New Australian Government Cancels the Future

The following is a comment from a Facebook friend, Shane C which he left under a topic I posted on Facebook yesterday; Victoria Rollison’s “Abbott is hiding from the future“. It deserves wider readership than the Facebook page could offer and it is my pleasure to post it here. You will agree that Shane raises some thought-provoking points. Here is what Shane said:

The Cabinet of the new Australian government has just one woman, no science ministry, only one member who takes scientists’ findings on global warming to be true (but who believes a future proof broadband network is not needed), and a particularly dense education minister who thinks advanced tertiary education is a privilege that only the rich should have.

This is a cause of great concern.

A number of breakthroughs in science and technology will start to emerge over the next five to twenty years. Some of the main ones will be breakthroughs in medical science, breakthroughs in materials technology, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and nanotechnology.

A number of consequences will follow which will include but not limited to; the cure for all diseases, not just cancer, resulting in very long life, the catch being that only the rich and privileged can afford it, automation of labour in all mining and heavy industry resulting in the sudden unemployment of all non-skilled labour.

Because of the exponential nature of technological development, the nations that develop the three key technologies first, AI (artificial intelligence), QC (quantum computing), and NT (nanotechnology) will rule the world. Their medical and materials technologies will be as to the rest of the world as current technological societies are to stone age ones.

Not only will the nations who get to the key twenty-first century technologies first have a gigantic economic advantage but access to advanced technologies will bootstrap their advantage even further because they will go on to develop advanced means to accessing space with AI designed, NT grown, single stage to orbit (SSTO) spacecraft that will be relatively cheap to produce and operate.

We could be looking at a twenty-first century that will be dominated by a few AI/QC/NT enhanced societies taking humanity’s first truly permanent steps out into space. Those nations that will be successful will be those who take scientific research seriously, provide the world’s best telecommunications infrastructure, and provide their populations with the best access to medical care and education.

And the new Australian government is not interested in any of this.

"Technology has exceeded our humanity"

(Photo credit: Toban B.)

Newsflash! Fitzroy re-admitted into the AFL!

On AFL Grand Final day – the biggest day of the year – comes the biggest news of the year. Fitzroy are to be re-admitted into the competition. Speaking at the Grand Final breakfast this morning the Prime Minister let slip this policy announcement to a stunned audience.

Or it could just be that the PM didn’t know what he was talking about.

For those who don’t follow AFL, Fitzroy were kicked out of the competition to make way for Port Adelaide, who joined in 1997.

Will the real Scott Morrison please stand up?

Anyone who listened to Scott Morrison’s maiden speech to Parliament in February 2008 would have been heartened that a man of such humility and humanity could one day be a political heavyweight in our country, especially of one who belonged to the Coalition. They had, after all, suffered a massive defeat at the hands of an electorate after twelve years of Howard’s mean spirited government.

After Howard’s demonisation of asylum seekers it was a breath of fresh air to hear someone new in the party speak of his love for all people and their right to share our country. One could have easily been lulled into believing this man could one day become the Minister for Immigration and through his beliefs restore Australia’s long-gone goodwill of fellow beings. Here are some extracts of his speech:

It is with humility and a deep sense of appreciation to the electors of Cook that I rise to make my maiden speech in this House. Today I wish to pay tribute to those who have been instrumental in my journey and to share the values and vision that I intend to bring to this House. I begin by acknowledging the first Australians, in particular the Gweigal people of the Dharawal nation of southern Sydney, who were the first to encounter Lieutenant James Cook, the namesake of my electorate, at Kurnell almost 240 years ago. I also commence by expressing my sincere appreciation to the people and families of the Sutherland shire in my electorate of Cook for placing their trust in me on this first occasion.

The shire community is a strong one. It is free of pretension and deeply proud of our nation’s heritage. Like most Australians, we are a community knit together by our shared commitment to family, hard work and generosity. We share a deep passion for our local natural environment and embrace what Teddy Roosevelt called the vigorous life, especially in sports. It is also a place where the indomitable entrepreneurial spirit of small business has flourished, particularly in recent years. In short, the shire is a great place to live and raise a family. As the federal member for Cook, I want to keep it that way by ensuring that Australia remains true to the values that have made our nation great and by keeping our economy strong so that families and small business can plan for their future with confidence.

At a local level, families—in particular carers—will come under increasing pressure because of the inability of local services to meet the changing needs of an ageing population. The character of our local area is also threatened by a failure to deliver critical state infrastructure such as the F6 extension for our current population, let alone the population growth targets set by the state government for the future.

On the Kurnell peninsula, the modern birthplace of our nation, we must reverse 150 years of environmental neglect, most recently demonstrated by the construction of Labor’s desalination plant—a plant that New South Wales does not need and the shire community does not want.

We must also combat the negative influences on our young people that lead to depression, suicide, self-harm, abuse and antisocial behaviour that in turn threatens our community. We need to help our young people make positive choices for their lives and be there to help them get their lives back on track when they fall.

For the past nine years, the Hon. Bruce Baird has ably represented the Cook electorate. Bruce Baird is a man of achievement, integrity, faith and, above all, compassion. He has set a high standard. I thank him for his service, his personal guidance over many years and for being here today.

From my faith I derive the values of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others; to fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way, including diminishing their personal responsibility for their own wellbeing; and to do what is right, to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and the moral integrity of marriage and the family. We must recognise an unchanging and absolute standard of what is good and what is evil.

Australia is a strong nation. It is the product of more than 200 years of sacrifice—most significantly by those who have served in our defence forces, both here and overseas, and by those who have fallen, particularly those who have fallen most recently, and to whom I express my profound gratitude. But a strong country is also one that is at peace with its past. I do not share the armband view of history, black or otherwise. I like my history in high-definition, widescreen, full, vibrant colour. There is no doubt that our Indigenous population has been devastated by the inevitable clash of cultures that came with the arrival of the modern world in 1770 at Kurnell in my electorate. This situation is not the result of any one act but of more than 200 years of shared ignorance, failed policies and failed communities. And we are not alone: our experience is shared by every other modern nation that began this way. There is much for us all to be sorry for. Sadly, those who will be most sorry are the children growing up in Indigenous communities today, whose life chances are significantly less than the rest of us.

We can choose to sit in judgement on previous generations, thinking we would have done it differently. But would we? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Nor can we compare the world we live in today with the world that framed the policies of previous generations. So let us not judge. Rather, having apologised for our past—as I was proud to do in this place yesterday—let us foster a reconciliation where true forgiveness can emerge and we work together to remove the disadvantage of our Indigenous communities, not out of a sense of guilt or recompense for past failures but because it is the humane and right thing to do. Having said this, we cannot allow a national obsession with our past failures to overwhelm our national appetite for celebrating our modern stories of nationhood. We must celebrate our achievements and acknowledge our failures at least in equal measure. We should never feel the need to deny our past to embrace our future.

We are a prosperous people, but this prosperity is not solely for our own benefit; it comes with a responsibility to invest back into our communities. Our communities are held together by the selfless service of volunteers. We must work to value their service and encourage more of our community to join the volunteer ranks and assist local organisations engage and retain today’s volunteers, particularly from younger generations. We must also appreciate that our not-for-profit sector has the potential to play a far greater role in the delivery of community services than is currently recognised. As global citizens, we must also recognise that our freedom will always be diminished by the denial of those same freedoms elsewhere, whether in Australia or overseas.

We must engage as individuals and communities to confront these issues—not just as governments. We have all heard the call to make poverty history. Let us do this by first making poverty our own personal business.

The Howard government increased annual spending on foreign aid to $3.2 billion. The new government has committed to continue to increase this investment and I commend it for doing so. However, we still must go further. If we doubt the need, let us note that in 2007 the total world budget for global aid accounted for only one-third of basic global needs in areas such as education, general health, HIV-AIDS, water treatment and sanitation. This leaves a sizeable gap. The need is not diminishing, nor can our support. It is the Australian thing to do.

What a wonderful human being. One who recognised injustice to the first Australians; one who felt for those suffering overseas and one who believed in Australia’s ability to open up its arms to the underprivileged of the world.

What happened to him?

First, as our Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship  and now as our Minister for Immigration and Border Protection we hear these words (not in chronological order):

“I have always been angry at people making moral judgements…just because we took a different position from them”.

. . .

More than 30,000 refugees living in Australia will be denied permanent settlement and have their appeal rights stripped, under a new Coalition policy released on Friday.

Mr Morrison said the system would, in part, be modelled on Howard government policies and a system currently operating in the United Kingdom.

He said it would prevent the “90% of those arriving receiving permanent visas”, and address “a backlog of more than 30,000 illegal boat arrivals” already waiting for permanent visas.

. . .

Liberal Party immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has taken the demonisation of refugees and immigrants to new depths. Morrison called last month for asylum seekers living in the community under the Labor government’s punitive temporary visa scheme to be publicly identified, forced to report regularly to the police and placed under unspecified “behavioural protocols.”

. . .

This is an appalling failure from this government where we see other governments like the Government of Canada acting to introduce temporary visas.  They understand the need to take permanent residency off the table.

. . .

Well, I think the real point here is that the Gillard Government is known globally as a soft touch on this issue and people will go where the door is open and that’s certainly the case under this Government.
. . .

THE opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.

Sources say Mr Morrison told the shadow cabinet meeting on December 1 at the Ryde Civic Centre that the Coalition should ramp up its questioning of “multiculturalism” and appeal to deep voter concerns about Muslim immigration and “inability” to integrate.

. . .

The Coalition won’t give up the ‘tow back the boats‘ line, even as it falls apart under scrutiny. It’s dangerous, illegal and threatens our key bilateral relationship with Indonesia.

Morrison’s media strategy is simple, but effective. Every time a boat arrives, he issues a press release and makes himself available for media comment. The line is always the same: we’ll tow them back. On 5 July, for instance, he wrote that “if elected, the Coalition will implement a full suite of proven border protection policies including turning boats around.

I could go on. And on. And on. The internet is filled with online material providing examples of what has become of Scott Morrison (look them up if you need more convincing). He isn’t behaving like the “man of such humility and humanity” that spoke to Parliament in February 2008. The new Scott Morrison seems as mean spirited as Howard himself. It’s hard to believe that the Scott Morrison of today is the same as the one of five and a half years ago.

Will the real Scott Morrison please stand up?

I’m afraid he has.

Guess who’s doing something to address climate change?

From the moment the Labor Party introduced policies to tackle the ravages of global warming, first with Kevin Rudd’s ETS and then Julia Gillard’s price on carbon, the Coalition have used just about every excuse to oppose them.

Prominent among these are the shallow arguments that Australia’s contribution to the carbon footprint is small, and more lamely, that while the big polluters like China and India sit idle in addressing climate change then why should Australia even bother.

I won’t myself bother with providing any links to their argument. Anybody who has read a newspaper, visited an online news service or listened to news radio would by now be well aware of these claims.

In government for less than a week, we have seen the Coalition try everything possible to send our efforts to address climate change back at least a decade.

Meanwhile, from one of those countries that they claim is doing nothing, India, comes this news: India Plans To Build The Largest Solar Plant In The World. In the Climate Progress online journal Andrew Breiner writes that:

Indian utilities plan to use 23,000 acres of land to build the largest solar power plant in the world, at 4 gigawatts of power, bringing prices and production of solar energy closer to competitiveness with coal.

The plant in Rajasthan is expected to commission its first phase in 2016, providing 1 gigawatt of power, enough to make it India’s largest solar power project ten times over. It will be a joint venture of five government-owned utilities. The other 3GW would be produced in an arrangement determined by the success of the first phase.

The finished plant would be comparable in power production to the four in-progress coal-fired Ultra Mega Power Plants (UMPP) under production, at 4 gigawatts of power. But those plants are struggling to hold prices low due to reliance on imported low-carbon coal. The solar plant’s operations won’t be subject to any such constraints.

In addition to cutting carbon, getting off of coal would help India reduce the 100,000+ deaths each year caused by coal plant pollution.

Jasmeet Khurana, of Bridge to India, said that these solar mega projects were intended to reduce the price of solar to INR 5 per kWh (USD 0.08/kWh), bringing it close enough to typical coal prices of INR 3.5/kWh to INR 4.5 kWh for solar to be truly competitive. In fact, coal’s relatively high prices made it so that even India’s largest coal company is turning to solar panels to lower its electric bills.

This comes as IBM and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation finalized a plan to link technological infrastructure in a massive stretch between India’s business and political capitals. Grid improvements will be necessary to fully take advantage of the new solar plant, as India’s often experiences outages and rationing, especially outside of big cities.

Meanwhile, another effort is underway to use solar energy in India in an innovative way. A company called Sarvajal is developing solar-powered “water ATMs” for remote villages, where tens of millions of Indians drink contaminated water on a regular basis. The ATMs would allow entrepreneurs to profitably sell water in smaller villages where transporting bottled water is prohibitively expensive.

As coal and water stress in India drive prices higher, wind is already competitive with new-build coal, and solar parity is getting closer as well, with cost-competitiveness expected sometime between 2016 and 2018. A future of renewable energy may be within reach for India.

Gosh, those people in our government are fairly good at telling lies, aren’t they.

Image courtesy of Associated Press

Image courtesy of Associated Press

If only we could have another election

Kaye Lee notes over at The AIMN that though Tony Abbott has been claiming to have an overwhelming mandate, it turns out he only won by about 30,000 votes. 11 of the Coalition seats have margins of less than 4,000. See this story at the New Matilda, Thirty Thousand votes and Abbott’s gone for a detailed analysis.

Of course, it hasn’t stopped the gloating, especially on this site from the band of right-wing diehards. “Abbott won on Sep 7, so suck it up” is the general consensus.

It appears that many people who voted for the Coalition have since had a change of heart, as this latest Morgan Poll suggests, noting:

The L-NP (50.5%, down 2.9% since the 2013 Federal Election) leads the ALP (49.5%, up 2.9%) on a two-party preferred basis according to the multi-mode Morgan Poll conducted last weekend (September 21/22, 2013) on Federal voting intention with an Australia-wide cross-section of 2,999 Australian electors aged 18+.

But it’s on the airwaves that the real stories are heard. Complaints and messages of regret have been flooding in. Well I guess it’s too late. They should have thought of that earlier.

If only they could get another chance.

Significantly, the message is that after a week in office the Coalition have seen voters turn away from them.

Why do you think this is so?

Abbott Victory

The Purge

A brief post, but it says a lot.

Tony Abbott has been Prime Minister for less than a week. In that time we have seen:

  • The sacking of the two department heads who were the driving forces behind initiatives to address climate change.
  • The scrapping of the Climate Commission, which had been established to provide public information on the effects of and potential solutions to global warming.
  • The Climate Change Authority responsible for investment in renewable energy abolished.
  • Six of the seven Board members of the NBN hand in their resignation.
  • A blackout on the arrival of asylum seekers arriving by boat.
  • And to top off what has already been a horror week, Andrew Bolt has called for journalists who support climate change to be sacked.

What the hell is happening? What the hell are we in for over the next three years?

English: Tony Abbott in 2010.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On deaf ears

Have you noticed that the media have gone quiet on a number of events since Abbott was elected? The glaring one of course is the number of boat arrivals. Tony Abbott’s “Stop the boats” slogan has been replaced with “Stop the boat announcements”.

But it’s not just the boats. It includes broken promises.

Deaf Australia Inc has released a statement condemning Tony Abbott’s disregard and treatment of Australians with hearing disability. It hasn’t made its way to the mainstream media, surprise surprise. The announcement, aptly named Abbott Government silences Deaf voice is subject to copyright so I cannot reproduce it, unfortunately. However, I encourage you to read it. It is only a short statement which tells us a lot about the new Government.

I can summarise the statement though:

  1. Tony Abbott’s election speech commitment has been broken.
  2. Tony Abbott is cutting services which are important to people with hearing disability.
  3. Tony Abbott is out of touch with disadvantaged members of our society.

Is anybody here surprised?

Some people might remember a post here at the Café written by one of our readers called “I can’t hear you” which talks of his problems as a person with a hearing impairment. You may wish to read/re-read it. His problems no doubt have been exasperated thanks to the new Prime Minister.

I guess a return to surplus is more important. How about a return to providing services to those most in need?

Two men found dead on the moon!

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Some of us will be old enough to remember being glued to the television set when Neil Armstrong left the lunar module and ‘finally’ stepped on to the surface of the moon.  We remember too, the image of President Nixon phoning the famous adventurers.

The first moon landing went without a hitch, culminating in that call from Nixon. Nixon would not have made that call, obviously, in the event of a disaster.

What would have he done instead?

For those wanting a break from the turbulent affairs of Australian politics, you may wish to read on. I’ve been shown this interesting document that tells us what Nixon would have done, or said, as an alternative to his famous call.

There was always the strong chance that the mission would fail. There was always the possibility that those men never returned home, being stranded on the lunar surface. In that event, a speech was drawn up which Nixon would have delivered to a shocked world. Titled “In event of moon disaster” it reads:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Damn interesting, don’t you think? Makes one want to think about the alternative.

Sacked, for believing in climate change

The sacking yesterday of three public department heads signals that the Abbott Government fully intends to politicise the Public Service. In that regards they follow in John Howard’s dreaded footsteps.

Those sacked include Don Russell from the Department of Innovation and Blair Comley (pictured) from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (RET).

Here’s where I think their sackings were politically motivated.

When the Gillard Government disbanded the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in March, the climate change functions were absorbed into the Department of Innovation and the energy efficiency functions into RET. Is it a coincidence that both these department heads have now been sacked?

I have only met Don Russell a couple of times but I’ve had the pleasure to hear Blair Comley speak on a number of occasions. His commitment to addressing climate change was one of his great drivers and he possessed a passion that also drove others. His devotion is unmatched by anybody I have ever met.

Further, his knowledge of international and local initiatives on energy efficiency techniques alone made him an asset to the government.

His other great passion was Indigenous affairs and he fought tirelessly in his portfolio to address the social and economic disadvantages of Aboriginal Australians.

Is it any wonder Tony Abbott wanted to sack him?



Mr. Abbott says he is going to be methodical, steadfast, careful mature adult and all the similar words one can think of.

Maybe one could say that is admirable.  Why an adult, that is taking on the role of PM keeps telling us he is going to be adult and mature puzzles me. One would think that would be taken as a given. Has he been acting in an immature manner up to now?

Now, Mr. Abbott, what is more important, that one carries out each talk in the correct order? I feel, from what you have told us, you intend to put the cart before the horse.

Yes, doing things arsehole about.  Yes, doing things back the front.

You seem to have lost the way, in your haste, in demolition of all that your arch enemy Julia Gillard built.

Has it entered your head, or of those about you, that’s for you to put your proposals in place?  Yes, you do not have to demolish the house, in most cases; the renovation could get you what you want.

Mr. Abbott, you say you want to save the taxpayer money, yet you are setting out on a path that will create waste and cost us more. Yes, not save as you say you desire.

You say your first action is to cut the carbon tax. Not sure what you mean, but what do you mean?  You are aware that there is a suite of CEF legalization that goes to reducing carbon emissions.? It is all of these measures you are removing, along with the price on carbon emissions. Mr. Abbott, you are out removing a tax. A Carbon tax does not exist.

I suggest that instead of wholesale demolition that you reconsider your actions, by introducing your Direct Action legalization, with the aim of it making the present legislation redundant.  At the same time, there are many similar schemes within the CEF legalization that could be changed to fit in with DA. This would lead to less disruption to staff and those already receiving assistance. The main difference in the two schemes apart from planting millions of trees is the way you are funding the operation.

The present scheme is funded with a fixed price being put on carbon emissions, moving to a market based price. The funds for Direct Action, I believe, will be provided out of general revenues. Mr. Abbott, it will still come from taxes paid by the taxpayer.  What we need to know, what are you going to cut to find the money? What is wrong with the polluter pay?  This is the case now. Is not there penalties hidden away in your scheme which business will have to pay?

I believe you need to have Direct Action before the parliament, before you rescind the CEF legislation, so, we the public know what it is about. This would make it more seamless to move between the two schemes.

Mr. Abbott, I say this, as I do not trust you. I feel that many in your government do not want any action taken at all and Direct Action will be abandoned.  This would help you to keep your promise to be open and transparent.

There is nowhere that I have seen that there is still a majority who believe that carbon emission harm the atmosphere and needs to be addressed.  Why are you insisting on rescinding agencies that assist in assessing carbon emissions?  Why are you turning your back on the science?

One could say the same about your grandiose PPL scheme which many consider too expensive, and unnecessary. Why not just rejig the Labor scheme? Why does the whole package have to be sent to the trash bin? This costs money.  Just change the benefit and eligibility to be paid.  Why do you have to restart from the beginning again?

As for the NBNCo, I suggest before wasting money sacking everyone, that you get Mr. Turnbull to find out how much copper wire will need to be brought up to standard and how much it will cost.  You did intend, down the track, to move to fibre to the home.

What will become of the technology you will have to use with copper to the node, plus the cost of the nodes?  I believe this will have no further use. I for one do not want to see Telstra bought back into the picture. I believe they should join the same level playing field as all other ISPs.  If necessary, I suspect you could quickly find any waste within the system.  Yes, once again, renovation is the name of the game. There is no need to pull all down.  Take into account what the long-range cost will be.  Yes, you need to compare what the cost of taking it to the premises, of yours and Labor’s scheme.  We like to see this when comparing.

Fibre to the home is the superior technology.  It will be needed in the long term.

Mr. Abbott, all I ask is that you reconsider your plans for demolition and consider renovation where necessary. This will lead to less waste.

We have Operation Sovereign Borders, which many fail to understand what you are about, Mr. Abbott. Please explain how replacing the present practice of only allowing bridging visa as is inferior to the TPV you are restoring. It might have missed your notice, but bridging visas have fewer rights, than TPVs. Yes, they are stricter, and scare the boat people more.

Mr. Abbott, what happens to those who marry here, or have the children? How long do you expect people to remain on your TPV? From what you have written, it will be forever. Mr. Abbott, are you dismantling the “NO ADVANTAGE” test.

Mr. Abbott, maybe it would have been more prudent to talk to Indonesia and others in the region before rushing off to promote an army man. Maybe there are other more humane options. Maybe, a trip to PNG, to give that country’s scheme a chance to work.

Mr. Abbott, the biggest question I ask, is why most of your election campaign, was identical to the one you used in 2010? Yes, the same, with no more detail, I am afraid. You do not wonder that maybe things have changed since then, and maybe new policies were needed.

Mr. Abbott, why is your new front bench made up of yesterday’s men. Men from Mr. Howard’s failed government that was thrown out in 2007.