Tag Archives: Australia

Sorry, I’ve been bad

6 Nov

To my legion of one readers – my bad, I’ve been very lazy. But I promise I’ll get back into the swing of things.

As you know, I’ve moved back to Australia after living in the UK for three and a half years. Apparently I have an English accent which, no offence to my British friends, is absolutely awful.

After a few weeks in sunny Malaysia in between the UK and Australia, I have settled into our little apartment in Bondi Beach with sea views – a great way to wake up every morning.

I’m working as an industry campaigner (essentially doing public relations) for one of the bigger unions in Australia, the LHMU, specifically coordinating its publication Union News and running comms for the Clean Start campaign. I love being part of a proper leftist organisation and I’m enjoying the challenge of expanding my skill sets. But I won’t lie, I miss the politics.

That’s partly why I’ve finally taken the plunge and am now a member of the ALP, the first time I’ve ever been a member of a political party. Its a bit weird not being (officially) apolitical, but its not that much of a stretch.

I’ve been reading Alistair Campbell’s Diaries which have been amazing. Its not just that he tells a great story, but its been fascinating to get inside his head and he has been incredibly honest, about his mindset anyway. After some of the challenges I’ve experienced since I’ve been back, its heartening to see that even the infallible are fallible. Very cathartic.

Other than that, all is going well and I’ll update you more soon.

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Obama’s healthcare probably won’t go through this week

18 Mar

Barack Obama has just announced that he has postponed his trip to Australia until at least June, which doesn’t bode well for the immediate future of his healthcare bill.

His bill needs to go through, for the sake of his Presidency and the health of the American people, so he is staying home to lobby for votes. He was due to address a special joint-sitting of the Australian Parliament and had previously shortened his trip so that it was just the one night, but now it is off for a couple of months.

Presumably, he is also postponing his trip to Indonesia and Asia as well, so potentially this bill has also tarnished his position globally. This is very possibly why relations with Israel are struggling so badly.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has already, very cleverly, started to turn a negative into a political positive, by saying he feels an affinity with Obama as they are both facing significant problems with each other’s Senate. Rudd has been pointing out that the Liberal-National Coalition has been blocking significant legislation and Rudd and his cabinet has been calling opposition leader, Tony Abbott, Dr No.

Is the mad monk losing his early advantage?

10 Mar

I’m torn about the Australian Opposition Leader’s new policy on maternity care. Tony Abbott has announced that under a Liberal-National Coalition Government, Australian women should have 6 months full paid maternity leave, capped at $150,000. This is a fairly big move considering while he was in Government pre-2007, that the Coalition would have a compulsory maternity cover scheme “over the Government’s dead body

The Rudd Government currently has an 18 week maternity leave policy that offers at least minimum wage, which is better than many countries. Clearly though, many companies offer its female employees other options, but Rudd’s programme is guaranteed. But that clearly doesn’t compare to Abbott’s amazing policy. So whats the catch?

Well, he has said it would be funded by a 1.7% tax on companies with profits above $5 million. Current systems rely on tax funding costing only $260 million. It is all pretty rich for a guy who has been pummeling the Government’s ETS policy as a Great Big New Tax. Naturally, the Government has been pummeling right back on this issue. Business Groups are also obviously a tad peeved saying it will lower growth and hamstring business and industry.

One has to question the thinking behind the policy. There will definitely be more complaints and moans to come. For instance, if one business doesn’t have any, or at least a low percentage, of women seeking maternity cover, there will be  complaints as to why they should have to pay the tax. I don’t think it will lead to less women being employed, because companies will realise they have already forked out the cash through the tax, so they won’t get hit twice by employing female staff.

But it will surely lead to a tightening of belts, leading to less overall jobs, for men and women, in the first place. As I said 1.7% is a big financial hit and that will have effects on the work-force. According to Abbott’s maths, this would take $2.7 billion out of business’ and industry’s pockets

It also turns out, Abbott didn’t sound out his MPs about the issue, another thing Rudd and team has been hitting him on and has declared it Policy on the Run.

It is  a questionable policy announcement considering in December Abbott and his team were promising No New Taxes in December – it looks like Abbot has  broken a promise even before they have faced an election.

Maybe this is  confirmation Abbott just wants Australian women at home, doing the ironing. We’ll see how this plays out.

January 2010 was globally the 4th hottest ever despite the cold snap

16 Feb

After the debacle that was Copenhagen, the stalling of vital emissions trading bills in both the US and Australia, the IPCC chaos, climate gate and the public’s cooling towards the man made climate change argument, there is plenty of sceptically suddenly appearing in regards to climate change.

On top of that, the UK, the USA and parts of Asia have had record low temperatures and record cold-snaps. This is has inevitably led to further questions about global warming. The answer to that question is two fold. Firstly, scientists have always suggested that climate change does what it says on the tin, changes climate. That includes record cold as well as record hot. Rush Limbaugh has been caught out stating that the record snows in the US North East are proof that climate change is bunk.

The table below from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the scientific arm of the US Department of Commerce shows the second answer to the question of “what global warming?” According to this info, Russia, the US North East and Northern Europe and the UK have had significantly below average temperatures, but clearly, the surface temperature almost everywhere else has suffered from significant above average heat. In fact from the data underneath the image shows that January was the 4th warmest January on record.

Basically, it shows that people such as Limbaugh have an incredibly localised viewpoint. While that is no surprise for people of his ilk, it is important that Governments highlight this to the wider population. Just because it is cold here, doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be abnormally hot somewhere else. Australia had record setting temperatures over the summer and it doesn’t take much to turn on the television and watch all of the warm weather that is severely hampering the Vancouver Winter Olympics at the moment.

Global Highlights

Worrying trends in public perception of climate change data

16 Feb

The data below comes from a BBC poll into the public perception of the causes of climate change. This was published on the 5th of February and has had reasonably extensive coverage, but what is extremely troubling is that it similar to a trend seen in Australia.

The BBC data shows a huge increase in the amount of confusion about the cause of climate change and this probably has a lot to do with the mess the IPCC seems to find itself in and the debacle of the leaked climate change emails.

This is a quote from Dennis Shanahan in the Australian Newspaper today, which shows that there is some scepticism occuring quickly in Australia also;

There has also been a fall in the percentage of people who believe in climate change. In July 2008, 84 per cent of those surveyed believed climate change was happening and only 12 per cent did not believe it existed at all. Last weekend, the number who believed climate change existed had dropped to 73 per cent, down 11 points, and those who did not believe in it rose 10 points to 22 per cent.

This is overall pretty worrying. Two nations who need to lower its carbon emissions will soon have governments running very low on political capital on the issue.