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An Open Letter to WA Senator Michaelia Cash, regarding the Carbon Tax

Dear Senator Cash,

My partner recently received your lovely little screed in the mail - the one about the carbon tax and how this is going to cost local employers and local industries vast amounts of money, and leave them vulnerable to excessive competition from overseas interest. You cited a total of ten companies which employed people in the electorate of Brand (or, more specifically, on the Kwinana industrial strip) by name. Curious, I decided to do a little bit of research on the internet.

Of the ten firms your leaflet mentioned by name, precisely two are actually based and headquartered here in Western Australia (Wesfarmers and Coogee Chemicals - both of which are fairly large companies). Of the rest, six are owned pretty much entirely by multi-national corporations. The other two are Australian-based, but one is based in Queensland, and the other is based in Melbourne.

To give you a quick run-down of the rest:

* BHP-Billiton is a joint Australian-Dutch company (so no, it's no longer the Big Australian, and you'll notice BHP-Billiton doesn't use that slogan any more);
* Alcoa is an alumininum mining and refining multinational firm, with the overall headquarters for the company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;
* Tiwest is a joint-venture between two Australian subsiduary companies of two different multinational firms - Tronox Incorporated (USA) and Exxaro Resources Limited (South Africa);
* BOC is part of the Linde Group, a large German-based multinational corporation;
* Air Liquide is part of the Air Liquide group, a multinational corporation first incorporated in France, and headquartered in Paris;
* Bradken (while having a wholly Australian company name) is actually owned by a combination of Castle-Harlan Australian Mezzanine Partners (a subsiduary of Castle Harlan, a US-based private equity firm); ESCO Corporation (US owned and based multinational) and Bradken Management (as minority shareholders);

Forgive me for seeming sceptical, but aren't these multi-national corporations exactly the sorts of international competition that your leaflet is implying our local industries and employers will be attempting to match? Given this information, I doubt they'll be having huge amounts of trouble.

(Incidentally, finding all this information took me approximately thirty minutes all up. It's amazing what you can find out from the internet. The information was on the websites of the companies concerned - all it took was a few seconds on google to find each one).

I took a look down the rest of the list of "facts" you provided, and noticed you failed to mention the various tax offsets which were planned (an important part of the carbon tax package) in order to compensate average Australian householders for the increased expense. Since these offsets and compensation are being introduced at the same time as the carbon tax, not mentioning them seems a little disingenuous, to say the least. Particularly since energy bills (both domestic and industrial) in WA have already risen by at least 10% thanks to the actions of the (Liberal) state government.

You failed to mention whether carbon emissions will continue to be rising by the same amount under a carbon tax package as is currently forecast. You failed to mention whether overall carbon emissions per capita will be rising, falling, or remaining steady (and whether there are any changes expected in the size of the Australian population between now and 2020 as well). You fail to mention whether the rise in carbon emissions overall between now and 2020 (from 578 million tonnes to 621 million tonnes) will be a greater or lesser rise than the equivalent period between 2002 and now.

Your leaflet also fails to mention anywhere (a grievous omission, given your final "fact") that you, in fact, represent the political party which gave the Australian political environment the terms "Core" and "Non-Core" promises. It was the Liberal Party of Australia, under John Howard as Prime Minister, which made it excessively plain to the Australian people that the majority of political promises made by them during an election campaign were in fact "Non-Core" promises - or in other words, outright lies made in order to get elected.

I therefore find it somewhat hypocritical, to say the least, that it is the Liberal Party of Australia who are now harping non-stop on a single "broken" promise made by a member of the ALP.

(Again, this internet thingy is amazing.)

Having said all of this, here is my statement as a voter living in Brand, and a voter living in Western Australia.

I support the carbon tax as an overall good not only for people Parmelia, not only for people in Brand, but for people in Australia, and people the world over. Global climate change is occurring, and we here in the south-western corner of Western Australia have been seeing the effects of it for the past thirty years or more. Something needs to be done to at least begin to tackle the problem. The carbon tax may not be the optimum solution to the problem, but it's better than nothing.

I find the highly negative style of advertising, polling, and campaigning used by the Liberal Party of Australia to be highly offensive. The Liberal Party of Australia has a strong tendency to provide such negative statements particularly surrounding policy areas where their own solutions are lacking either in detail or in existence (I checked your party's website - the last constructive thing I can see about a climate change policy is dated almost a year ago - all the more recent stuff is basically slinging off at the ALP, without offering constructive solutions). I'd be more willing to at least listen to your side of the argument if your party showed any signs of willingness to either fish or cut bait. Instead, the Liberal Party of Australia gives the strong impression of a bunch of whiny toddlers who are sorely in need of being put down for a nap while the grown-ups get on with business.

Sincerely,

Meg Thornton (Ms)

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Current Mood: quixotic quixotic
Current Music: "NPWA" - Billy Bragg and the Blokes
Thoughts on the Australian Election

No, I aten't dead. I've just been staying quiet due to things like the beginning of a new semester at Uni (three programming units and a maths unit which requires a lot of programming - if I haven't been in larval mode before, I will be by the end of semester) and lack of interesting stuff to say. But there's an election on Saturday, and I figure I'll just give a short (okay, very long) rundown of the way I'm seeing things.

Longwinded political ramblings below )

So this election, I'll be voting Green, with preferences going to the minor parties before either of the two big ones, and with Labor getting a higher preference than the Liberals. Much the same as last time, in other words.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/10058.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: busy busy
Tony Abbott, Ventriloquist supreme

For those who are unaware, Tony Abbott is the latest leader the Federal Opposition in Australia. He's been the leader of the Liberal Party for about a month or two now, and he appears to be trying for the title of World's Greatest Ventriloquist. I'd certainly give him the gong - he seems to be able to speak very clearly despite having both feet in his mouth up to about the knee at this point.

So far he's been demonstrating a wonderful "back to the fifties" ethos as the leader of the Liberals. Problem is he appears to want to go back to the 1850s as far as moral thinking is concerned, and maybe the 1650s for economic thinking.

His latest effort is a screed on the appropriateness of the death penalty.

I was particularly struck by this quote:

Mr Abbott says execution may be a fitting punishment for those responsible for mass death.

"Well, you know, what would you do with someone who cold-bloodedly brought about the deaths of hundreds or thousands of innocent people?" he said.


Well, gee. Usually I start with the phrase "vote the bastard out", and work my way along from there. Come to think on it, isn't that what the people of the United States did to their former President who fitted those criteria? It's certainly what the voters of the federal seat of Bennelong did to John Howard in the last election. But hey, Tones, if you wanna risk a death penalty for the job of being PM, feel free. Let's start it in your potential first term as PM, hmmm?

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/8130.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

location: Beyond belief
Current Mood: wry wry
Repugnant Behaviour

It's interesting, really, when so-called "Christian" spokespersons get to talking about other religions in the media. For example, Australia's favourite Christian Democrat (imagine the scare quotes around each of those terms, please), the Reverend Fred Nile, has spoken up following the deaths of thirteen people on the Fort Hood military base in the USA to suggest the following:

"Australians would like to be assured that our defence forces have in place a system of assessment and review which would identify any person whose adherence to any alien ideology might one day override loyalty to mates and loyalty to the Crown." [...]

"There is an argument for suggesting that the safety and morale of our troops may warrant a ban on dedicated Muslims joining the armed forces, who may be influenced by Islamic fundamentalism."
(quoted from the article Muslims in ranks a recipe for disaster: Nile on the ABC news website)

I'm not a Christian by any stretch of the word, but I seem to recall from my reading of the various gospels (and most particularly the gospel of Mark) one of the key things Jesus Christ (remember him?) said about following in Christ's footsteps was you had to put your loyalty to God before your loyalty to anything else - country, posessions, employment, even family. For examples of what Christ had to say on the matter, have a look at the following biblical passages: Mark 9: 43 - 48; Mark 10: 17 - 25; Matthew 5: 29 - 30 (the sermon on the mount); Matthew 6: 19 - 21; Matthew 6: 33 - 34; Matthew 10: 37 - 42.

It should therefore be reasonable to suggest there is an argument (in order to assure the Australian defence forces are able to "identify any person whose adherence to any [..] ideology might one day override loyalty to mates and loyalty to the Crown") for dedicated Christians to be banned from joining the Australian armed forces. Surely this is a more reasonable criterion than banning Muslims, since the religion of Christ, and particularly the version of the religion of Christ created by Saul of Tarsus (aka St Paul), is strongly opposed to the notion of warfare, fighting, and conquest in the first place - and therefore antithetical to the concepts on which the Australian Defence Forces are based.

It might also be reasonable to suggest the best thing the Reverend Fred Nile can do, in all Christian charity with the relatives and friends of those injured or deceased as a result of the Fort Hood shootings, is to shut his bloody gob, and re-read his bible. Maybe this time he could pay more attention to the gospels than to the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus.

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location: In a right snit
Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
One step forward...

Found this one on the ABC ticker last night:

Robb takes leave over depressive illness

One of the Opposition Front Benchers in the federal House of Representatives here in Australia has a biochemical disorder called diurnal variation, which is a depressive illness. He's taking three months leave of absence.

Now, when I first saw that, I didn't have a clue what the heck "diurnal variation" meant in context of depressive illnesses (I knew it meant "daily changes" but heck, that's a pretty broad term). So, off I went to Google, and discovered it's the technical term for feeling like hammered crap in the mornings. At which point I went "yes, and?", because I've had that for over twenty years now, and I was under the strong impression it was pretty damn normal. Then again, I'm depressed, so are both my parents and a fair chunk of my relations, and possibly this skews things. My second reaction was along the lines of "ooh, there's a word for everything in this discipline!", because I hadn't been aware my feeling worried and anxious when I woke up (and the consequent wanting to go right back to sleep and stay there for another few hours) had a name, aside from "oh shit, another bloody morning".

Someone really should point out to Mr Robb's spokesweasel that using the big words for everything doesn't exactly win you the huge sympathy points in this day and age. Far too many people know google, and know how to use it - and many have stronger google-fu than I (my google-fu extends as far as being able to narrow down my search by picking appropriate terminology to search on).

But at least Mr Robb is getting lots and lots of sympathy for feeling like crap in the mornings now, and there's supportive messages from all and sundry, and lots of people saying "yeah, we're on your side, we'll keep your old job for you" and similar. So I'm going to try not to feel like I've been cheated by just having been told "suck it up and live with it" since I was fourteen, and get on with my life. I'll also try not to feel cheated by realising I have to hide my depressive illness, because otherwise I won't be able to get a job short of begging.

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
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