated by the Greens, the independents and the ALP is that it is an important step forward. Everything to date had been nothing else but talk and conjecture. There had been plenty of statements about time running out. In fact ‘time is running out’ has been a favourite phrase for a few decades and was most recently uttered again during the Rio+20 conference.

However Australia is embarking on the first step, and it’s the first step that’s always the hardest, to taking action on climate change. It might seem like a bitter pill to some but personally I’m happy to see Australia’s largest polluters having a price put on their pollution. Sure some of these companies have immediately used the carbon price as an excuse to pass on the full cost of the price on them. But this was to be expected. No-one was denying it but that’s why the federal government has been rolling out compensation packages for Australians as energy prices rise.

It’s important to remember as Tony Abbott and Senator Brandis blame everything on the coming price on pollution that many energy companies are also passing on significant costs of their failure to properly maintain and upgrade their networks and infrastructure; among other reasons.

The price on pollution is not going to see the sky fall in.

I support the price on pollution and I’m more than happy to pay for my emissions footprint. There is so much more that needs to be done. And it certainly doesn’t help having four states of Australia actively working against our commitment to action on climate change.

The Clean Energy Future package is an important first step in the right direction.

I look forward to hearing your reasons for supporting the Clean Energy Future package. Leave your comments below.

Turn back the boats!

The overloaded boat before it capsized today. Photo: Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Note: Pome by Patriciawa of Polliepomes:

Tony Abbott knows he has authority
To give commands, to turn the tide of history.
He can ignore advice, needn’t wait for votes.
Of course he can turn back those boats!

He has a sacred pledge or covenant
With God. He knows that government
Is rightly his….or soon will be. It must.
His blood oath on that just needs our trust.

For non-believers like Julia Gillard
And godless men of the old Red Guard
Who claim a democratic right to rule
He rightly has contempt and ridicule.

Businessmen must now make plans ahead
Heeding what this visionary has said.
Ignore those laws about a carbon price!
He’s warned them once! He will not say it twice!

That climate crap’s all hypothetical.
Believing it is now heretical.
Pretending to he once himself risked hell
Till shriven of his lie by Cardinal Pell.

Knowing himself to be pure of soul,
And with a clear mandate from Newspoll,
He demands again an immediate election.
Gillard must obey, with appropriate genuflection.

As if King Canute’s direct descendant,
He condemns her and any Independent,
Or Liberal who dares defy his orders,
To exile on Nauru outside Australian borders.

Phil Coorey has now written:

Tensions flared over asylum seekers in the House of Representatives last night when an Opposition frontbencher, Greg Hunt, was calmed by a colleague after a bitter exchange with the cabinet secretary, Mark Dreyfus.

Mr Hunt was about to speak on the adjournment debate, which was supposed to be about the carbon tax, but was incensed at comments Mr Dreyfus made earlier in the day about the Coalition profiteering from the deaths of asylum seekers.

Interesting especially is that Opposition frontbencher Christopher Pyne said yesterday that “the government needed to resurrect temporary protection visas” and, in addition needed to consider “instructing maritime authorities to ”turn the boats back”. Pyne stated that this was a prerequisitve before the Coalition would sit down for talks.

Bernard Keane’s summary of events include:

There is no “impasse” here. There is simple bloodymindedness in the face of offers of compromise.

The Greens haven’t been much better. They’ve achieved a big policy win: their policy of onshore processing is the country’s de facto policy.

Bernard Keane concludes: But it depends on good faith from the Coalition. Of that, there is none to be had.

There are clearly two ways of addressing problems, but only one of these equates with arriving at any sort of solution. Any solution always involves a willingness to compromise, plus importantly a willingness to communicate.

Everything which Tony Abbott and his Opposition have done so far has involved closing down these two things: cooperation and communication.

She’s A Lady

There are many people I have a great deal of respect for, but only a select few that I can say I truly admire.

Amongst those few is Kristina Keneally.

On Saturday, I was dismayed to find an email in my inbox from Kristina announcing that she was leaving NSW Parliament. I’m sure every ALP member who received the email was just as shocked as I was.

Kristina Keneally is a woman of immense courage, and strong principles. She is the type of person who see’s what needs to be done, and does it, no matter what the cost to her own standing. As an electorate, Hefron could have had no finer for a member, as a Party, we were honored to have her as a leader, and as a state, we were privileged to have her as Premier.

Kristina took over the leadership of NSW Labor, and became the 42nd Premier of New South Wales when the Labor Party was at its lowest. It was the most poisoned of chalices, but it was one she accepted readily despite the hard work she knew was to come.

Kristina, although born in Las Vegas, grew up in Ohio. A gifted soccer player, she clearly learnt valuable lessons in those days about working as part of a team, because she held NSW Labor together at what was arguably the toughest times the party had ever seen.

Continue reading

We’re moving!

No, I’m not back yet, just here to make a brief announcement.

Café Whispers is moving to a new home in the not too distant future.  I’ll be saying goodbye to and saying hello to

Only the address will be changing, at the moment, as we move to bigger premises, ie, more data storage space.  There is a limit to the amount of data we can have in and it is fast being approached.  We may lose a few things along the way, such as the number of site visits and other stats but I’m hopeful these can all be retained.  It’s wait and see.

The new premises will come with a lot more extras, which I’ll add to the blog at a later date once I learn how to drive them. Not being the world’s greatest tech-head, this may take time. 😦

The new site will spring up as soon as my web hosts have transferred everything from the old address, but it won’t be just yet.  So don’t panic if one day you can’t find us – just trot along to  Make a note of that address; I look forward to seeing you there.

There is a possibility I’m going to explore which might mean that this old site can remain open as well, which could see it handed over to one or some of our regulars if they wish to maintain it.  If it is one or more of the current authors I will ensure that their posts remain with the site.  Leave a message on this thread if you’re interested.

Yes, it’s a bit of a dilemma for me.  There is no choice but to upgrade the site but all the same I’m very sad to have to let go of the old one.  But there’s no way I’d be able to look after both of them.  Whoever takes this site over will have to do so on their own back as I won’t have to time to be of any assistance.

This is all dependent, of course, on this site being able to remain open once the new site is up and running.  I’ll check that out with WordPress.

In the meantime, don’t panic.  We’re still here for the time being and you’ll get plenty of advance notice before the changeover.

Don’t Come Here By Sea!

We’ve heard your stories one and all.
Widow, orphan, soldier amputee,
And how you strive to reach landfall
Here beyond the Arafura Sea.

You know that if you come by boat
People smugglers charge a hefty fee;
No guarantee you’ll stay afloat
To journey’s end across the Timor Sea.

If Tony Abbott now held sway
He’d stop your boat. That’s his policy.
He’d turn you round, have you towed away,
Deaf to your cries, back to the cruel sea.

Plans to lessen your suffering
Are coming from the ALP,
Anxious to find a buffering
Between Oz and the surrounding sea.

It’s been proposed by PM Gillard,
Wherever your starting point may be,
Boarding leaky boats will be barred.
You may not risk your life at sea!

There could well be an orderly queue
For you to join, perhaps certainty
That at last we might welcome you.
Though for that, you’ll have to wait and see.

Be patient.  Understand you’re seeking refuge
In a land already sanctuary
To people whose anxiety is huge,
Girt as Australia is by sea.

Things here aren’t what they used to be
When we had endless plains to share
With those who came across the sea.
So forget all that, and – Come by air!

NOTES    Another dreadful boat tragedy, this time in Indonesian waters, but on a boat bound for these shores.   One grimly redeeming feature is that our search and rescue services have gone into action and saved as many souls as possible, bringing them here where they will be hospitalised if necessary and processed as speedily as possible.  More than one hundred people have perished, many more than were lost off  Christmas Island some eighteen months ago.   

As in December, 2010, there is much shocked speechifying by politicians and calls for bipartisan action to prevent another such disaster.  Already, we see Tony Abbott taking his stance.  Bipartisanship is not enough, it seems, we need an effective policy i.e. my policy!  Nauru!  But there is a breaking of Coalition ranks at last with Liberal Mal Washer pleading with his party leader to compromise on this one issue. At the same time, however,  we have Sarah Hanson Young re-affirming the Greens’ commitment to ‘onshore’ processing of asylum seekers.  She has made it clear they are not going to support the proposal for a regional off-shore processing centre being promoted by Rob Oakeshott.  His bill would allow offshore processing to occur under the Bali Process on People Smuggling, and by-pass the problem of Indonesia’s refusal to sign the UN Convention on Refugees.   In spite of the Greens’ intransigence, with initiatives like Oakeshott’s and the calls for action from progressive liberals like Mal Washer we are surely closer to compromise now than ever before.   Public protests in all capital cities calling for action have been been reported widely in the media.

Last year the UN Commissioner for Refugees was supportive of aspects of the government’s proposed Malaysian Solution and welcomed its efforts to reach a compromise with the Coalition, along with an increased intake of refugees from Malaysia.  Sadly in August a High Court ruling dashed hopes for that plan.   Apparently the government has not given up on its plans for a regional processing centre which will this time be High Court challenge proof.   Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s department has continued working with his other regional counterparts.   The framework is there for a regional arrangement to at least be trialled, whether it be that proposed by the government or by Rob Oakeshott is immaterial.   Arguing its pros and cons is no longer an option.  Preventing further tragedies at sea is the priority. 

I wrote this pome in May last year as a comment at The Political Sword in response to Ad Astra’s post about political sloganeering so skilfully used by the Opposition.  Tony Abbott’s “STOP THE BOATS” is the supreme example of that.   It was a day when PM Gillard’s agreement with Malaysia on boat people was all over the media, and looked like it was going to work.   But the public debate was heated and in places unpleasant.  Australia seemed hard hearted.   Perhaps now that will change and soon I’ll be able to write some less cynical verses.

Milestone: 500,000 Hits

Can it be just a little more than 2 years ago that I received an email from my great friend Miglo, asking if I would be interested in helping with a blog.

Migs advised me that he had decided to call the blog the same as his Facebook group; Café Whispers.  Migs had started this Facebook group..let me see, a little after September ’09.

There are no 2nd guesses as to who the first-ever comment belongs:

June 6, 2010 @ 9:27 am [Edit]

You can learn a lot about human nature from blog sites.

For myself, I’ll never forget the encouragement received from Migs to write my first post.  Migs, you know that I would never have done it without you.  In my mind’s eye I can still imagine that cheeky grin as he patiently told me, “Just do it”.

This blog is something quite unique, or at least I believe that if one went looking for anything resembling, that it would be very difficult to find.

When Migs first started this blog he said to me that he wanted to give a voice to people, to encourage “citizen journalists”.  Migs’ effort in this regard has been outstanding, and I dare say that I might have helped a little along the way.  A look down the RHS reveals just a few names of the people who we have encouraged to write.  Migs has also freely, and with such generousity provided a venue to enable “anyone” to put up topics.  We have had everyone, from professional writers to those who have never had one single word of their’s ever published.

Likewise, there have never been any restrictions on topics, it is always that which the author chooses to write about.  Again, in this way this blog is quite unique.

During the history of the blog we have covered the-up-to-the-minute issues, challenged mainstream media, and I think most importantly of all, written about issues which mainstream are not interested in.  It mattered not the number of hits, nor the number of “shares”.

These issues have included: indigenous, gay rights and disabilities.  The response from people to both of us, Migs and myself is 100% appreciation, and in this we are humbled.  There was no “agenda”, nothing to be gained personally, but the thing to be gained is that special appreciation.

For my own self, this place has become far more than just a blog, it’s become a circle of friends.

Migs is certainly the stats person, but at my guess we have more than doubled our number of daily hits in the last 10 or so months. As Migs noted on our Second Birthday topic “Now, two years later we’ve received over 76,000 comments from almost 700 posts and are nearing a half a million visits.  Over 300 bloggers have commented at the Café.”

Therefore, on behalf of Admin, BIG CONGRATULATIONS must go to all of our very valued authors and contributors.  It’s you who have enabled the Café to reached this very impressive milestone.  But especially, Congratulations to my bestie Migs, who enabled the whole thing to happen.

Friday on my mind: bookish edition

Greetings and welcome to our semi regular Friday on my mind topic.

A good friend wrote, absolutely thrilled about a book which he had been searching for, for ages. Nothing online, nothing in any local bookstores, but then while on a drive in the country he stopped at a small out of the way village, walked into the bookstore and there it was. The book that he had been searching for, and for almost a decade.

Strange how these coicidences happen. My ancient granny would have nodded wisely, and with a knowing twinkle in her eye, would have said in her Welsh lilt, “T’was meant to be”.

Granny only ever agreed that things were meant to be when good things happened, otherwise she would say, “T’was the d’vil’s doin’.” But then Granny was a White Witch who had many magical potions. She knew how to deal promptly with d’vilish doin’s. Granny could also treat almost all complaints, from boils to indigestion. She was Practical Magic.

However, back to books. Books have always been my passion. Today we have iPads and downloads, but there is not that same personal contact. All of that seems very cold and impersonal compared with an embossed, leather volume; pages turned yellow with age. There is something very tactile about a book, and especially old books.

It’s as if the thoughts of ages have been embedded into each page, the touch, the musty smell. One would treat such books with reverence.

By the time that I was 8 years old, I had read every book on archaeology in the Hawthorn library. It was an old building built in the post-modern style built around 1940. In the 1950’s it was modern. The children’s section plus fiction were on the ground floor; the non-fiction was on the mezzanine. I would head straight for the mezzanine. Also on the mezzanine was a long bench seat extending the length of the room. On the bench seat were sets of checkers for anyone who might care to while away a few hours. Most of the participants were elderly gentlemen. By age 10, I was an expert checker player. Unbeknown to my mother, I did not go to school. I went to the library and played checkers.

I was eventually found out in grade 5. After that my mother would drive me to the school gate to make sure that I attended school.

Something tells me that it not the method by which one learns, but the fact that one does learn. It’s the fact of life long learning which is important. Learning should be the endless journey.

Please consider this an open thread for what subject might be of interest.