Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Carbon Tax ... It's all in the Timing!

I don’t know about you but I spent most of ‘Carbon Sunday’ glued to the TV, channel surfing between ABC News 24 and Sky News. It was riveting TV for a political junkie like me.
So what do you make of all this carbon tax stuff?
I have formed some views during the past few months culminating in the announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard last Sunday week.
First of all regardless of whether we believe the planet is warming due to human activity, in the long term it is of great benefit all round to consume less and pollute less. This part is a no-brainer.
global warming pollution 300x199 Bernies Brief
Second, it seems inevitable that the world as a whole will eventually implement policies which result in lower CO2 emissions. The only question is ‘When?’.
Third, the Carbon Tax policy announced by Julia Gillard on July 10, has more to do with politics and staying in Government in than with reducing CO2 emissions. This is evident by the fact that Ms Gillard was one of the four kitchen cabinet members under former PM Kevin Rudd who pushed for a shelving of the previous emissions trading scheme until some time in the future. Prime Minister Gillard then stated a few days before the 2010 election that there would be no carbon tax.
Fast forward to February 2011 and the Prime Minister announces that there will now be a carbon tax. This is the price of forming a minority government with the Greens. My question is would a carbon tax have been announced if Labor had won government in it’s own right??

Fourth, the major CO2 emitters of USA, China and India have not committed to any serious CO2 reduction scheme. In fact the US has completely abandoned its proposed cap and trade scheme.

Fifth, Imposing a carbon tax in Australia will not make the slightest difference to global CO2 emissions in the absence of the major world economies joining in.
Sixth, How is over compensating consumers going to change behaviours? It actually amounts to bribing people to consume more.
Seventh, To impose a carbon tax of $23/tonne on the Australian economy at a time of low consumer confidence and a seriously slowing economy apart from mining, not to mention the serious state of the US, UK, EU and Japanese economies, is sheer madness.
Finally, to further prove the point that this is more about politics than saving the planet, if you did happen to witness the proceedings on Carbon Sunday, you would have seen Greens Leader Bob Brown and his deputy Christine Milne grinning like a pair of Cheshire cats who had just swallowed a flock of canaries and who had all their birthdays and Christmases come at once. They were the happiest people in town and that in itself is a cause to be concerned.
That’s not to say Tony Abbott’s proposed direct action scheme is any better, in fact it is more expensive and still may not have the desired effect.
The main issue is the timing and mechanics of the government’s carbon tax relative to the rest of the world. We are very small players in the world economy (remember Copenhagen?) and our CO2 emissions are less than 2% of global emissions.
However, the proposed tax at this time, I feel, risks causing serious damage to a seriously slowing economy, albeit one which survived the GFC, and that’s the real worry. There is a time and place for everything. It may be a good idea in principle but this is not the time for a carbon tax in Australia.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Moooo .... ! Don't Worry, Be Happy

I was hoping to write about real estate today, but there is not really that much to say that you don’t already know. In short, the market is pretty flat nationally with Western Australia and Queensland faring worst.

However, there is a glimmer that things may be turning around: my phone actually rang once last week and it has rung three times so far this week and it is still only Thursday.

Much more interesting is the government’s amazing solution to our live cow exports… our cows can now relax in the knowledge that they will be asleep when their throats are cut.

According to world standards, stunning is not mandatory, even in Australia, and despite everything else, not much is going to change in Indonesia.

All our cattle exported to Indonesia will now have to be tracked electronically from the paddock to the plate, as it were, and Australian producers will be responsible for the cost of such tracking and auditing.

The government has generously offered around $30 million to the cattle industry as assistance (read compensation) but in the context of a $300 million industry it should keep them in bread and milk for a week or so.

Kevin, (…. I’m from Queensland…) obviously took my advice and flew up to Jakarta and sweet talked the Indonesians, but the damage done diplomatically and economically is a very sad reflection of the incompetence of some or our government ministers.

Regardless of what one may think of live exports there are intelligent and appropriate ways of doing things and in my humble view the government failed miserably on both counts.

Now do we just wait for the next fiasco? ….

Rest assured we won’t have long to wait! Carbon Tax comes to mind…. stay tuned for my thoughts on that hot issue!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Meine Deutshe Familie

As I have already written I travelled to Germany at the end of May to attend the 65th Wedding Anniversary of my Polish Aunty Elizabeth and Uncle Gerhard.

Aunty and Uncle were lucky enough to escape from communist Poland, together with their son Klaus, in 1965. They settled in (West) Berlin and have been in the same apartment ever since. Uncle is now 90 and Aunty is 87, and, as you’d expect their respective bodies are showing definite signs of wear and tear.
Hilde, Klaus, Uncle, Aunty & Me

The actual day of celebration was June 2, and there was a service at the local church in the morning followed by a late lunch in the afternoon. It was a memorable occasion in itself, but more so for me as I was able to reconnect with first cousin Klaus and his wife Hilde, as well as Klaus’ children Patrick, Mandy and Scarlett and their spouses and their children, my third cousins.

I also got to meet, for the first time my late father’s second cousin, Graszina who is Polish but has lived in Denmark for the past twenty years or so with her husband Robert and daughter Sandra.

As I looked around the gathering and stumbled my way through conversations in very basic German and English, I felt that here was my own flesh and blood. There was that real and unique sense of family.

It was the same feeling I’d had at a breakfast we’d attended just before I left at my brother Paul and his wife Regina's house in Perth.  Present were my sister Elaine, brother Philip as well as nieces Maria and Emily and nephew Phil, (Paul’s children) and their spouses and children. I’d also caught up with Kendal and Carly, Philip’s daughters over that weekend.

And I haven’t even mentioned my own children and stepchildren, Chantelle and Melissa, Melanie and Chris and brothers and nieces who could not be there.

The thing is, this thing we call family is more extensive than we think and it’s a great feeling to be part of an extensive and expanding family.

Imagine if there were no one to connect with, even if it is only once a year (or five years in the case of the German side).

It is indeed a fortunate life.