Political Advantage From People Dying? Labor Finally Goes Too Far

Pursuant to my article yesterday, asylum seekers and illegal boat arrivals continue to dominate political discourse; finally — with one ill-advised, incendiary and rancorous remark — the Labor Party’s moral posture on these fraught issues has been obliterated.

I can’t call it a debate; the Coalition position has been consistent ever since the arrival of the MV Tampa in 2001 signalled a determination on the part of the Howard government to deal with illegal asylum seekers, unauthorised boat arrivals, and people smuggling generally once and for all.

And it did: the boats — and their pitiable cargo of trafficked human beings — stopped coming, and the scum who trafficked them were stopped in their tracks.

Bleeding hearts, chardonnay swillers and the Communist Party Greens were outraged. How dare people be locked away in mandatory detention, or issued Temporary Protection Visas? How dare Australia send people to places like Manus Island or Nauru?

The fact is that the Pacific Solution worked; it stopped the boats, genuine refugees who came by boat were granted — once their claims were processed — asylum in Australia, and deaths at sea virtually ceased.

ALP Parliamentary Secretary Mark Dreyfus scraped a new low in political standards today, accusing opposition leader Tony Abbott of “(seeing) political advantage in people dying” after Abbott refused to entertain any further talks with the Gillard government aimed at a compromise to find a bipartisan solution to the asylum seeker problem.

And why wouldn’t Abbott refuse?

As I wrote in this column yesterday, Abbott and his Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison have been shrewd to avoid being sucked into a trap: the overtures of “bipartisanship” from Labor are simply an endeavour to spread the political pain from this issue, and thus neutralise it; there is no reason whatsoever for Abbott and the Liberal Party to agree to anything of the kind.

Let those who criticise Abbott reflect that in a little over a year from now, he is likely to win the Prime Ministership in a crushing electoral victory; to do anything other than he is doing now would be to trash — in advance — whatever credibility as Prime Minister he may have on immigration policy.

The sticking point seems to be the adherence — I would call it slavish, without irony — by the government to its so-called “Malaysia Solution;” let’s have a quick review of that half-baked plan.

It calls on Malaysia to take 800 of our asylum seekers in return for 4,000 of their “processed refugees;” Australia would abrogate all controls, screening and standards over the people it would consequently be obliged to admit to this country.

It obliges Australia to pay Malaysia some $300 million for the privilege of a 5 to 1 swap that serves the interests of Malaysia far better than it does of Australia.

It is unimaginably short-sighted — there’s neither mention nor debate about what happens after boat arrivals 801 onwards are supposed to do.

It formalises the outcome for those asylum seekers who get to Malaysia — legitimate refugees, queue jumpers and less desirable types alike — to bypass several other countries in which they could resettle, and get to Australia instead.

And it has been ruled unconstitutional by the High Court.

Shall I go on?

The “Malaysia Solution” represents a deal struck by the government with Malaysia — which knew the Gillard government to be, proverbially, over a barrel — in the wake of the equally ill-conceived “East Timor Solution” which the East Timorese had never heard of when it was announced.

The “Malaysia Solution” offers no disincentive either to people smugglers nor their customers; if an asylum seeker happens to be at least the 801st arrival, there’s an excellent chance they’ll never set foot on Malaysian soil anyway — and so the whole thing starts again (although I’d wager the ALP is betting it may be back in opposition by then, should such a scenario ever arise).

And whatever else the Labor Party says it proposes, or will concede to the Liberals, it is a stated non-negotiable that the government will not agree to anything that does not include the “Malaysia Solution” at its core.

In light of all of this, it’s no wonder at all that Abbott and the Liberals refuse to negotiate with the government; indeed, they should be commended for that exact refusal. As Abbott said on Fairfax radio this morning, there is no point in negotiating just for the sake of negotiating.

But the comments by Dreyfus, implying that Abbott sought to gain politically from drownings at sea, are so insidious as to barely warrant comment.

Yet I do so on account of the fact that Dreyfus has betrayed the true spirit of Labor’s approach to this issue: carry on like a petulant child, and then — when things don’t go to plan — get really, really nasty.

On one level, though, Dreyfus is right: these matters directly concern and affect people’s lives in an actual sense; not to resolve these issues is to virtually guarantee more asylum seekers will die en route to Australia.

Which is why the Liberal Party position is the principled stand, and the Labor position flawed on just about every level imaginable.

Despite my political differences with them — and those differences, obviously, are considerable — I refuse to believe that the vast majority of Labor’s federal MPs are anything other than decent well-meaning people, even if they are wrong.

Even if a small few show themselves up from time to time to be Neanderthals and grubs, as Dreyfus did this morning.

And I would point again to the Greens, Labor’s supposed coalition partners, and simply ask why the government can’t deal with them? Why does it have to be the Liberals who must capitulate to the ALP and its useless policy, when they have their very own coalition partner at hand?

The answer lies in the fact that really, at the end of the day, the agenda of the parties of the Left is as much about denial of the Howard government and its legacy as it is about anything rational, practicably useful, or remotely constructive.

And as much as Gillard likes to rattle and drone on about “getting something done” (there’s another of those descendant slogans of “moving forward” again), if she simply got on and did something — with the support of her party’s ally, the Greens — there wouldn’t even be a continuing debate.

But there would certainly be a policy failure, and one that couldn’t be wiped on the Liberal Party as collateral, and it is this which motivates the political conduct of the Labor Party on this issue as it seeks to avoid yet another strike against its record in government.

And so, on the one hand, we have a policy that worked effectively as intended for seven years until it was abolished; the reinstatement of the Pacific Solution carries a guarantee of Coalition support in Parliament to bring this issue to conclusion.

That policy is opposed by Labor and the Greens for no better reason than the fact John Howard presided over it.

On the other hand, we have this half-baked, unworkable, impractical and downright naive “Malaysia Solution” which will do nothing in the longer run to resolve the boat/asylum seeker issue.

And now — courtesy of Dreyfus — the Coalition may be even less inclined to bail Labor out than ever; for it is one thing to retrospectively vilify a Liberal ex-Prime Minister simply for winning four elections, but it’s another matter altogether to effectively accuse the presumptive Liberal Prime Minister-in-waiting of welcoming the deaths of asylum seekers in the name of political profit.

It’s pretty sordid stuff. Not edifying. Not stylish at all.

Suddenly — as it has on account of so many other issues the Gillard government has mishandled — Labor’s job to fix this mess got that much tougher today.

Labor’s Sick Joke: Boat Policy Abrogated In Name Of Blame Game

Yet another illegal boat. More asylum seeker deaths. Border policy shouldn’t be squibbed in the name of burbling bleeding hearts and compassion babble; the government can walk softly but must carry and use a damned big stick.

First, an apology to readers: I am still here, and I apologise for my silence; I have simply been so snowed under as to have had no time to pen these articles, working 80-100 hours per week as I have been. Even so, I want to post comment on this issue, even if it is hurried.

It’s become a story so familiar now that I suspect some people have become immune to it; yet another unauthorised boatload of illegal immigrants has met with disaster off the coast of Australia; dozens of people are dead.

And it is about time Julia Gillard and her government shouldered responsibility both for the endless stream of boat arrivals and for the growing number of deaths at sea instead of playing politics.

The latest call for “bipartisanship” — Labor’s trumpeting panacea for every mess in which it lands these days — has rightly and correctly been ignored by Tony Abbott, his spokesman Scott Morrison, and their Coalition colleagues.

I’ll come to the boat arrivals shortly, but Abbott and his colleagues are shrewd enough to recognise the trap and astute enough not to fall into it; and if anybody wants to accuse anyone of heartlessness or bloody-mindedness, they should point the finger in the direction of the government.

When it came to power (and this is an old story), the ALP under Kevin Rudd inherited a border protection regime and an approach to asylum seekers and people smuggling that had literally stopped the flow of boatloads of illegal immigrants bound for Australia completely.

Supposedly in the name of “compassion” and of “humanity,” Rudd’s government quickly set about closing the offshore detention facilities that the Howard government had established, abolishing temporary protection visas, and curbing a raft of other measures that had been introduced to deal with the problem of people smugglers putting thousands of lives at risk each year by sending unauthorised boats filled with asylum seekers in our direction.

Now, the results of this so-called compassion are clear to see; dozens of boats and thousands upon thousands of people risk their lives now in coming to Australia, with the cost that not only can the country not accommodate them, but that increasing numbers are dying en route — as has happened now.

What became known as the Howard government’s “Pacific Solution” unequivocally worked, and the Coalition is committed to reintroducing it.

Labor, by contrast, persists with the cack-brained mentality that anything to do with the Howard government — especially anything it has abandoned — must be avoided at all costs.

And so it consequently persists with its useless “solutions” to the issue.

Far from reaching out to the Coalition in the name of “bipartisanship,” Labor merely seeks to infect the Liberal Party with the venom of its own policy failure, and Abbott and Morrison are right to reject such overtures in the absolute.

And far from being a policy of compassion, the Labor approach to this issue is a policy of death; of Russian roulette with people’s’ lives, and the ongoing tragedy of death at sea as unauthorised boats meet with disaster is a direct and damning consequence of that.

The Communist Party Greens — with their open-the-borders-let-’em-come-and-bugger-the-consequences policy — are just as culpable as the Labor Party; but I would make the point that with their influence over Gillard government policy since entering into coalition with Labor after the 2010 election, the Greens have provided ample evidence that they are indeed the malevolent band of dangerous lunatics most of us on the Right (and an increasing number of people in the centre) have always believed them to be.

And for those asylum seekers who actually make it here, a rising tide of anger awaits them in the Australian populace; it’s not a few boatloads of people coming here now, but tens of thousands of people each year, and the government simply refuses to stop it.

Australian people do not want these people wandering around their communities awaiting processing; they do not want them rewarded with indefinite residence for jumping the queue; and they do not want — down the track — exponentially greater numbers of consequent arrivals in the form of family reunion visas that bring enormous numbers of people into the country and who add — quite literally — nothing to Australia’s society or to its economy.

I believe that family reunion visas should be abolished for all but immigrants arriving under the skilled migration intake, but that’s an argument for another day.

Border policy and the fraught issue of dealing with people smuggling, illegal boats and the resultant flood of people are not things that can be dealt with by burbling bleeding hearts, compassion babble, or on the whims of the chardonnay-swilling chatterati set which is far too trendy — and detached from reality — for its own good.

Rather, the bittersweet pill of a hardline approach is essential; countless lives can be saved, and the integrity of Australia’s legitimate (and genuinely compassionate) refugee intake policies can be preserved.

Anything else from the elected government, I’m afraid, is a cop-out, and a sick joke.

The worst consequences are there — in the form of dead asylum seekers being pulled from the water on Christmas Island — for all to see.

And let’s be clear: those deaths are the direct result of government policy, and have nothing to do with Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison, the Liberal Party of Australia, or any other entity that the Labor Party callously seeks to blame.

Some may gasp at the fact I’m not even going to sugar-coat the fact that the Labor government is directly responsible for the deaths of these people, but that’s one of the problems in this country these days; in the mad obsession with offending nobody, nothing is ever called for what it is any more lest the political consequences be catastrophic.

Yet that’s the way it is; and if the Gillard government doesn’t want to face those facts, then it must — must — forget about this pathetic obsession with the Howard government and reinstate the Pacific Solution it so ill-advisedly abolished.

It must stop playing political football; Labor is in office, and Labor must govern; the responsibility for dealing with this lies with the ALP.

And in addressing that fact, it can show real compassion by legislating policy that will stop asylum seekers dying at sea, rather than its despicable attempts to spread the blame for a policy regime which is, quite literally, a proven recipe for disaster.

Renewable Red Herrings: Time To Get Real About So-Called Green Energy

An article in The Australian today, detailing costs of wind and solar power and their impact on power bills relative to the carbon tax, has boiled my blood; it is time to get real about so-called “green” energy, and to recognise the pile of horse shit the whole concept is predicated on.

One of the many things wrong with this country at the moment is the virtual siege mentality that has been engineered by the Communist Party Greens, intellectually moribund academics and the sensationalist pork-barrellers in Canberra over the environment in general and the generation of energy in particular.

Specifically, the presentation of “problems” requiring “solutions” that amount to little more than window-dressing — yet cost billions of dollars, and slug ordinary Australians already stretched to breaking point by cost-of-living pressures — is a contemptible little closed circuit that plays on the gullibility of the uninformed.

The Australian reports today — and I quote — that “subsidies for rooftop solar panels will cost consumers about $2.3 billion over the next year as the combination of a federal government solar subsidy program and state government feed-in tariffs add about $140 a year to household power bills.”

Without going too far into the article’s breakdown of the figures, beyond that headline figure the rest of it is simple detail. The Australian does note, though, that price impacts associated with “renewable” energy on power bills are additional to those of the looming carbon tax, and greater in size than the imposts the carbon tax promises to inflict.

I do, however, wish to quote South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill; speaking directly on this issue, he said “…people want to find ways of reducing their environmental footprint and many choose to pay higher electricity costs because of signing up to green energy…they want to buy green power.”

Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better. And that’s a big part of the problem.

I would make the clear point that nobody likes environmental pollution, or at the very least, most of us don’t; but by the same token, unless we all go back to living in caves and cooking around a fire, the worldwide imperative for baseload electricity generation and its attendant side-effects are issues that are actual, not academic, and certainly ones that will not be resolved on an economically viable basis by wind power or solar energy.

Even so, the siege mentality to which I referred has had the consequence that millions of people across the country believe the planet is on the brink of environmental and ecological collapse; this doesn’t just include the gullible, the stupid and the contemptible, either: learned folk, intelligent folk, otherwise rational and functional folk actually believe this pap too.

And the consequence, in turn, of that has been that an environment now exists — no pun intended — in which a) governments and QANGOs can impose endless taxes, levies, charges, fees and other imposts in the dubious name of “clean energy;” and in which b) a sideshow of hypocritical circuses now exists, and grows, to provide a semblance of a solution to the “problem” but which, in fact, is a mere perpetuation of it.

Environmental Footprint. Carbon Offset. Food Miles. Clean Energy Future. Blah Blah Blah. These — and other politically stylish catchphrases — do not describe actual phenomena; rather, they reflect the results of marketing consultancies and focus group sessions to devise suitably punchy slogans by which to perpetuate the myth of the environmental siege gripping the planet.

It should give readers pause for thought to consider that in and around all this high-profile concern for the Earth’s environmental good, nary a mention is given to the salinity levels in soils that have been mismanaged; to tangible problems such as the wholesale clearance of rainforest areas, including in this country; or to the sick state of health of river systems.

Yes, these issues are acknowledged, but paid mere lip service by comparison: the real show, and the real money, lies where a tax can be efficiently levied — and, on a rainforest or a river or a salt pan, it can’t be.

Wind farms aren’t just ugly, they’re next to useless; in the name of 2% of the country’s electricity being generated from wind, pristine coastal areas are scarred and blemished by these unsightly monstrosities that are inefficient, unreliable, and ridiculously expensive to manufacture, install and maintain.

And, importantly, which don’t even turn if the wind doesn’t blow.

Solar energy isn’t much better; anyone who has ever made the mistake of “investing” in a solar hot water system knows all too well that when it is cold, or grey, or raining — or night, which is 50% of the time — booster electricity from baseload power is required if there is hot water to be had. How — given this simple small-scale but authentic example — baseload electricity could ever sustainably be generated from solar energy is a mystery.

And let’s not ignore the fact that whilst electric cars are becoming environmentally stylish — they emit no greenhouse gases — they still need to be recharged; and the various sources from which that recharge comes are all powered by fossil fuel-fired electricity generation. Ultimately, burning oil is replaced by burning coal.

(And whilst slightly off the track, let’s remember the raft of new “green” levies being charged on airfares and so forth — rather pointlessly, any trees planted with the proceeds won’t eliminate a molecule of jet engine exhaust from the atmosphere).

Thanks to the Greens (back in the days when they were actually environmentalists in the true sense, whether right or misguided, and not the social engineers and warriors of the hard Left) hydro-electric power is almost impossible to consider in Australia, as are the additional dams required to provide the water source to drive it.

And geothermal power — a great idea in theory — is, today, no answer.

The simple fact is that Australians are paying through the nose to subside the likes of wind power and solar power, which resolve nothing and do not eliminate demand on electricity generated using fossil fuels.

And the carbon tax is an illusion: far from creating a “clean energy future,” it is likely to decimate local manufacturing industries and the likes of the steel and aluminium industries (and boost their overseas counterparts from whom we will increasingly import), whilst providing cover for utility companies, transport companies, and every other industry to raise prices well beyond the level of the impost of the tax.

All the while, achieving nothing in terms of environmental outcomes.

All the while ignoring the fact, just like proverbially sticking one’s head up one’s backside, that the rest of the world (and 99% producer of environmental pollutants) is doing, in broad terms, nothing.

And all the while, Julia Gillard and the other imbeciles who constitute federal government in Australia rattle on that more is being paid to Australians as “compensation” for the carbon tax than the tax will actually generate in revenue.

It mustn’t take Einstein to realise that at the very least — on that third point alone — something is very, very wrong.

Any tax for which more is paid out to soothe grievances than is collected is either an utter waste of time or a smokescreen for something else.

I believe it is both, to be frank. There is ample evidence that the carbon tax will provide no positive environmental benefit whatsoever.

There is also ample — and growing — evidence that it will inflict great damage on Australia’s economy, and no guarantee that it won’t inflict great hardship on millions of Australians, some of them on the breadline, and many more simply overburdened by rocketing price pressures their otherwise adequate incomes cannot afford.

Perhaps the billions of dollars in government expenditure on subsidies, reasearch and development concessions, grants and the like would be justifiable if cost-effective solutions were being realised, or if additional billions were not required from the leverage of a bevy of ambit new taxes.

But they aren’t.

And in any case, until certain elements in the energy debate are firmly told where to go — and nuclear energy finally put on the table in Australia in a meaningful sense — the merry-go-round of taxes, handouts and higher consumer prices will continue indefinitely.

The whole exercise is pointless. It is, however, usurious in its expense, and I refuse to believe that the expenditure and transfer of such vast sums of money, simply to make people feel good about environmental issues, is worth it.

When it comes to electricity generation and the environmental issues surrounding it, the present debate and the actions emanating from it — as I said at the outset — is predicated on a truckload of shit.

And until people in positions of consequence want to get serious about these things, and abandon the perpetuation of such a ruse, the use of coal and gas to fire power stations remains the best, and most economical, option available.

Poisonous Ideas (reposted from JR Nyquist): Not Such A Poisonous Argument

Sometimes — when looking to encapsulate a foundation from which to mount an argument — it is necessary to look afield, and to share common thoughts; tonight’s post does precisely that, and Jeff Nyquist’s excellent article is one we will return to and discuss.

In ensuring I keep abreast with everything in the world I want to, I find that I read copious volumes of other people’s opinion pieces, essays and dissertations, in addition to following the raw flow of news, tonight I refer to a piece a read a couple of years ago by American author, columnist and scholar Jeff Nyquist.

To be clear, I certainly do not believe everything I read, and I disagree with Nyquist as often as I concur with him; even so, when he nails an issue he tends not to miss, and so it is with the piece I have linked to this evening.

Over the coming weeks, I intend to intersperse the comment pieces I have been publishing with other articles written from a more purely conservative philosophical bent; I do believe that all is not well in Western societies — Australia included — and whilst shrill generalisation is not the intention, it does seem that many of these problems emanate from the Left of the political spectrum and, indeed, could be characterised as the flows at the end of the tributaries of the “River Communism.”

With the strong caveat that I don’t agree with everything in this article (and to the extent that I do agree with some elements of it, that agreement is qualified), I would urge all of my readers to click the link and read the article I have reposted here.

And to think about it; to discuss it with family, friends and colleagues; indeed, share it: even if you disagree in the strongest terms with the substance of the Nyquist argument, forward the link to those around you with whom you discuss issues of substance, and see what they think.

And send me comments: there will be articles arising from the general ideas that are covered by Nyquist and — as always — all views, assenting, dissenting or otherwise — are encouraged and welcomed.

Please click the link below and read the attached article. I think the issues covered are important, and that it is high time to nudge social debate back onto a more meaningful footing. I look forward to hearing what people think.

And with that, over to J.R. Nyquist…

Poisonous Ideas | JR Nyquist | FINANCIAL SENSE.


Status Quo: Newspoll, Essential Research Findings Static

Two new polls have hit the streets in the past 24 hours, with little of note to report on; Newspoll in The Australian finds the Coalition ahead after preferences on an unchanged 54-46 basis this fortnight, whilst Essential’s 56-44 Coalition lead also remains unchanged from last week.

And even on the primary vote movements, approval and disapproval of the respective leaders and the “preferred PM” measure, the limited variations that are found by these surveys are all well within the margin of sampling error.

And thus — for once — I do not propose to list them all out.

The basic comment I would make is that in the final analysis, the only finding that matters — really matters — is the two-party vote after the distribution of preferences (and how that would apply across 150 electorates to produce an election result).

On that score, it is clear the ALP remains stolidly on target to record a massive defeat, whenever the next election takes place.

It is true that the two-party figures in these two polls are a little tighter than they were a few months ago, and are a little tighter than Nielsen, Galaxy and Morgan — all of whom most recently find annihilation and not defeat is the government’s pending fate.

Yet even on these “tighter” numbers, it’s only the difference between a thumping and a mauling that we quibble over.

Now that Craig Thomson is again temporarily receding from centre stage, and now that the dust has more or less settled, politically, on the budget and its hundreds of millions of bribe dollars, it is clear that the position of the Gillard government really isn’t any better in round terms than it has been in the past 12 months or so.

A discussion with an associate of mine today opened with the fairly obvious position that voters are no longer listening to Gillard, and have switched off; but for all the scandals, the lies and incompetence, and indeed the issues of minority government and the dreadful opinion polls notwithstanding, there is another undercurrent that I believe is being reflected in all of these polls.

Very simply, the broken election promise over the carbon tax isn’t the half of it.

My associate and I were talking — of all things — about WorkChoices; specifically, the role of the unions (as opposed to the ALP) in the campaign leading to the 2007 election, and the subsequent rewards apportioned to the unions by the incoming government in deep gratitude for services rendered.

And I realised something…

WorkChoices is the genesis, at its root, of the demise of the current Labor government.

It’s true the Howard government introduced WorkChoices without an electoral mandate; the campaign waged against it was one that played to the fears — existential fears of food, clothing, shelter and security — of a significant minority of the electorate.

But Howard — as the ALP/union storyline runs — had a secret industrial relations agenda for years; despite his repeated denials, and much evidence to validate them in the first three terms of his government, that agenda materialised into legislated reality on the back of a surprise Senate majority at the 2004 election with the name WorkChoices emblazoned across it.

Howard had committed the sin of omission by not saying so during the 2004 campaign; and his popular, reasonable and competent government transmogrified overnight into the vicious IR demon those lefties had warned about all the way back in the early 1990s.

For those same people now — the same Labor Party which rode the issue to government, backed by the same trade unions — to have produced a carbon tax in spite of solemn promises to the contrary is for them to be guilty of precisely what they crucified Howard for.

It is for this reason the polls refuse to budge in Labor’s favour; and it is for this reason that they will continue to spell disaster for Labor even after a leadership change.

It’s a point the likes of Stephen Smith, Simon Crean, Bill Shorten and that egomaniacal  cretin Kevin Rudd would we well advised to heed.

People don’t expect much from their politicians, which is a shame; what should be a noble profession ranks in the gutter in the estimation of many.

But whilst lying politicians tend to be given short shrift by the public, hypocritical liars are another specimen group altogether. And this is my point.

The reason the polls aren’t moving is because this federal government is collectively viewed as a hypocritical liar; it doesn’t matter who said what any more, and it no longer really matters who leads the Labor Party now.

What these polls consistently show is that barring a miracle or a disaster — depending on your political persuasion or perspective — the result of the next election is a foregone conclusion; it’s only the margin that is in doubt.

And these points — not some arbitrary comment on why Gillard is up a point and Abbott down a point, but the voting intentions remain the same — are far more salutory conclusions to draw from months of opinion sampling across Australia, whose message has been consistently clearer for longer than ever before, and in relation to a four year old government that has, already, been in power for perhaps too long.

What do you think?


Undemocratic Thuggery: Labor Commits To Ignore Election Outcome

With the Government’s hated carbon tax now less than three weeks from taking effect, the ALP has promised to do everything it can in opposition — after the next election — to prevent the repeal of the tax. Such a stand is breathtaking in its arrogance, and sets a very dangerous precedent.

An article by Greg Sheridan in yesterday’s edition of The Australian — quoting Climate Change minister Greg Combet from ABC Radio — nails Combet firmly to the mast in highlighting what can only be described as a worryingly belligerent philosophy on Combet’s part that, if implemented, would amount to a flagrant disregard for democracy by the Labor Party as a whole.

Before we rip into it — and, for the record, into Combet — I should point out that there have been hints of this approach to the carbon tax from Labor and from for some months. The fact Combet now appears to be doing interviews, presenting this proposed course cogently and from an apparent position of organisational readiness, heralds a new phase in the ALP’s planning for opposition.

Which, if this is any indication, is exactly where Labor is headed.

Combet’s grand plan on the carbon tax in opposition — which he has as good as formally committed the Labor to, given the breadth of the strategy he has been outlining and the wide public means by which he has done so — is that if the ALP loses the next election, it will combine with the Communist Party Greens in the Senate to ensure the carbon tax is never repealed.

In other words, to hell with an election result.

To hell with the mandate of a new, popularly elected government.

And to hell with the legitimate wishes of the Australian voting public.

Shanahan reports that it wouldn’t matter what mandate a Coalition government might have to repeal the tax; Combet has committed Labor to whatever obstruction it can provide in the Senate, up to and including forcing a double-dissolution election on the issue.

Claiming that an election loss would not alter Labor’s “principled position on a carbon price,” Combet is quoted from his interview on ABC Radio, saying “In politics you’ve got to stand up for what you believe in. And this has been Labor policy for years now. Having a price on carbon, through an emissions trading scheme arrangement. That’s what we’re implementing.”

Just as readers should not be surprised — after all, the most dishonest government in Australia’s history may as well continue on to become its most disreputable opposition for good measure — nor should people feel threatened, bullied, or disempowered.

We all know the story; 89% of Australians cast their votes in 2010 for parties (including Labor) that were not offering “carbon pricing” as a policy; indeed, the ALP and its contemptible leader explicitly promised that no such tax would be implemented.

And having prostituted her government to a few Commies to hold onto office, Gillard reneged: not only would there be a carbon tax, but the Australian public — having voted against such a measure once — would be given no further say by Labor on the issue.

The Liberal Party has promised to give people a say, and to abolish the tax if elected. And should the Liberals under Abbott win — and win in the landslide that seems to be coming — no political figure in the country could credibly make the claim that a mandate to remove the tax did not exist.

(Never mind about any alleged difficulties in doing so; that is a matter for another discussion on policy in the future).

Now, the ALP seeks to nullify that too, and to say to people, in effect, that they can vote for whoever or whatever they like, but they — the MPs from the Labor Party, in conjunction with those fruit cakes over at the Communist Party Greens — would decide what they were given in return, irrespective of who formed the government to public had voted for.

This is dangerous ground, on so many levels.

Firstly — and most obviously — for the ALP to make this sort of stand over an issue it lied about so flagrantly, after losing an election over it as seems certain, betrays a complete contempt for democratic process.

Secondly, it sets a dangerous precedent: whilst the numbers in the Senate may be exercised in any way those who hold them see fit, even governments that have faced hostile Senate majorities in recent years — Howard from 1996 to 2004, Hawke and Keating for 13 years, Fraser in his last term, even Whitlam — have been permitted to pass the bulk of their legislative agendas, and certainly those aspects of them that were key to the platforms upon which they were elected.

What happens if a Labor opposition decides to block every bill introduced into the Senate by an Abbott government? Who is the legitimate arbiter of what is acceptable if the judgement of the people is unilaterally discarded, as Combet proposes to do?

But thirdly — and most importantly — what Combet has committed the ALP to bears no semblance whatsoever to the way government in this country runs; it is also, perversely, a twist of the knife in the backs of the unionists and battlers Labor claims to represent, trashing as it does such basic tenets of representative government for which the ALP fought as hard as anyone to establish in the first place.

Some of us in the blue corner of Australian politics half-wish the ALP implements such half-baked strategies when it makes its deserved return to opposition next year, as the self-inflicted damage on the Labor Party would be diabolical; by the same token, we also half-wish they don’t, because the potential for chaos and instability such moves would unleash in Australian society is unacceptable, and not something that should be inflicted on Australians in any circumstances.

Especially not by an aggrieved, humiliated band of democracy-smashing thugs masquerading as a parliamentary opposition, which is the status to which Labor apparently now aspires.

There is a relatively straightforward solution: if Queensland and Western Australia return the Coalition four of the six available Senate spots next year as seems increasingly possible, and if the Coalition retrieves the third Senator it dropped in each of SA and Tasmania in 2007, then it will hold 38 of the 76 Senate positions heading into government — 39, and a majority, if the DLP Senator opts to support the Coalition in government.

It remains to be seen whether Labor in opposition would carry out Combet’s threat.

But I certainly wouldn’t put it past them and, frankly, I wouldn’t expect them to try anything less.

Whether they do or not, the point remains that Combet’s remarks and his endorsement of them as Labor policy signal an ominous shift in the ALP’s political outlook, and it should alarm any interested person, be they to the Left or the Right, that a philosophy of political doctrine that would sit well under the leadership of Brezhnev and Andropov in the USSR is now being adopted by the Australian Labor Party.

The fact it sits well, and always has, with the Greens needs no further comment.

If the end result of Combet’s posturing on behalf of the ALP over the carbon tax is a double-dissolution election, the consequences for his party will be dire to the point of devastating.

But I think the real question this entire issue raises concerns the Senate, the way it is elected and is constituted, and the manner in which it discharges its constitutional brief.

And it’s an issue we will revisit in the next few days.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for that “principled policy” of the ALP, as articulated by Greg Combet; the Labor Party of 2012 and principles of anything other than the self-serving variety, uttered in the same sentence, are an oxymoron indeed.

Then again, the sun may rise in the west tomorrow…who’s to know?


Many Congratulations, Ma’am: God Save The Queen!

Yesterday, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated 60 years on the throne and her Diamond Jubilee as the constitutional monarch of 16 countries including Australia; her reign has been remarkable, and is second only to Queen Victoria in length.

I would like of course, firstly, to minute my warmest and fondest congratulations to Her Majesty on reaching this milestone; the present Queen is the only monarch I have ever known, being just shy of 40 years of age, and it says much about the constant she has been that even people my parents’ age in their early to mid-60s have little or no memory of her father, King George VI.

As an ardent and lifelong constitutional monarchist I am delighted to be able to see the Queen celebrate this anniversary; common sense dictates that it is unlikely she will be with us long enough to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee in ten years’ time, and so as much as this is a time for festivity and celebration, it is also a time for some reflection. I do wonder in passing if she will live long enough to surpass the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901) to become the longest-serving monarch  of the realm of all time.

Much has been made — in the United Kingdom, in Australia and elsewhere — of the prospect of one day replacing the present arrangement of a constitutional monarchy with a republic and a President, however so derived. The details vary from place to place but the sentiments are the same; even in Canada, where separatism, not republicanism, is the order of the day in Quebec, and the motivation for those French-Canadians to cut their ties with the hated British and strike out alone in their own, localised version of a Gallic republic.

I believe, and I always have believed, that the best interests of our own country at least lie with the present constitutional arrangements remaining in place, and with Australia eschewing republicanism on an indefinite basis.

Australia, along with New Zealand and Canada, are arguably the most successful of the  former British dominions now thriving as modern, vibrant, successful first-world countries; all are free, fair and tolerant, are democratic and stable, and each boasts its own rigorous identity in the world.

And all retain a system of constitutional monarchy, with the present Queen as Head of State.

Whilst Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, she is also Queen of Canada, Queen of New Zealand, Queen of Australia and so forth in the countries that retain the monarchical system. (Courtesy of one Joh Bjelke-Petersen and his antics in 1973, she is also recognised as “Queen of Queensland,” but that is another matter altogether).

When we look across the puddle to our neighbours in New Zealand, do we accuse those we see of tugging the forelock to Britain? When we consider our friends and allies in the splendid country of Canada, do we regard them as kowtowing to a foreign power? If we look around the world at other nations in the Commonwealth — many of which are of less fortunate circumstance than we in Australia — do we dismiss them as being subservient lickspittle?

Of course we don’t.

Yet this is the vituperative atmospheric of the so-called republican debate that went on in this country during the 1990s; its colourful invective — colourfully prosecuted by Paul Keating — may very well have animated many people, but in the end it was based on a false premise.

As was the entire republican case, based as it was on intellectual untruths, sloppy and misleading legalities, a typical attempt at brainwashing from those to the Left of the political spectrum, and an appeal to the subjective vanities rather than the considered sensibilities of the people republicans sought to coerce away from a constitutional monarchy.

And — shamefully — the republican campaign in Australia only ever organised itself in earnest when the opportunity presented to take advantage of problems within the House of Windsor: prior to 1992, and increasingly since the defeat of the referendum on the subject in 1999, the prevailing mood in Australia has not been typically conducive to serious consideration of abandoning the monarchy.

I remember as a very young boy — perhaps of 6 or 7 — being of the opinion that people called “Sir” had been given something by the Queen because they had done very well and she wanted to reward them; I, too, therefore aspired at that delicate age to what I soon enough learnt was a knighthood.

I remember, too, being mightily pissed off as a 14-year-old with Bob Hawke and his government for rescinding the awarding of knighthoods as part of the so-called reforms enacted in the Australia Act 1986 — and Hawke didn’t just rescind knighthoods for Australians under the British and Commonwealth honours system; he rescinded the provisions in the Order of Australia that allowed the granting of knighthoods under a purely Australian honours system, too.

(The Australia Act 1986 also extinguished the right of Australian citizens to exercise a final legal right of appeal beyond the High Court to the Privy Council: this, too, is something I have always viewed as a legal and moral travesty, but more on that — and the flip side — later).

For so many people, the question of monarchy versus republicanism is one based on affection or otherwise for the House of Windsor and the current monarchy, or on dislike for the British, or on half-baked notions of Australian nationalism behind which there is little or no substance and certainly nothing by way of corroboration except a lot of hot air and noise about an Australian-born Head of State. And about a confused concept of “cutting ties with Britain.”

It isn’t a subject I intend to cover at great length tonight: for one, we’d be here long enough for the Platinum Jubilee to roll around; two, I want to turn my comments back to the Queen; and three, the points I do intend to put on the table here are quite sufficient in terms of backing any republican into a corner with no way out. There are others, but these will do quite nicely for starters.

The first — and most obvious — of these is that we do, very simply, have an Australian Head of State: her name is Quentin Bryce and she is the Governor-General, and vice-regal representative, of Australia.

It seems lost on many that whilst the Queen is indeed the nominal Head of State in Australia, she remains so in a ceremonial capacity only; whilst Sections of the Constitution do certainly confer authority on the Queen to act in certain situations (such as the disallowance of a Bill, which we looked at some months ago in relation to the carbon tax), by convention, the Queen would almost certainly refuse to exercise such authority — even on the advice of her ministers.

If anyone doubts this, they should do some research on the former Governor of Queensland, Sir Colin Hannah — another Bjelke-Petersen stooge — including the circumstances in which she refused Bjelke-Petersen’s request to extend the tenure of Hannah’s commission, and the background and events leading to her refusal to do so.

If you’re a republican, it might be quite illuminating (or disheartening, depending on how one looks at it).

Even the “Labor bastard” who turned on Whitlam — Governor-General Sir John Kerr — did more to legitimise the role of Governor-General as the independent Head of State in Australia (as a link in the chain of a system of constitutional monarchy) than he ever did to legitimise republicanism; his actions set a modern precedent in which the Queen learnt of Kerr’s actions only after his termination of the Whitlam commission took effect, and did not subsequently intervene.

The events of 1975 are often held up by republicans as “evidence” and “conclusive proof” that the monarchy must be abandoned. I’ve never really understood why; no British people, and certainly not the Queen herself, were involved. Kerr’s actions represented a legitimate course within his legal responsibilities; were constitutionally sound and valid; and did exactly as was needed: to break a deadlock between the Houses of Parliament that existed at the time.

The constitution, and the monarchy, were not faulty; and to the extent the constitution may have been perceived as defective, it bears remembering that many Labor heroes at the turn of the century were instrumentally involved in its drafting alongside many conservative figures; if it contained or contains fault, those founding fathers share the responsibility.

The numbers in the Senate had certainly been modified in 1975 — by state Premiers in NSW and in Queensland. Of course, those numbers were used by Malcolm Fraser as he worked to smash the Whitlam government from office. But those actions, also, bear no reflection at all on the monarchy.

If the Labor Party and its acolytes did not like the outcome of 1975 and the Dismissal, that’s another matter altogether. But it is not one of constitutional monarchy.

Perhaps most instructive of all, though, are the lessons that lie in the aftermath of the passage of the Australia Act 1986; cursory they may be, but they offer the greatest pointer of all to the dangers of implementing a republic in this country.

What this Act did — according to its packet directions — was to remove forever the power of the UK Parliament to legislate with effect in Australia; never mind the end of knighthoods, and never mind (for now) about the abolition of access to the Privy Council.

The Australia Act 1986 in short achieved everything the republicans who followed some years later said (and say) they wish to achieve; clearly it is a nonsense to achieve the same thing twice, and so it is necessary to dig a little deeper to see what they really want. It is not necessary to dig very far.

The only real argument remaining open to republicans in any practical sense is the “Australian Head of State” one, with the references to “cutting ties to Britain.”

We’ll come back to ties with Britain later.

As I have already pointed out, we already have an Australian Head of State — the Governor-General — who acts independently of the Queen as a cog in the well-oiled machine that is our system of government within a constitutional monarchy.

Starting with the appointment of Sir Paul Hasluck to the role in the late 1960s by then Prime Minister John Gorton, the Governor-Generalship has been held by an Australian ever since. It is true Malcolm Fraser wanted to appoint Prince Charles to the post in 1982, but for obvious reasons that do not warrant the expenditure of space here, he was very quickly disabused of the idea.

The most obvious symbol of what republicans want — an “Australian President” — may in itself be impossible to realise; as the referendum in 1999 showed, those favouring a directly elected President flatly refused to accommodate those favouring a President chosen by Parliament. So trenchant were the two camps, and so strident their opposition to the other, that this conflict alone is likely irreconcilable.

But even if it were to be resolved, the Australia Act 1986 bequeathed this country a gift on account of its inherent abolition of the right of appeal to the Privy Council.

You see, readers, the highest Court in the land now is the High Court of Australia; and whilst its role is to interpret and adjudicate questions of law, its composition is based solely on the discretion of politicians.

For there to be a vacancy on the High Court, somebody has to die or retire; then, it is a simple question of the government of the day nominating a replacement whose appointment is rubber-stamped by Parliament.

Needless to say, the High Court has — at various times — been levelled with accusations of bias, and usually in favour of whoever has most recently spent an extended period in office at the federal level.

And for those readers who think directly elected judges are a good idea as an alternative, there are certain states in America which do precisely that, and are worldwide advertisements to others not to do anything of the kind.

So what if this system — a “President” elected by Parliament, or directly elected — were to be adopted in place of the Governor-General and a ceremonial monarch?

In short, Australia would be headed by either a political puppet or another politician respectively; the very nature of the role is such that it must be, and be seen to be, apolitical.

True, former politicians have held the post, Hasluck being one, and former ALP leader Bill Hayden another; yet neither discharged their duties in a manner inconsistent with the requirements of the office.

And if you look at the High Court, the record of its rulings and its case history, and analyse these in any detail, then you may be in a position to make a valid call on whether or not you think Australia ought to become a republic.

Because if you don’t like what the High Court has done over the past thirty years, the chances are that you won’t like what becomes of this country if it becomes a republic.

I believe everyone is entitled to their view; I am equally entitled to my opinion — which is the whole point this column exists, and those opinions, if they spark debates as they have done to date, have proven to be of value even to those who may disagree.

I do think republicans are wrong at the most basic and fundamental levels; and for as long as this country’s present arrangements continue, with Parliament operating in a constitutional monarchy, then the better off Australia will be.

This brings me back to the Queen.

This remarkable woman has been a distinguished world leader for decades; modest, dignified, strictly apolitical, she has been a source of advice and counsel for many of her Prime Ministers and other Heads of Government (including Australia), and has been a symbol of stability in a world which has, especially in recent years, changed so very much.

She and her family retain great affection for, and great links to, Australia; indeed, the Queen has visited here many times during her reign; the future King Charles even lived in Australia for a time, attending boarding school near Geelong in the 1960s.

And this in turn brings me to that other sacred pillar of republican faith: the “need” to cut ties with Britain.

Why should we ever do that? Modern Australia and modern Britain are very similar in many respects; we share similar societies based on similar systems and traditions, and those societies share the same similar problems that go with them.

Indeed, Britain and the British people are the most like us of anyone else in the world; we share similar cultures and ways of life; we are among each other’s most important trading partners; we share common interests, opportunities and threats.

I’m very much in favour of building ties and relationships in Asia, and especially in maintaining and expanding those we enjoy with the United States; but not at the cost of the existing ties and friendships we already have, and never at the expense of those we share with the United Kingdom, and the history and tradition that accompany them.

As for the Queen herself, once the pomp and pageantry and celebration of the Jubilee has subsided, this splendid lady with her well-known preference for simplicity will no doubt enjoy some time privately with those around her, and reflect too on all she has seen in 60 years on the throne; from the young princess thrust into the role after the death of her father when the free world was struggling to recover from its war effort, to the better yet more dangerously complicated place that world is today.

My hat is off to you, ma’am, and I salute you: many, many congratulations on the achievement of your Diamond Jubilee, and long may you reign over us for many years to come.

God Save The Queen!