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49 responses to “Saturday Salon – Bah Humbug edition”

  1. paul burns
  2. eilish

    That’s a very charitable attitude, paul burns. Stupidity rather than malice motivates them. The notion that the pair of them completely forgot about one of the few minority groups in our society that have wealth and influence and are now sweating it out is causing me to chortle over my keyboard. I like the idea that Brandis is now frantically trying to find out how you say “whoopsie -nana” in Hebrew.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-21/aboriginal-shareholders-driven-off-land-by-soaring-rents/5170894
    When you read about the history of the mission at Lake Tyers, and how persistently white authorities have tried to shut it down (tourist dollars) this seems like more of the same. Set up a lease system, systematically financially disadvantaged people fail to pay rent, end of lease.
    I sometimes wish the folks had chosen NZ instead of AUS.

  3. Paul Norton

    On Friday I learned that dipsomaniacs in Coolangatta can, thanks to daylight saving, walk across the border at 7am and get a hair of the dog at Dolphins in Tweed Heads.

  4. Kevin Rennie

    By coincidence, I finished Anita Heiss’ Am I Black Enough For You? Topical indeed. Recommended summer reading!

  5. Terry2

    Greg Hunt has said in the last few days that Labor is being a Christmas ‘grinch’ by not allowing the repeal of the carbon tax through the Senate and thus slugging Australian families with an additional $550 on their electricity bills.

    Well, I have just received my electricity bill from Ergon where it is flagged in red ink that ‘ the Federal carbon price and renewable energy target add about $259 to a typical 6.3 MWh household bill’.
    So Ergon just covering their backsides or Hunt spinning ?

    But it’s not all ‘Labor Grinch’, as the delay in passing the MRRT repeal act and its add-ons means that families will continue to receive the school kids bonus for 2014.

  6. paul burns

    Terry2 @ 5,
    I suspect Ergon are being somewhat disingenuous. The Carbon Tax costs practically nothing and we are re-imbursed for it by Government one way or another, usually with more money than we paid out.
    The renewable energy target is a different beast. As customers engage with renewable energy, as I understand it, they come off the grid, and make savings in their electricity bills. Ergon etc no longer get paid for this electricity. To compensate for this loss of income companies like Ergon up the electricity prices to individual customers still on the grid. So customers are paying for the company’s lost profits. Capitalism at work.
    I think I have this right. If not can somebody please correct me.

  7. Val

    Paul b @ 6

    Not quite Paul – others can probably explain it better than me, but most people don’t go off the grid. They use their own solar energy when the sun is shining, and energy from the grid when it’s not. If they generate more than they need (like me) during the day that goes into the grid for others to use. Nowadays here in vic we have a low seen in tarrif of 8c per kWh so the companies are not paying much at all for that energy.

    John D in particular can probably explain the intricacies of elec pricing, but that claim sounds like complete BS to me! Maybe a case for the elec ombudsman?

  8. Val

    ‘Feed in tarrif’ sorry

  9. GregM

    I suspect Ergon are being somewhat disingenuous. The Carbon Tax costs practically nothing and we are re-imbursed for it by Government one way or another, usually with more money than we paid out.

    Paul if that were the case it would be bad policy. The carbon tax is designed to induce consumers to use less of carbon based commodities, electricity and fuel. If it costs practically nothing to the consumer it will not induce the required change in behaviour and therefore not achieve its purpose.

    If we are reimbursed for it with more money than we have paid out then that means that the government is drawing on other taxes, or deficit spending, to provide that reimbursement. That too is bad policy.

  10. paul burns

    Thanks, Val.

  11. Terry2

    Thanks Val that seems right to me.

    I was lucky enough to install my solar when Labor were in office in Qld (and federally) and we still get 44 cents on the feed-in tariff (I know, crazy isn’t it ) but new installations are at 8 cents and, under LNP who see solar as a Greens’ plot to undermine the coal industry, feed-in tariffs will be repealed altogether next year unless you are already on one ( I think).

  12. Graham Bell

    eilish @ 2:
    Why the surprise? That’s just typical land re-stealing. Don’t tell me you still believe that “Law” and “justice” are synonyms.

  13. zoot

    If we are reimbursed for it with more money than we have paid out then that means that the government is drawing on other taxes …

    Like the revenue from the carbon “tax”?
    You seem to have fallen for Dear Leader’s lie that the carbon “tax” is applied directly to the consumer.

  14. Brian

    There’s more on solar tariffs in Climate clippings 90, just published.

  15. Val

    GregM @ 9
    You only receive more in reimbursement for the impact of the carbon price on household electricity bills if you are a low income earner (or maybe low to median or mean, I don’t have exact figures). This was so the impact of the tax was not regressive, and was recommended by Garnaut.

    Moreover these are two separate mechanisms: you receive the higher bill and receive the compensation separately. I presume this was intended to ensure people are still encouraged to moderate their household energy use, although it probably has the unfortunate side effect that many people probably don’t associate the two any more.

    The carbon price added less than ten per cent to average bills, however people are also confused as there are have been higher rises, mainly associated with infrastructure.

    I have been surprised how little educated people (apparently including yourself) know about this. I suppose the poisonous political climate of the last few years has something to do it.

    The carbon price, and the associated mechanisms such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority, have made a promising start in reducing emissions from the energy sector. It is a shame that we have such a wrecker government and that educated people haven’t taken the time to understand this and defend it.

    Apologies if I sound unseasonably stern, I have had a bereavement in the family. I don’t want to talk about it further here and now, but it is sad.

    Brian I hope this doesn’t replicate the new post. I assumed because you said it was about feed in tariffs it didn’t cover the carbon price, but I must admit I haven’t checked first.

  16. Brian

    Val, that’s fine. Your comment is better placed here.

  17. Bernard J.

    So the home insulation Royal Commission starts today…

    To save time, why don’t we commence now the future Royal Commission into the LNP’s denial of and inaction on the importance of reducing human fossil carbon emissions?

  18. paul burns

    Rudd and Garrett should put aside their enmity and hold a press conference where both declare they will not appear before Abbott’s witch-hunt pink batts commission. If summoned they will refuse and go to gaol for contempt.
    I reckon Abbott would shut it down pretty down quick if they called his bluff like that.

  19. Chris

    Merry Xmas from the LNP!

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-23/government-defends-plans-to-alter-disability-support-pension/5171914

    Paul @ 18 – Can’t a Royal Commission legally compel people to appear before them?

    The carbon price added less than ten per cent to average bills, however people are also confused as there are have been higher rises, mainly associated with infrastructure.

    If Abbott manages to repeal the carbon tax this is going to end up biting him too as people are unlikely to see a drop in the electricity bills.

  20. paul burns

    Chris,
    They can. That would be the point of Rudd and Garrett refusing. They would be declared in contempt of the Commission and gaoled until they agreed to appear. If they were kept in gaol for a week or so Abbott would be in real political trouble. Of course neither of them would even think of it, let alone have the courage to do it.

  21. eilish

    Graham @ 12
    Dad: take a break from picking fights with lefties on the InterNet. It’s nearly Christmas. I knew getting you an iPad was a bad idea.

    re: the Disability pension. This must be what Tony means about working through Christmas. There’s not a whole lot of people they have left to do over, though. The Boxing Day announcement will consist of whatever Minister kicking a guide dog.

    The Pink Batts Commission will find out what we already know: employers broke Health and Safety laws, their employees died, everyone should be in a union. Thanks Tony!

  22. Chris

    Paul @ 20 – I don’t see why that would get Abbott in trouble. It wouldn’t be him enforcing putting Rudd or Garrett in gaol but the commission which is run independently of the government.

    If anything I think Rudd or Garrett would look like they have something to hide and I don’t think it would set a good example of how people should treat Royal Commissions whether you like them or not. What would you think of someone refusing to appear at the Royal Commission into institutional sexual abuse?

    Eilish – it could come back to bite the Abbott government because it may set a precedent on how governments are judged not only what they do directly, but how responsible they should be for reasonable forseeable but unintended consequences which they do not directly control – sort of collateral damage from government policy.

  23. eilish

    A good news item every day from the LNP!
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-23/nib-to-lift-health-insurance-premiums-by-nine-per-cent/5172326

    Chris: I would like to see it biting Abbott : having to put in place a system to monitor the OHS standards and training practices of every business in the country doing govt projects before they get off the ground is going to shit business owners and cost a packet. Probably another one of those things he and the other boys on the dispatch box side of the House haven’t really thought about.
    Seriously: Rudd was supposed to prevent employers breaking the law with a mobile squad of inspectors in helicopters? Was he responsible for all the deaths due to OHS breaches or just the ones in insulation?
    Like I said, fantastic news for the unions.

  24. paul burns

    Chris @ 22,
    I take your point, especially re the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse.
    But Labor should be screaming to the rooftop that the pink batts Royal Commission, given all the other enquiries, is nothing but a witch-hunt.

  25. Moz of Yarramulla

    pb: I like to think the ALP are playing a long game here, as mentioned above. If they can snap it down to dodgy contractors and not enough regulation they’re set up for every single government project, every government-regulated industry and so on. “the royal commission said… and what are you doing? When will you implement the results? How many deaths are on you, Mr Abbott”. The kindergarten on the hill will have a field day, and Mrs Bishop’s whip is strictly metaphorical. Although it is a good idea 🙂

  26. Craig Mc

    If summoned they will refuse and go to gaol for contempt.

    Well, we know Rudd will think he deserves the top bunk.

  27. Some Dude

    The carbon tax is designed to induce consumers to use less of carbon based commodities, electricity and fuel. If it costs practically nothing to the consumer it will not induce the required change in behaviour and therefore not achieve its purpose.

    Assume that a household consumes 500 units of energy per year, and carbon-based energy is $10 per unit and solar is $11 per unit. The average household will then choose to by 500 units of carbon-based energy, and zero units of solar-based energy, for a total spend of $5000/yr.

    Then the gummint introduces a carbon tax of 20%, so now carbon-based energy is $12/unit. The energy costs for an average household are now $6000/yr, an increase of $1000/yr. Oh noes! Worse off! But the gummint also increases tax credits for the average household of $1000/yr, so they can spend the $6000/yr and are no worse off.

    But a rational household would take that $1000 and buy 500 units of solar at $11/unit, for a total spend of $5500, and pocket the $500 difference. Win!

  28. Moz of Yarramulla

    Some [email protected]: you say “household” but you appear to mean “economically rational unit with no foresight”, much as some economists do when they forget that money is a proxy for happiness, not the thing being maximised.

  29. John D

    Some [email protected] 27: The main benefit of the carbon tax is that it is a tax that provides badly needed revenue for the government to spend. Any effects it has on behaviour is a bonus.

  30. paul burns

    Apropos of Graham Bell’s comment on Xmas thread re violence in the streets.
    It has got worse. Graham, the experts seem to think its because drinkers combine drinking with speed or methamphetamine, which leads to mindless violence. Though there is a cohort who are sober when they king-hit some-one. I know its been going on for some time now, and I have no idea where it comes from; some guys, and it is mostly men, though there is an increasing incidence of acts of violence by women, just seem to get their jollies that way. I really do put it down to being born stupid. Its the only explanation, since the self-interest of not injuring someone so badly you end up in gaol should really kick in there, shouldn’t it, people, if nothing else?
    The use of knives is something that’s relatively new, too. Twenty-five to thirty years ago you were despised if you resorted to a knife in a fight.
    I think it might be because people have a nihilistic view of of the future – ie life is always going to be same hopeless old shit till the day you die and that’s it. The underclass/lumpenproletariat of 18C England, to take one area I know well, were equally mindlessly violent, and equally mired in hopelessness.
    Add to that our present generation is faced with the exceedingly pessimistic prospect that the power elites are killing planet Earth, and would rather let the planet die than take a drop in their profits, no wonder some of them see no future.

  31. Val

    Paul b @ 30
    I think there are two things you should look at – first, the available statistical information eg police records. I’ve seen many suggestions that violence has actually gone down overall over the course of the last century, though different types may go up. It also has to do with whether violence is reported or not – eg in the past domestic violence was often not reported and not recorded when it was reported.

    The second thing is the Wilkinson and Pickett data on inequality- violence is one of the social indicators that is most clearly linked with income inequality http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk

    So if street violence is going up it is worth bearing this in mind. I remember seeing some data in Melbourne a few years ago, when there was a lot of violence around the Kings Street night cub area, that showed a disproportionate amount of violence being committed by young men from poorer outer suburbs with high unemployment rates etc.

    One more reason to protest against growing inequality – even if our voices seem to be ignored at times.

  32. Graham Bell

    Thanks for that well-considered noet on violence, Paul Burns @30.

    Hadn’t thought about feelings of hopelessness and despair – feeling that would be useful marketing tools for the dealers in street drugs and the purveyors of legal alcohol alike – take this and you will feel better / be more likeable / be happier..

    Spot on about knife-wielders being despised and detested back in the bad old days. Same went for firearms – I recall one dangerous incident when the bod who produced an illegal pocket pistol (probably a .25″ or a .22″) was ridiculed out of the place with everybody’s abuse and by cat-calls about him being “Hopalong Cassidy” (the hero of black-&-white “cowboy”movies and of comics who carried a “six-gun”) and by several unrepeatable references to his manhood and courage – or lack thereof. I suppose he could have fired at people at random but he didn’t; he just bolted …. and had to endure snide remarks for a long time afterwards; never saw that pistol again.

  33. paul burns

    Val,
    Its more that its a different kind of violence nowadays. Not that long ago, you’d get the occasional drunken king-hit in a pub – maybe once every five years or so.
    In the 60s and 70s to a certain extent speed was frowned upon. The hippies had a slogan – Speed Kills – and most people heeded it. The few speed-freaks I’ve known were all prone to violence, men and women, high or straight, and I gather ice is about 100 times worse. I’ve never seen or met anyone on ice, so I can only go from what I see on TV or read in the papers.
    Domestic violence is more frequently reported nowadays, but there are still too many women who keep quiet about it and live in fear, while street violence, anonymous savage assaults on strangers, resulting in serious injury or death, appears to be on the increase, if that’s not newspaper hype.

  34. paul burns

    In the 70s in King’s Cross I saw a few guns flashed by career criminals. They weren’t the kind of people you made fun of, ever.

  35. Sceptic

    Regarding violent street attacks, I think there is something to observations about hopelessness and despair and probably fueled by drugs and alcohol.

    Such feelings breed self hatred which is directed outwards.

    I think the young men who are attacking other young men in such brutal, unprovoked attacks remind me of the resentful types who linked up with the Brown Shirts.

    As a society we seem to respect and encourage aggression, by men not women. We see belligerence everywhere, in our politicians, media personalities and sportsmen. Such he-men.

    I find that behaviour disturbing, inane, brutish, callow, boring and dispiriting and utterly charmless.

  36. Paul Norton

    The orange chicken is quite unwell. We have come up with a diagnosis of egg yolk peritonitis, and given her a dose of amoxicillin and placed her in a clean box in a room where heat stress will be less of a problem.

  37. Graham Bell

    Sceptic @35;
    Agree about aggression and belligerence being encouraged. It is even rewarded.

    I no longer bother watching football because I can still remember when it was a game of skill, striving, speed and superb teamwork.
    Now, it is all about celebrity thugs and their tantrums, the game itself is secondary and the opposing team is served up as The Hated Enemy. The whole show is sick!

    I don’t bother watching bully shows on TV either. I get no pleasure out of watching “losers(??)” being humiliated and insulted – nor do I see any fun in watching utter dorks being served up as “winners(??)”.

    Parliament is even worse.

    So what does all this encouragement of aggression, belligerence, bullying and violence say about the lack of resilience in our society?
    How much has it weakened our military/defence capability? (Paradoxically, the more violent soldiers are, the easier they become targets – just ask the Nazis, they found out the hard way).

  38. paul burns
  39. paul burns

    If you want to see a stoush to end all stoushes go to the comments for the article on today’s The Conversation on Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. (I only know about because I made a brief comment that I would find a movie of non-stop sexual activity boring. After which I started to get all these e-mailed comments in my in box. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it, not on LP anyway.

  40. Chris

    Paul @ 38 – the more I read about the scheme, the more I think the whole thing should just be reset. A large chunk of the money was allocated to a single provider while many other missed out. The money was distributed on a first come, first serve basis and the larger childcare companies who had been working with government on the design of the scheme had their applications submitted within hours, whereas many of the smaller community run ones couldn’t react that fast so missed out. It doesn’t sound like a fair process to me.

  41. Moz of Yarramulla

    [email protected]: it does seem to have been set up deliberately so as to cause friction whatever happened. I suspect that if they’d won Rudd Labour would have gone “oh noes, the budget is all used up, sorry”, but you never know. It’s one area where I suspect Gillard would have said “it’s education. Fund it. Stop whining” to her treasurer.

  42. paul burns
  43. Chris

    Moz @ 41 – yea I think a government should decide either to decide to fund it properly or not at all. At the funding process itself had at the very least the appearance of being seriously flawed (what would we say if a Liberal government announced government funding that primarily went to corporate friends of the government?)

    Paul @ 42 – I was very surprised to read that current bulk billing rates are around 80% – though that is by number of services, not by patient and may be pushed up from a large number of services from a small number of low income people or those with ongoing health problems. Because my impression was that bulk billing wasn’t that common any more except for those on pensions or have health care cards.

    Where people are already paying a gap I suspect this co-payment will just divert money from the GPs (perhaps one reason they are opposing it). FWIW I don’t really have a problem with those on higher incomes (or have high amount assets) having to make a co-payment because they can afford it and $5 won’t change their decisions around going to a GP or not. But I can see there are slipperly slope type arguments and it seems quite unreasonable for those on low incomes.

  44. Moz of Yarramulla

    [email protected]: I suggest reading about the effect of co-pays before getting too keen. Insofar as they work they do so by pushing poor people into emergency wards. The cost saving is strictly apparent, and again, insofar as it’s real it’s a deferred payment scheme – people don’t go to the GP now, they go to the hospital next financial year. And if you exempt certain poor people from the co-pay that just makes the actual victims harder to point out (hence the popularity of limited exemptions). But if you’re willing to deny emergency care to poor people it’s very effective.

  45. Moz of Yarramulla

    In good news, it looks as though we finally have enough money saved for a deposit and can start house-hunting in the new year. I shall be applying for the appropriate license (what sort of gun do you need for house hunting?) and begin walking westwards until I reach the mythical utopia of “less insanely expensive houses in Sydney”.

  46. Chris

    Moz @ 44 – well that’s why I suggested co-pays would only be for higher income people. In practice though my suspicion would be most higher income people already effectively have a co-pay because they don’t get bulk billed. I think the vast majority of GPs around where I live do not bulk bill unless the person can demonstrate they are on a low income, or its an unusual situation – eg seeing their GP a lot. Whilst a co-pay might save the government some money, if it comes from taking it from GPs I don’t think that’s a huge gain.

    I don’t see that higher income earners would go to emergency to save $5. I think the main reason that they’d end up in emergency is the lack of GP clinics which are open 24/7 – one thing I don’t understand is why GP clinics are not co-located with hospitals. Surely that would be a much cheaper option than treating non urgent patients in emergency.

    begin walking westwards until I reach the mythical utopia of “less insanely expensive houses in Sydney”.

    Walk west and a bit south until you get to Adelaide. Much cheaper housing here 🙂

  47. paul burns

    Chris @ 43,
    The trouble with any co-payment of bulk billing is that its a Trojan horse. The Libs have never believed in a National Health System. Menzies opposed it and stopped it when Chifley tried to bring it in. Howard hated it and did all he could to destroy it by stealth with his attempts to force people 30 or under into private health cover., and all his other little attempts to whittle it away. Its no saving grace that Abbott is up front about it. All that proves is what we already know – the man’s a fool. He’s also in a rush since he knows that his supportive Senate majority commencing next July, will go at the next Federal election.

  48. Tim Macknay

    He’s also in a rush since he knows that his supportive Senate majority commencing next July, will go at the next Federal election.

    Judging by the recent polling in Western Australia, he may not even get that supportive majority.

  49. paul burns

    Now wouldn’t that be a lovely New Year’s present. I’d read about that but it wasn’t clear to me how the numbers might turn out – more Green and Labor = balance of power? PUP and its acolytes down the tube? Can’t wait.
    Labor with BoP would be better than PUP, surely, trouble is you never know what and when they’d sell out.