Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baillieu Government set to renege on election promise of 20 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions

I would like to share the following from Climate Code Red in light of the recent report in the The Age that the Baillieu Government is considering dumping the states plan to cut Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent over the next decade. It is noteworthy that many of the commentators who fire up the most about the significance of Julia Gillard’s ‘no carbon tax’ statement are conspicuous by their absence when a Liberal Government changes a position it took to an election, especially when it waters down action on climate.

·         While government support to renewable power sources is subject to seemingly endless media and political scrutiny, the 500% larger subsidies given to oil, gas and coal rarely get much attention.
·         Worldwide, governments and taxpayers spent $409 billion in 2010 supporting the production and consumption of fossil fuels, three-quarters of which went to the oil industry. 
·         Just 8% of that $409 billion went to the poorest 20% of the population
·         Global subsidies for fossil fuel consumption are set to reach $660 billion in 2020 unless reforms are passed to effectively eliminate this form of state aid, according to International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol.
·         Eliminating fossil fuel consumption subsidies by 2020 would cut global energy demand by 4 percent, cutting demand for oil by 3.7million  barrels a day.
·         Dropping subsidies could slow growth in CO2 emissions by 1.7bn tonnes a year, equivalent to the total emissions of the UK, Germany, Italy and France.
·         In Australia, the SMH reported that taxpayers spend about 11 times more encouraging the use of fossil fuels than on climate change programs. Fossil fuel incentives and subsidies will cost about $12.2 billion this financial year in Australia, compared with $1.1 billion spent on programs designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and boost research.
It’s hardly as though big oil needs the cash. The five biggest oil companies made a record-high $137 billion in profits in 2011, and have made more than $1 trillion in profits from 2001 through 2011. And for every $1 spent on lobbying in Washington, the big five received $30 worth of tax breaks.
On 24 January 2012, Independent US Senator Bernie Sanders pledged to introduce legislation to repeal federal tax breaks and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, declaring at a Capitol Hill rally that "the most profitable corporations in the world do not need subsidies from the American people."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Australian Financial Review's ‘Brave New World’

The Australian Financial Review of 6 March had a wraparound front cover with the headline “First we revolutionised the Price. Now we’re revolutionising the Agenda.” The two page colour spread below the headline appeared to be a graphic of the Fin Review’s idea of Australia. I found it a very troubling picture.

It was entirely devoid of any Australian wildlife. There were no Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus, Lyrebirds, Echidnas or Platypus. There were no birds or animals or reptiles at all. In one sense this was scarcely surprising, because the picture of mines, industry, agriculture and infrastructure left no room for them – they cannot survive in an Australia without forests and grasslands and waterways and wildlife corridors.

But it is a barren Australia, totally stripped of the natural beauty which has been such a source of joy and inspiration to Australians and visitors for hundreds of years.

The Financial Review’s accompanying words refer to a clean environment, but surely an environment without birds and plants and animals would be a sterile nightmare. I hope the omission was inadvertent.

Australian War Graves desecrated in Libya

Tuesday 6th March 2012/ac

Australian War Graves desecrated in Libya

I was shocked and appalled to see footage of Australian War Graves being desecrated in Libya.

Footage of violent extremists smashing and violating Australian War Graves is highly disrespectful to those brave Australian servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of Libya from aggression during the Second World War.

More than 1000 servicemen who lost their lives in the Western Desert wars in 1942 and 1943 are buried at the site, including at least 55 Australians.

The sacrifice of these young servicemen allowed us all to enjoy the freedom and liberty that many of us today now take for granted. Their vision of a just world was not unlike the vision the rebels in Libya had to liberate them from the tyranny of Colonel Gaddafi. Many of the same countries who helped Libya in 1942 and 1943 came to their aid again last year.

Religious fanaticism and fundamentalism never bring about a better world. People who think their religious beliefs entitle them to violence against members of their own families, members of their communities, or people of different beliefs, are totally and utterly wrong and must be resisted at every turn. The perpetrators of this horrific behaviour must be brought to justice.

Kelvin Thomson MP
Federal Member for Wills

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Workers Who Are Experiencing Domestic Violence Should Be Supported

Gary Johns in an article titled “Social work not employer’s business” (The Australian, 16 February 2012) advocates against employers providing support for victims of domestic violence by claiming that domestic violence is not a work related issue and that “production related costs (of domestic violence) are avoidable by hiring a new worker”.

I believe Mr Johns has not availed himself of all the facts on this issue.

Safe at Home, Safe at Work? National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey, which had over 3600 respondents, highlights the impact of domestic violence in the workplace and clearly demonstrates that domestic violence is a workplace issue that affects safety and productivity.

Thirty percent of respondents, working people, had experienced domestic violence. Domestic violence had affected the capacity of 15% to get to work, with workers being physically restrained, keys hidden or phones smashed. For one in five workers experiencing domestic violence, their partner or ex-partner continued to abuse them by turning up at their workplace or by making abusive phone calls or emails.

Workplaces who support workers experiencing domestic violence by providing leave to attend court for a protection order, by developing safety plans to stop the abuse at work, and by being decent caring people, do make a difference to people trying to stay in their homes and in their jobs through the crisis.

I believe workers who experience domestic violence should be supported in their workplace, and I would encourage employers to do so not only because it is the right thing to do, but also to promote higher morale and productivity in the workplace.