Archive for June 1st, 2011

They’re not a number-crunching musical group, Julia

i thought we’d made this clear to Julia Gillard months ago, but apparently not because she was out there doing it again today.

Julia, the terrorist group is the Taliban, not the Taliband, or worse yet, the Tally Band. On that last one, I shudder to think what the terrorists would sound like if they counted in that awful screechy musical style that seems to be popular over there. Truly terrifying.

Samuel

June 1st, 2011 at 07:45pm

Germany goes it alone, but they’ll still need us

Germany’s Angela Merkel, normally a reasonable and clever woman, disappointed me the other day by doing something downright stupid. She’s getting rid of nuclear power, not for the usual strange reasons trotted out by the Greens, but because of an earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The Fukushima situation, while concerning, was nowhere near as bad as much of the media breathlessly reported (nice long list of the many many many exaggerations and mistakes or Andrew Bolt has a decent quick summary), and to be clear, it is to be expected that any type of electrical machinery will have problems if you expose it to a massive earthquake and then a tidal wave. It’s just the way it works…

And let me ask you this: how many times did you hear the media report on the fact that a large number of the refugees who fled the quake and tsunami zones were being housed temporarily in other nuclear power plants? Not as many times as you heard the lie of “Japanese radiation disaster”, I’ll bet.

So Germany, a country with no history of bad earthquakes, and virtually landlocked, with a relatively sheltered bit of coastline, so highly unlikely to be hit by a tsunami, makes a knee-jerk reaction to a problem which will never happen in Germany, effectively crippling Germany’s position as a world leader in the move away from coal. Instead, Germany wants to move to so-called “sustainable energy”…great, except that you can’t get baseload power from the so-called renewables. It’s either coal or nuclear.

Well, fine, at least our coal industry will have a country which wants to buy more and more coal.

Then again, perhaps this is a clever move. Nuclear power won’t be phased out for another 12 years in Germany. Watch this space, they’ve already turned off some of the (obviously superfluous to requirements) older nuclear plants, so give them a year or two and I expect the see Angela Merkel come out and say “you know what, we investigated it, and this renewable stuff costs much more and can’t provide what we need, so the nuclear power stays”. She will have successfully headed off an uneducated panic this year from her public, and have kept her country’s position as a world leader in the long run.

As I say, watch this space.

Samuel

2 comments June 1st, 2011 at 03:52pm

Ummm, remember the identical building across the way??

I knew it would happen one day, I just knew it. One day, the ACT Government would complain that the Legislative Assembly building just isn’t big enough and they would claim that they have to build a new building.

It was one of the great mistakes of the Carnell government. The building opposite the Legislative Assembly, the building which looks just like the Legislative Assembly, was transformed from a government office building in to a flipping art gallery and museum, something which Jon Stanhope later saw fit to put one of his many public art works taxpayer-funded monstrosities in. Historically, these were the north and south buildings, now one is an overpacked government building, and the other is an art gallery and museum.

So, to solve the problem that should never have been created in the first place, the amazingly wasteful ACT Government wants a big shiny new building.

The $432 million building will be built on London Circuit in Civic next to the Legislative Assembly to house the Territory’s revamped public service.

It will also include ministerial suites for the Chief Minister and other Cabinet members, which will be connected to the Legislative Assembly by a sky bridge.

The public service unions think it’s a fantastic idea, which of course they would as it gives their members something new to have a gazillion meetings about.

Vince McDevitt from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says the building is desperately needed.

“Obviously it’s a significant investment into the local service, the biggest ever. And it really is long overdue,” he said.

“It’s always difficult of course to come up with a significant sum of money to build something like this, but we really do need it.”

Mr McDevitt says the new office will improve government services by serving as a one-stop shop for the community.

Yes, that’s right, the unions are selling the idea with the reintroduction of the Civic Government Shopfront, a thing which the Stanhope government decided that it didn’t need many years ago because people could just go to Dickson in their lunch break…forgetting that many people in the private sector have a half hour meal break which is barely enough time for the queue, let alone actually getting the business done or travelling there.

And it’s a tad funny that the unions are selling this idea in a way which might appeal to the public when the best the government can do is:

“This [the sky bridge] may well be in some of the previous drafts, but when it comes to making final decisions about constructions, I don’t consider it a priority,” [Andrew Barr] said.

“As long as the two buildings can be connected I think that would make sense. I don’t have a preference one way or the other about whether that connection is at ground level or the first floor, that really doesn’t matter.”

Really? You want to spend $430 million on a building in the CBD which is either going to sit right in front of the already hard to notice theatre, presumably replacing the expensive new library (the government shopfront used to be attached to the old library in East Row, by the way…it used to be where IGA is now) or on the carpark on the other side of the Legislative Assembly, further crippling parking in the area (if this thing has an underground carpark for public servants, will you make them pay for it Andrew), and you think the details of how you want to spend the money really don’t matter? Oh Andrew, you have said some dumb things in your time, but this one is truly spectacularly stupid.

To me, this all sounds like it is making way for the odd idea put forth by the government not that long ago of consolidating every government department in to one mega department, all in the same building. What that would solve is best left alone, lest a brain explosion occur, because it stands to reason that even in a mega department, various people are going to be responsible (or not, as the case may be) for certain things, effectively creating departments. About the only thing a mega department creates is an ability to reduce responsibility by more easily being able to shuffle people from one job to another when they screw up.

The problem here is not an overpopulated Legislative Assembly building, the problem here is an ACT Government which has far too many public servants. Chief Cyclone Katy effectively admitted this herself yesterday:

As the second biggest employer in Canberra with a workforce of nearly 20,000

(h/t ABC News, this and the other articles)

20,000 public servants in the ACT Government alone…goodness knows how many more Canberrans are employed by the federal government. But 20,000 out of a population of 345,000. How can it possibly take 20,000 people to push the paper required to keep a tiny government like the ACT Government running? It shouldn’t. This number should be halved, at least.

The other question is, who are all these people who are overcrowding the Legislative Assembly building, and what do they do? Surely they can’t all be essential to the running of the offices of MLAs? Surely some of these people can be moved to the buildings of other departments…the departments to which they belong perhaps, and then of course there is the simple fact that a whole heap of people in that, and many other ACT Government buildings, are doing jobs which are unnecessary.

What the ACT Government, and the ACT as a whole needs, is not more government buildings, rather it is a more efficient government, so that it doesn’t cost so much to run, and therefore isn’t such a burden on people and businesses, which will in turn make it more viable for businesses to employ more people.

With a little less government waste, Canberra could be an economic hub as well as a government hub, not that I can see this happening under the reign of Chief Cyclone Katy.

Samuel

June 1st, 2011 at 01:11pm

Good morning and welcome to winter

You can put my absence over the last couple of weeks down to a combination of a lack of time and a lack of effort…so anyway, I’m back, and I missed me so I’m going to assume that you did too. But enough about me.

The title on this post “welcome to winter” makes me wonder, how much colder can it get? Today, the next couple of days, and even the last few days are quite balmy compared to the cold temperatures we have been experiencing of late. We had that extraordinary run of temperatures down in the negatives at the start of May, including the day on which it got as low an -6.9°C. In fact, I count 18 days which had a negative overnight temperature and 21 days which were below Canberra’s May average overnight low of 3.2°C. The days were also quite cold, with 16 days having a maximum temperature at or below the May average maximum of 15.5°C.

So, in many ways, it felt like winter came quite early this year. No surprise then, to see this:

Canberra has recorded the coldest autumn in 27 years, while the month of May has been the coldest since 1975 according to meteorologists from The Weather Channel.

The average minimum temperature over autumn of 5.7 degrees is a full degree below the historical average, and daytime maximums have also been half a degree cooler than average.

(h/t Canberra Times’ Hamish Boland-Rudder)

While it is true that weather is not climate is not weather, at some point the average of the weather becomes the climate, and while it is also true that we are only now coming out of a La Nina cycle which one would expect would bring some colder temperatures, the fact remains that we just had a pretty cold autumn, which does fly in the face of the current “the world is getting so hot that we have to tax the air” line emanating from the government.

In the aforementioned article, Ms. Roze from The Weather Channel does go on to say that our winter will probably not be colder than average, in fact she expects it to be ever so slightly warmer than average based on current ocean temperature (read: end of La Nina) trends.

Looking at longer trends and, well, shock horror! Canberra and most of south-eastern Australia hasn’t warmed in the last century.

This all goes to prove something which has been blatantly obvious for longer than I care to count. The notion that humans have caused warming of the planet through carbon dioxide emissions, when it is so clear that natural cycles produce such great variations in the temperature from one year to the next, is downright arrogant. Even more so when you consider that, historically, carbon dioxide levels have followed temperature, not led it. It is even more arrogant, even ludicrous, to suggest that a tax on this carbon dioxide will reduce the temperature.

Oh, and did I mention that the government’s climate expert chief architect of socialist reform Ross Garnaut played the government’s hand yesterday. The carbon dioxide tax is not about the temperature at all, rather it is a giant redistributionist scheme:

Under his plan to distribute carbon tax revenue, Professor Garnaut recommended 55 per cent be given to households, about $6.3 billion under a $26-a-tonne carbon price that raised $11.5bn. Thirty-five per cent of compensation ($3.9bn) would be devoted to business assistance and 10 per cent ($1.5bn) to innovation, of which $750 million is already contained in the forward estimates.

So, 90% of the tax will be given back to the people, and only ten percent of it goes in to the stuff which the government claims will help to keep the temperature under control…make that five percent, because five percent is already in the forward estimates and is presumably coming from somewhere else in the great money cycle of the government, which leaves five percent of the tax unaccounted for. That almost certainly means that it goes towards “administration”, better known as “flying politicians and public servants to pointless conferences about mythical-man-made-warming on carbon dioxide emitting aeroplanes”.

And if you still need convincing that this tax has nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with social change (to borrow a line from Jim Ball), we can go back to the article:

the tax-free threshold for low-income earners would rise almost $9000 to $25,000 under recommendations now being considered by the Gillard government.

Julia Gillard’s chief climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, who handed his final report to the government yesterday, has called for compensation to be provided only to those on incomes up to $80,000, while higher income earners would have their tax rates or thresholds altered to ensure they did not receive any benefits from the increase in the tax-free threshold.

(h/t The Australian’s Sid Maher).

Or to put it simply, the “poor”, those earning under $80,000, pay less tax and get more handouts from the government, while the “rich”, those earning over $80,000, foot the bill. It’s called socialism, and it doesn’t work. It stifles productivity through the entitlement mentality, meaning that less wealth gets produced overall, resulting in less tax revenue and the collapse of the whole system.

If the government really feels the urge to play with the tax system, then something they can do which would have a positive impact is the abolition of automatic income tax deductions. That way, rather than having your income tax automatically deducted so that you don’t really notice that it’s gone, you get to keep the money and do with it as you please throughout the year, increasing the amount of money which is flowing through the free market and the amount of productivity which it creates. At the end of the financial year, you simply fill out your tax return as normal, and pay whatever amount of tax you owe. It would be advisable for you to set some or all of this money aside during the year in a savings account or similar, much like many people do for their other bills…but this allows you to earn extra income from interest, which is derived from the money the banks make in investing your money in the free market economy.

This would, of course, also abolish the tax refund, but this is a good thing because that “refund” is really your money which the government has been hanging on to for the better part of a year. This would also have the benefit of making the government more accountable, as they would no longer have rivers of gold pouring in to their coffers every week. Instead, they would have to budget around when money would actually arrive for them to spend, much like the rest of us do. Ultimately, they would probably receive more tax revenue as a result of increased private sector activity due to this scheme, but rather than being able to waste it as soon as it comes in, they would have to carefully plan how to spend it…who knows, it might even make them spend it on stuff we actually want. Now that would be a change.

Samuel

June 1st, 2011 at 10:53am


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