Thursday, 9 September 2010


One of the problems associated with living in a relatively small city is that there are a limited number of places in which to remain anonymous.

Anonymity matters to me inasmuch as I have a family who may suffer from my strong on-line opinions. It's not fair that they should be effected by this, hence my tag and my efforts to remain in the shadows. I have, under my tag, been threatened with all sorts of things, principally by the nutjobs on A Western Heart. Don't go there.

Anyhow, I went out this morning to transact some minor business at my bank which is located in one of the large shopping centres. It was obviously the morning when the kids from the local special school were doing their Skills for Living training.

This involves being given a shopping list and a defined amount of money, and assigned to the task of purchasing these items. It's a good programme, designed to equip them for independent living when they leave school.

Their supervisors (Teachers and Teacher Aides) hover about, trying to remain as much as possible in the background, at the same time making sure they're safe and out of trouble. Some of these kids have severe autism, so supervision is necessary.

This is all OK, except that these are all kids who were attending my school five years ago when I "retired" and they all remember me. Unfortunately for me, I don't remember their names as well as they remember mine. So I get claimed loudly every time, and then have to stammer my way through a conversation without using their names. Sometimes, they're wearing backpacks with names on and that helps. They usually great me loudly, with great enthusiasm, and everyone within ten metres is well and truly aware of the situation.

Anyway, they're great kids, and I guess I should be pleased that they remember me well. It's just a bit embarrassing.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Katter's 20 Points

Now that the decisions are made, and those that aren't happy are directing streams of abuse at Oakshott and Windsor, it's timely to look at what Bob Katter was knocked back on in terms of his demands for support for voting for the government.

This list has been overshadowed by the white noise created by the outcome, albeit delayed, of the election.

It's worth noting that this isn't the first time we've had a government that doesn't enjoy majority voter support. The hue and cry about this indicates many of the commentators responsible have forgotten (if they ever knew) how our parliamentary system works.

Anyway, here's Bob's list -
1. Creation of a National Energy Grid facilitating resource development, the decentralisation of population and clean energy resources.
2. The removal of the tax on Australian-produced bio-fuels and the introduction of a statutory 10 per cent bio-fuel (ethanol) content in all petrol rising to 22 per cent (as in Brazil).
3. Address the two chain oligopoly in the Australian food retailing sector. The option of divestment (a maximum market share for any chain of 22.5 per cent only) and/or a maximum mark-up of 100 per cent between the farm gate/factory price and the retail price.
4. No carbon tax. No emissions trading scheme.
5. No mining tax.
6. Return of recreational freedoms to traditional pursuits of fishing, camping and outdoor sports and activities. This includes the removal of the Wild Rivers Legislation.
7. Provision of title deeds providing ownership of homes, businesses and farms … to indigenous communities.
8. Legislation to ensure that the constitutional right to full compensation for the taking of property by government be extended also to the taking of any property “rights” by government [such as land-clearing by farmers].
9. Commitment to the use of some part of the Future Fund for the creation of a national development corporation for major infrastructure and strategically important industries.
10. Restoration of collective bargaining rights to Australian farmers. Where a majority of farmers in an industry request collective bargaining arrangements, they be provided.
11. Rural and country hospitals and dental services will be placed under the control of a restored local hospital board and that funding be delivered from Canberra directly to these hospital boards.
12. Agreement that where a food or plant import licence has not been approved, approval can only be granted when the country of origin can establish that is has no endemic diseases that can be imported into Australia.
13. The utilisation of 3 per cent of northern Australia's abundance of water to enable irrigation for small areas of agricultural land sufficient to guarantee a healthy growth in Australia's agricultural sector and to provide food security for our people.
14. Establish a taskforce to secure action to provide: all-weather anchorage roughly every 30 km; … micro resource development at five towns in the Queensland Gulf and Mid-West; … a port to service the southern Gulf of Carpentaria; upgrading the McEwen highway.
15. Government-provided solar hot water systems and/or other measures to reduce the money problems on our older generation caused by rapidly escalating costs for rates, electricity, insurances, car registration and other similar charges, which, increasingly, they are unable to meet.
16. Equal rates of government-funded parental assistance for working mothers and stay-at-home mums as well.
17. An agreement that the Commonwealth meet with the Queensland Government and secure relaxation of restrictions on land sub-division and boundary realignment prohibitions.
18. Address the unfair and artificially high value of the Australian dollar, on which upward pressure is placed by interest rates that are out of step with international benchmarks.
19. Introduce an open, public registry of foreign ownership of farm land, housing, public and private corporations and re-examine the thresholds on foreign ownership requiring FIRB approval.
20. A review of zone allowances for remote areas. Tax should be levied on “real" purchasing power, not monetary purchasing power, as $100 buys a lot less goods and services in Cloncurry than it does in Brisbane.

After forty years of working in the bush, I can see where he's coming from.

The first three points would benefit many, and disadvantage only the vested interests involved in the retail and oil monopolies. This is, of course, why they won't ever be implemented - the big end of town has too much influence on both sides of politics.

Points 4 and 5 obviously weren't acceptable to Labor. It's worth noting that Katter makes reference to global warming in points 1 and 2 and 15 which indicate that he is not a denier. There is a logical inconsistency here. I wonder if a bit more negotiation may have changed this. We'll never know. The mining tax issue is the one exception to Katter's preparedness to take on the big end of town.

Points 6, 7 and 8 are very clear reflections of need in his electorate. Point 9 makes a lot of sense to me, and I'm sure to many rural and regional Australians. Point 10 has its origin in Katter's Labor roots in its use of language. The point (11) about rural hospitals again reflects what he's seen in his electorate. My understanding is that Mt Isa is the only place in Kennedy where a mother can give birth. This situation is not unique to Kennedy, of course, but given the size of the electorate it is a major issue for families, and indicative of the running down of basic health services in the west.

Point 12 sounds like common sense, but again there are enormous vested interests ranged against it. Points 13 and 14 are Bob's very own initiatives, again driven by what he hears from his constituents. Point 15 again sounds like common sense, and would not be fiendishly expensive. Point 16 needs more detail but sounds like a great initiative. 17 and 18 are both issues that Bob has been on about for years, and are again driven by his rural constituency. His chances of getting anywhere with the dollar issue are nil given the influence of the big end of town.

Point 19 is long overdue, but again there is too much international financial muscle ranged against it. These people don't recognise national boundaries.

It's about time the taxation system was harnessed to provide equity for individuals and corporations in the bush. Given the services lacking in many remote and rural areas many of these people shouldn't be paying tax at all.

Good on you Bob. Keep pushing these points. You still have the power to influence.

And a brief message to the pollies and pundits who are screaming about the result. You have short memories.

John Howard had no compunction about taking power from Kim Beazley in 1998 when he received fewer votes on a two-party preferred basis.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...