Turnbull Pledges $1 billion for Green Moral Vanity

by on 1 December, 2015

Malcolm Turnbull has just pledged $1 billion at the Paris Climate Conference for helping vulnerable, presumably poor nations cope with the effects of climate change. This forms part of a broader promise by ‘rich nations’ to provide $100 billion a year in ‘climate aid.’

A worthy cause, no?

What Turnbull was less keen to emphasise was that $800 million of the funds would be redirected from the existing foreign aid budget.

That means $800 million less for disaster relief, treatment for preventable but fatal diseases, access to clean drinking water and malnutrition. The list could go on much longer.

How many people died of global warming last year?
Directly, none.
But what about indirectly?
It’s hard to say. Isolating the impact of carbon emissions on natural disasters, bushfires and draughts is notoriously imprecise. The vicissitudes of the earth’s weather have befuddled humans long before multi-lateral climate love-ins became an annual feature of any self-respecting world leader’s travel diary.

It’s a question also made more complex still by the fact that the dominant cause of warming – fossil fuel emissions – directly saves an unknown but without doubt substantial number of people each year simply by providing cheap energy. This saves lives in the immediate sense of powering heating and basic medical treatment but also indirectly insofar as electricity is a basic precondition for economic growth and in turn, rising living standards.

By contrast, Malaria killed a million people last year. It is the single biggest killer of children worldwide and 40% of the world’s population is at risk. What makes this worse is that Malaria remains curable when diagnosed and treated promptly.

We are yet to see what exactly Australia’s $1 billion climate donation will be spent on. But the very notion of giving to climate aid to countries preoccupied with providing electricity, alleviating poverty and fighting airborne diseases smacks of moral exhibitionism.

The actual problems that beset the world’s poor are more urgent than El Ninos and incremental sea level rises. Pretending that we are doing something noble by redirecting foreign aid to so-called ‘climate aid’ shows just how high of a price politicians are willing to pay to satisfy their own moral vanity.

Malcolm Turnbull has said he thinks the promise is a ‘very important statement.’ To the extent that it shows his willingness to play loose with the facts to save face with transnational climate commissars, he is most certainly right.

Climate doomsayers predict that the earth’s warming will increase the spread of diseases like malaria, ebola and turbulosis, especially in the vulnerable region of sub-saharan Africa. Sounds serious. So what should we do?

If we want to help by reducing emissions, the modelling of the EU’s 20/20 climate policy provides some guidance. Modelling suggests the policy costs $250 billion each year and will reduce the earth’s temperature by 0.05C come 2100. According to one peer-reviewed study from the Global Policy forum, the cuts on the table in Paris will reduce warming by 0.306 degrees Fahrenheit for the princely sum of $1 trillion a year.

In comparison, the United Nations Roll Back Malaria Partnership estimates the cost of treating and preventing the vast majority of the world’s Malaria deaths would cost about $4.2 billion a year.

Many will be quick to label this a false comparison on the grounds that the costs of climate change far exceed an uptake in airborne disease. That overlooks the uncompromising reality even if every major country threw itself head first into far-reaching climate action today, the effect on the earth’s temperature come the latter half of the century would still be negligible.

A global agreement to funnel trillions upon trillions into windmills and solar panels over the next few decades would of course be gratifying for politicians keen to add ‘saving the planet’ to their list of career accomplishments. Yet in terms of aiding the world’s benighted, arresting global temperature rises by one degree or even less would amount to precious little. Indeed, it will be cold comfort for the untold millions in Asia and Africa who over the coming years will die premature deaths from preventable disease while living in conditions of destitution and abject misery.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean throwing our hands up and resigning ourselves to the impending doom of an all-but-certain climate apocalypse.

As Bjorn Lomgborg has shown, if we care more about facts than expensive gestures, the best value climate mitigation lies in researching better green energy technology. And as renewables become more cost effective, we’ll start to see them replace traditional sources without having to foist the unnamed billions in costs onto longsuffering taxpayers.

Some will argue that when the stakes are this high, holding out for better renewable technology is a risk not worth taking.

That’s still a more intellectually honest position than claiming untold billions worth of wind farms and ever larger donations to global greenhouse slush funds is needed to save countries where clean drinking water is still a work in progress.

It’s possible that the $1 billion of mostly redirected foreign aid Turnbull has pledged will be spent on the general welfare of countries expected to bear the brunt of climate change induced weather events.

Even still, suggesting that we should spend billions on climate action both at home and abroad for the good of ‘developing countries’ is little more than moral blackmail.

By the same token, playing Lady Bountiful with the taxpayer dime at this weeks conference in Paris deserves to be called out for what it is: a feckless exercise in green-eyed moral vanity.


Hillary Clinton’s Identity Politics and the Implosion of the Left

by on 27 November, 2015

At the most recent Democratic Debate when asked whether she was a Washington insider Hillary Clinton said ‘I can’t think of anything more of an outsider than a female President.’

That got treated to a round of applause despite being obviously untrue.

What about a Muslim President of the United States? What about a President who is a first generation immigrant? Or what about a Presidential contender who is a non-politician such as the GOP’s Ben Carson and Donald Trump? Or what about the thousands of Americans who are homeless and the prospect of a run for President would never even cross their mind?

If a Republican of Hillary Clinton’s public profile and net worth made that statement they would be lambasted for their insensitivity. Yet when Hillary Clinton says it she is celebrated as part of the fairy-tale that she is any more of a minority than her Republican opponents.

In America women make up 50.4% of the population and are represented by 55% of university enrolments and according to the United States Census Bureau.

However f you break down the conferral of degrees along racial lines according to the U.S. Department of Education, you find that racial minorities are distinctly disadvantaged.

In 2009-10, 72.9% of Bachelor’s degrees were given to white people, compared to 10.3% to African-Americans, 8.8% for Hispanics, 7.3% to Asian/Pacific Islanders  and 0.8% to Native American/Native Alaskans.

If, in each of those ethnic groups, you then separate the awarding of degrees between women and men you find that the percentage of female graduates is 56% for Caucasians, 65.9% for  African-Americans, 60.7% for Hispanics, 54.5% for Asian/Pacific Islanders and 60.7% for Native American/Native Alaskans.

Of course the often quoted statistic is that women earn an average of 22% less than men over the course of a life-time which is at first glance alarming given the higher rates of education across the board.

Yet a look at a 2013 report by the U.S. National Committee on Pay Equity showed that African-American men earned 25% less than Caucasian men and for Hispanic men the disparity was 33%.

For African-American and Hispanic women, the pay gap between them and white men was 36% and 46% respectively.

Even if she was not blessed with superb intelligence and an Ivy league education, Hillary Clinton would still not be an outsider compared to her GOP opponents- Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio who are all from more statistically marginalised groups.

Electing Hillary Clinton as President is not ground-breaking or revolutionary, there is nothing about her career that shows any overcoming of adversity.

In fact a study of Hillary Clinton’s career shows that of a calculated political operative, a devout follower of Saul Alinski’s ‘Rules for Radicals’, she chose against pursuing an academic career under him in order to enter the bar.

Reports of her time on her husband’s campaigns show a person more concerned about his political success than the fidelity of their marriage, with reports of extra-marital affairs both before, during and after his time in the White House.

And her move to the Senate in 2000 coincided nicely with Bill Clinton’s exit from politics, deliberately entering in the state of New York to contrast with her husband’s Arkansas identity.

From Hillary Clinton’s decision not to seek the nomination in 2004 to her distancing herself of her prior stance on Iraq in the 2008 Primary, Clinton’s career has been pre-meditated at every turn.

In 2008 he played down her gender, now it is the focus of her campaign and her policies on equal pay for equal work.

Hillary Clinton didn’t invent the system, nor does she have any interest in changing it, but she has undoubtedly mastered it.

Since losing to Barack Obama in 2008, she has embraced the identity politics that she so conscientiously avoided and as a result paid the price.

When asked which is the real Hillary Clinton, between her in 2008 and her in the current Primary, the answer is both and neither.

Clinton is a political professional and will pivot whichever way her advisers see benefits.

Nor is there anything gutsy about her candidature in the Presidency race.

Where Bill Clinton contested what many deemed to be an unwinnable election and came through as the winner, in the face of adversity from an incumbent President and his own party, Hillary Clinton has sought to be the highest profile candidate and stitch up the contest internally.

Any suggestion that her ascendancy is a generation-defining moment is misguided.

Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is part of the same vapid identity politics that won Obama the Presidency in 2008.

Nearly eight years on and with no solution to the rising debt and the instability in the Middle East, the Democrats are trying to once again pull off the same cheap trick.

The question is whether the people will fall for it twice.

‘Tim O’Hare is a free-lance commentator and blogger on http://politicslaidbarewithtimohare.tumblr.com/. He has been published in Online Opinion, Quadrant and Menzies House. The issues he talks about, among other things, relate to internal party politics, ‘economic policy, political theory, culture wars and media criticism. When not airing himself in writing he performs stand up comedy and has co-written and co-produced two shows, ‘Pending Approval’, in 2014, and ‘Problematic’, in 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Majoring in History) and a Graduate Diploma of Education from the University of Queensland

The Gulf Countries: A Solution to Europe’s Refugee Crisis

by on 27 November, 2015

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

To begin with, this is not an original ‘light-bulb’ moment here, it’s fairly well-known and BBC, CNN and others have reported on this many times, yet Western governments’ responses have been predictably silent.

The solution to the mass migration of displaced people from Syria lies in the following three words: The Gulf Countries.

At the present moment, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are the main countries which have taken refugees from Syria who are fleeing persecution and violence (regular bombing from above, and Islamist maniacs from below). Turkey and Lebanon have large tent cities for refugees. Turkey has around 815,000 Syrian refugees on its soil at the moment, Jordan has 600,000 and Lebanon has 1.1 million. The rest have migrated from these countries and chosen to move north into Europe, looking for better lives, better jobs and better welfare opportunities.

If they had travelled just a little bit south to Saudi Arabia, they could enjoy the benefits of a country that has a GDP of $746 billion USD. It is well-known that most of Saudi Arabia’s workforce is cheaply imported labour from neighbouring nations, but this should not be a factor militating against their government providing aid to persecuted refugees in their own backyard. However, Saudi Arabia has said ‘No’ to all refugees of any kind and in fact classify Syrian migrants as ‘non-refugees’ so they are currently taking none. At present, according to the World Bank’s data modelling, around 500 people in Saudi Arabia are refugees who have been granted asylum since 2013. That’s interesting because a country like Australia, thousands of miles away with completely different language, culture and social values, has over 35,000 refugees granted asylum last year alone.

But hang on, what about foreign aid to Syria? Well, luckily Saudi Arabia has been ‘generous’(?) and given $200 million to help the country and its refugees. Let’s put that figure in perspective: the Saudis make nearly $290 billion in annual revenues, – the term ‘drop in the ocean’ doesn’t seem to cover this fact adequately. How much has the EU given to Syria in foreign aid? Well, around $2.43 billion. Think about that discrepancy and ask: why do Europeans need to fund billions to Syria and accepts hundreds of thousands of refugees whilst the Saudis throw only a couple of hundred million and take zero refugees?

Ok, so Saudi Arabia is a big bully who doesn’t want to help fellow Syrians flee the barbaric ISIS hordes, so who else could take them? Qatar perhaps? They have a GDP of $212 billion USD so surely they could afford to take a few thousand and resettle them? Nope again. Qatar has said ‘Stay out’ to all Syrian refugees. There are around 133 genuine refugees who have been resettled in Qatar since 2013, up from 80 in previous years. I guess that’s progress?

Righto, so the Saudis and Qataris aren’t very helpful so let’s ask the UAE, a large, oil-rich nation on the Gulf with a GDP of around $401 billion USD. Damn, they’ve said ‘No way!as well. Wow! we’re really in trouble here. What about Kuwait? Oops, they’re currently instituting a policy which would reduce the amount of migrants in their country, and boot out a large proportion of foreign workers. We’re straight outta luck here!

A recent analysis demonstrated that if they so decided, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours ‘could easily take up to three million Syrian refugees within one year’.

So how do we solve this refugee crisis? Well, putting pressure on the Gulf Countries would probably be a good start, but this won’t ever happen, because despite their associations with the funding of Sunni extremism and Wahabbists in the Mid-East, Saudi Arabia is the prime economic ally of the US in the Middle East. So no matter how much we shout and point at the Gulf Countries not pulling their weight, it really won’t change much. In the meantime, the West will need to take – and fund – hundreds of thousands of people of completely different cultural and social values and religious beliefs and somehow integrate them into a non-traditional, liberal, and individualistic modern society. Let the games begin!

The Greatest Generation Delivers

by on 27 November, 2015


The current Young Liberals and Liberal Students fight against the SSAF and parallel import restrictions on books deserves considerable praise, writes Josh Manuatu: 

This week, the ACT Young Liberals hosted a drinks event with Mathias Cormann, Zed Seselja, Nick Cater and Miranda Devine – the first three speakers spoke about the importance of standing up for the things we believe in and not being afraid of doing so, before Miranda Devine poignantly said that our generation is the greatest generation.

Since that night, the world for Young Liberals and Liberal Students has changed exponentially with two major breakthroughs on key matters of principle – things that have been fought for and championed by Young Liberals and Liberal Students. Little did I realise that so quickly after the event, a couple of people in the room would go on to prove Miranda Devine correct.

For years, successive ALSF Presidents (in particular Christian Street and Evan Mulholland) had advocated the abolition of Parallel Import Restrictions – a copyright restriction that stops the importation of cheaper books printed overseas. For young people, the restrictions have directly hit the hip pocket with university textbooks costing as much as 35% more according to the Productivity Commission. Despite recommendations from the PC in 2009 that the restrictions be abolished, successive governments have failed to act. Until now.

In response to the Harper Review, the Government this week announced that it would remove the restrictions when a further Productivity Commission inquiry into intellectual property is complete. Despite the campaign that has already begun from some protectionist authors, the Government has remained resolute in its position. As a result of campaigns spearheaded by Christian and Evan, every single student in Australia will benefit as early as next year.

I thought this was the biggest achievement that was going to happen for a while and something that we could all walk away from, proud to achieve. Until I ran into Jack McGuire and Will Taylor who had spent months lobbying the crossbench off their own back on the Student Services and Amenities Fee. And better yet, for no other reason than it was something that they are passionate about.
The ACT Young Liberals, like every State YL Division, along with the Federal Young Liberals have established policy to abolish the SSAF for the reasons we all know. It’s unfair, undemocratic and unjust, and more still it’s often used for junkets, rorts and ripoffs. It flies in the face of everything we believe in. Forced union membership, results and graduation held hostage and, in many cases, zero accountability.

In Australia, the Debtor’s Prison Lives On

by on 25 November, 2015

Miss Julieka Dhu died in custody after being arrested for unpaid traffic fines

You may not be aware of this, but Australian law allows police to imprison you for failing to pay a fine. That’s what happened to 22-year old Julieka Dhu, who died in custody of septicaemia and pneumonia after being arrested failing to pay a traffic fine. In other words, these laws expose ordinary people to an unwieldy law enforcement system designed to deal with serious criminals. It’s no wonder they get hurt along the way. And it’s no wonder they fail to pay: the fines can sometimes be extraordinarily high, and public officials have previously admitted that they are used as a means of raising revenue for the government. So it is not surprising that some Australians fail to pay them in time or at all and enter into a spiral of debt. Poorer Australians, and especially indigenous Australians, are susceptible to repeated arrests for failure to pay these fines and risk mistreatment or abuse in jail as a result.

Miss Dhu’s case was particularly egregious. She suffered from septicaemia and pneumonia and was delivered to hospital in the back of a police car without a stretcher. That day while in prison Mss Dhu had complained of pain and numbness in her legs and vomited. She had also fallen and hit her head on concrete flooring three times. There can be little doubt that a person in that position would seek immediate medical help on their own if they were at liberty. Being in custody impeded her ability to seek medical help.

Complaints of police brutality or negligence in this case may or may be justified, but they miss this simple point: Ms Dhu would not be in custody if police could not arrest her in the first place. Only the government can imprison you for failing to pay a fine. Private creditors can’t do that if you fail to pay your debts. Their only option is to bankrupt you and divide up your assets between themselves. This is a humane, cost-effective way of dealing with debtors. Arresting a person for failing to pay their debts is costly because it means we need to pay for their imprisonment. It also exposes them to harm, particularly to vulnerable members of our society. It exposes them to dangerous criminals in prison who could harm them or pose a negative influence that leads to them a life of crime. It also renders them unable to work during their imprisonment, disrupts their employment and makes them less likely to be able to pay off their debts. It creates situations in which innocent people suffer. Our toleration of debtor’s prisons for unpaid fines must come to an end.

Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and a deputy Victorian State director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. The views expressed here are his own.

Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and a deputy Victorian State director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. The views expressed here are his own.

The ATO’s Oppression Of My Identity

by on 25 November, 2015

The Australian Taxation Office continues to discriminate against Lena Lawrence in denying her identity:

All my life, I have faced hate and discrimination because I identify as a seventy-seven year old. Yes. I’ve existed on this earth for approximately twenty-five years. But since I could remember, I always made better connections with my elders, with my grandparents. But like other minorities, I face persecution.

Last year, I was told my super contributions were to be taxed. If you’re 60 or over, your income payments are tax-free and don’t need to be declared as assessable income when you lodge a tax return. Why am excluded just because I look twenty-five?  Everyday we face discrimination and hate like this. We should no longer have to put up with this.

Since I was a child, I remember drawing myself with grey hair. I remember loving the musky, nostalgic scent of Chanel No. 5. I remember, the vivid projections of retirement.

I have always identified as a seventy-seven year old. It is real. It is a part of who I am.

What Government would actively seek to strip you of your identity, to deny you rights that you are entitled to, simply because of the way you look. My identity is mine – and no one else’s. 

What shallow society have we become to not recognise that everyone deserves a safe space from the suppression of minority discrimination and offense.

Repeatedly I am denied the age pension from the Department of Human Services. The nerve of a government organisation to deny human rights to pursue the dreams relevant to my age. It is true, I was not genetically blessed to have wrinkles and arthritis like other elderly, but I know who I am and I cannot let anyone else dictate or manipulate that.

I know this struggle. This struggle I face with so many others – refugees from Syria, racial minorities, the fat-shamed, and my otherkin friends. We all share the same dream. The dream, to be treated the way we really are, on the inside – to be treated with equality.

Mankind exists to pursue a sense of being – of identity. My identity is real. It is pure. It is just. And we must fight to preserve each and every last sliver of individuality left before we are consumed by the evil that is capitalism.

Like my hero said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Obama speaks to my heart. He is the true champion of equality. And I know, that he will seek to defend my honour and my pride in stepping out into the open about the joy in finding my identity – who I really am.

So join me, friends, in this campaign for freedom. The freedom to be who you are. The freedom from capitalism. The freedom from straight people. The freedom from western oppression of minority rights.

This age discrimination needs to stop. I am and always will be, seventy-seven. And it is my fundamental human right that you – and the ATO – treat me as such. 

Lena Lawrence is a 25 year old mature age student completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Sydney and writes about her journey through age discrimination on her blog – “The Vintage Feminist.” Lawrence has since been sponsored as a motivational speaker by the Kardashian family in collaboration with Caitlyn Jenner. She has also been invited to make an appearance on the View with guest speaker Hillary Clinton and powerhouse Beyoncé Knowles.

Axe the SSAF Once and For All

by on 25 November, 2015

Tomorrow, Independent Senator John Madigan plans to move a motion cleansing Australian Universities of the scourge that is compulsory student unionism by abolishing the Students Services and Amenities Fee – otherwise known as the ‘SSAF.’

The move has already been met with uproar from the student unions and leftists who are evidently horrified at the prospect of their largesse no longer being subsidized by the debts of ordinary students.

Outrage from student politicians grief-stricken at the thought of their personal fiefdoms being defunded should give no pause for Senator Madigan’s motion. In fact, it underscores the urgent need for the SSAF’s immediate abolition.

Most students aren’t even aware that the SSAF exists. It’s simply added to their HECS to the tune of $290 a year. But what they should know is that not a cent of it goes towards their education.

For the most part, the SSAF is used to underwrite the profligacy and petty indulgences of student unions. At first glance these outfits seem noble enough, professing to enhance the welfare and campus experience of students. The reality is somewhat less gallant.

At best they do a poor job of duplicating services usually already offered by the University administration and distribute funding to clubs through an unwieldy bureaucracy stacked out by third-rate hacks.

At worst they operate as semi-corrupt shopfronts for jumped up activists-in-training. At some universities, they simply end up being openly abused as sinecures for Trotskyites suffering from an incurable case of delayed onset teenage angst.

When pressed, student unions are usually able to list a number of superficial ways that students benefit from paying the fee. But whether this is worth the cost of a MacBook Pro or flights to Europe over the course of a four-year degree depends entirely on what kind of student you are.

If you study a degree in navel-gazing and elect to spend your days cordoned off in a ‘safe space’ bemoaning the high tragedy that is life in 21st century Australia, it may be the best money you’ve ever spent.

Your answer may be a little different if you spend more time in the library than walking down public streets screaming obscenities down a megaphone. And if you think a couple of free coffees, a show bag of O-week trinkets and a few poorly run parties aren’t worth the cost of a semester’s haul of textbooks, you’re certainly being ripped off.

Compulsory unionism is rightly regarded as an affront to freedom of association in Australian workplaces. It should be no different for students.

Turnbull has it right on Harper Review

by on 25 November, 2015


Jessica Van Zwam provides an optimistic assessment of the Turnbull Government’s acceptance of most recommendations of the Harper Review. 

Today we saw the drastic difference between Australia’s two main parties – highlighting just how much this country needs ideas that support innovation, not tax grabs.

A “defining moment in Australia’s economic journey” is how Business Council Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott refers to the Federal Government’s support of the Harper Review on competition, if implemented appropriately.

It is refreshing to see that the Turnbull Government, along with Treasurer Scott Morrison, plans to take on board the majority of recommendations put forward by the review. The government has today announced that it will be backing 44 of the 56 recommendations put forward. The Treasurer has also claimed that the government has not yet rejected any recommendations and that the remaining ones are still up for discussion in the future. This comprehensive review of Australia’s competition law is the first in 22 years and makes suggestions of changes to our taxi services, transport regulations and retail trading hours, amongst others.

This broad acceptance of the review’s recommendations show that Turnbull is following through on his commitment to lead “a thoroughly liberal government”, at least in the economic sense.

In announcing the government’s response, Morrison has stated that the government wants to “unleash a spirit of competition”, helping the country adapt to changes in the global economy. He continues to note that “competition is one of the surest ways to lift long-term productivity growth and generate economic benefits that can be shared by everyone”. Rod Sims, the Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has already welcomed the government’s response, stating that “these reforms are the most significant of their kind in over 20 years and once implemented should boost economic growth significantly”.

As a full-time university student with at least another full year of tertiary study left, I welcome the government’s commitment to removing parallel import tariffs on textbooks. I stand with many others around Australia, who are excited to see significant price reductions on textbooks, leading to a lower cost of living for students. This recommendation essentially means that individuals or retailers can import certain products without it going through an authorised distributor or IP owner. However, it should be noted that this support will rely on the outcomes of an inquiry by the Productivity Commission into Australia’s intellectual property arrangements. They have also rejected the suggestion to also remove restrictions on second-hand cars. Regardless, it is always important to celebrate the government’s support of the removal of import restrictions and make a point that we truly are the party of freedom and deregulation.

The review again highlighted the importance of deregulation in placing taxis and ride-sharing as an area for regulatory review. This focuses on deregulating taxi licences and ensuring both minimum standards and competition among ride sharing services such as Uber. Whilst it is known that the regulation of taxis and ride sharing is an area of state responsibility, the government has come out in support of this recommendation; with a strong consideration of payments to states and territories for similar regulatory reviews where they result in reforms which ultimately improve productivity.

In a move which will modernise Australia and improve productivity, the government has also backed the review’s recommendation to remove the remaining restrictions on retail trading hours. This does hold the exclusion of Christmas Day, Good Friday, and ANZAC day, just a few days which remain incredibly important to Australian way of life and offers a good balance. Again, the government has stated that it will encourage the states to introduce this recommendation, hopefully leading to a win for shoppers around Australia.

These are just a few very promising outcomes which will be delivered by the Turnbull Government, or by the States where relevant, in response to the review. I, like many others, look forward to seeing these restrictions on competition and economic growth be lifted in the near future.

However, this celebration of competition by the Liberals comes as a stark contrast to Bill “Mr 15%” Shorten’s most recent tax grab. The policy idea was put forward by the Labor leader today and plans to increase the tobacco excise by 12.5% a year for four years until 2020. This comes as the Cancer Council announces a drop in teenage smoking rates, emphasising just how out of touch the Labor party is. They can’t even manage to get the support of the entire party caucus, as Senator Joe Bullock questions his party’s motives. Why Bill Shorten decided to end his failed ‘year of ideas’ with a nanny state-style tax hike which hits poorer Australians is beyond me.

The contrast in the kind of policy announced by the two major parties today is resounding. One looks to punish their own supporters, the other supports the notions of competition and deregulation. It becomes quite clear which party supports Australia and our citizens, and which truly doesn’t.

Jessica Van Zwam is a third year Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Western Australia majoring in Political Science, International Relations and Marketing. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Swan Young Liberals.

Why Australia should not sign up to the Paris Climate Summit

by on 23 November, 2015

Ahead of the terror attack that took place in Paris, climate change is not an immediate concern. Celeste Arenas gives the scientific and economic reasons not to sign up to the UN Paris Summit in December.

11651173_1125567404137282_902298289_nFollowing the unprecedented terrorist attack in Paris, the French government and other world leaders are set to continue the upcoming Climate Summit as planned. There are innumerable reasons, both environmental and economic to cancel the conference, but raising morale and refusing to submit to terrorism is the best reason to draw all the world’s leaders together in the same city that the horrific murder took place. Their presence is better served however, by aiming to resolve some of our biggest world problems; from the horrendous human rights violations that ISIS has committed, to the starving population of North Korea to the dictatorial suppression of people in Venezuela. Instead, they will gather to take action against climate change, whose unjustified concern has been exposed by the recent tragedies that have taken place. If leaders like Obama were right in saying that “climate change is the greatest challenge of our time,” legislation to curb carbon emissions would make sense. However, the science surrounding climate change is unclear at best and blatantly misleading at worst. A treaty based on dubious scientific claims will lead to an unnecessary economic decline hurting all the nations that sign up. It will particularly devastate developing nations without doing any good for the Australian economy. The very last thing the world needs at this stage is economic decline; the inevitable outcome of binding environmental legislation.

Before Australia commits to reduce emissions by 26% by 2030, one must first ask: why? Scientific inquiry requires natural scepticism, yet the debate over climate change is shut down, often by force. France’s top meteorologist and television personality Phillipe Verdier was recently fired for questioning the validity of climate change. The decision ironically proves the main thesis of his book that “any contrary views … not hostage to [the] planetary scandal … are eliminated.” He says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “blatantly erased” data contrary to their conclusions and there is “little accuracy” in the IPCC’s climate models. This is the political setting under which negotiations over the climate are about to take place. There is a need to reverse the current trend that makes doubting the merit of climate change tantamount to religious heresy. Before catapulting Turnbull into this political arena, scientific scrutiny has to be applied to ensure the theory is as valid as its proponents claim.

Paris will be constructive, it is argued, because leaders have a united goal to mitigate climate change to “limit the increase the of Earth’s global surface temperature to only 2 degrees above the preindustrial level.” This is drawn from the fear that “current warming has proceeded at an unprecedented rate for the last 1,300 years.” These NASA graphs show a positive correlation between carbon emissions and temperature that escalate vertically from 1950 onwards. However, a graph like this is as accurate as Piketty’s graph on income inequality. Using highly selective data, the graph persuasively misleads the reader into thinking correlation equals causation. A graph on income inequality says the growing distance between the highest and lowest income earners makes capitalism bad for the poor. This graph on climate change says that increasing temperature in the past 200 years makes capitalism bad for the environment. Much like Piketty’s graph, current climate projections do not encompass full historical trends nor do they cover the degrees of difference between regions.

NASA’s estimates go back 650,000 years. This is old, but not as old as the planet itself. Temperature swings date back as far as 65 million years, according to Alaskan geologist David Lappi. His study points out the variety of different stages in the earth’s climate. From various ice ages to temperatures “drastically warmer than now,” the modern day is “cooler than usual.” This graph demonstrates that despite the high degree of variability, temperatures are consistently sliding downwards. Lappi’s study uses “oxygen isotope thermometry of deep ocean sediment cores,” which not only covers more areas of the earth’s surface but a wider time frame compared to NASA. Additionally, NASA’s projections are based on “atmospheric samples of ice cores” which researcher David Middleton has shown seriously underestimates the variability of interglacial carbon dioxide levels.

Lappi argues that the extent of volatility within Earth’s historical climate makes it possible to “pick virtually any trend you want depending on the dot you start from.” NASA chose a recent trend using a less precise measurement in order to claim that global warming is not only unprecedented but must be attributed to carbon emissions.

Cracks in this theory are evident in the false predictions made by environmentalists. By failing to address the variability in the earth’s historical and geographic climate, they have deterministically argued that global warming will increase temperatures worldwide. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth predicted that the North Pole could be “completely liquidated by 2014” due to the “impending threat of global warming.” In fact, the total opposite has occurred as there has been “a dramatic increase in the amount of ice covering the pole.” In the past two years alone, polar ice caps have “grown by 63%.” Predictions along the same false alarmism of Gore continue however as Professor Peter Wadham argues “the ice area will be less than 1 million square kilometres by September 2015.” It is now November 2015 and even NASA has shown that “an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation … is currently adding enough ice to outweigh the loss of its thinning glaciers.” Any theory with such clear empirical evidence against it should be re- classified as such, instead of rising to the pedestal of undisputable scientific fact.

The second flaw in NASA’s projections is that global warming is a direct result of carbon emissions. Whilst the barrage of climate change literature suggest climate change is man-made, empirical data shows otherwise. Anthony Lupo, professor and former reviewer of the IPCC, explains that “climatological changes since the 1850s” are not unique as “there have been periods where there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than today.”

Natural global warming is also determined by the sun as a 2014 Nature Geoscience study established an “unexpected link between solar activity and climate change.” According to geological scientist Dr Raimund Muscheler, inputs of solar energy “indirectly change atmospheric circulation” that result in “increases and decreases of temperature in certain regions.” Whilst the impacts of the sun on climate change are evidently significant, current models used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not take solar activity into account. A climate model that does not include every major factor in its predictions cannot be considered the benchmark of global environmental legislation.

Here we have a have a conference that will attempt to eliminate the “vague threats of climate change,” when we know with absolute certainty that “poverty kills people.” Whilst the developed world’s carbon emissions have barely changed since the turn of the century, carbon emissions are rising mainly because of the unprecedented levels of economic growth in India, China and Brazil. These countries are now classified the “world’s largest polluters” as if rescuing entire populations out of poverty is a crime that must be punished.

While the Kyoto Protocol said developing nations were not required to curb their emissions until reaching an acceptable stage of economic growth, Paris will be different. All 192 nations attending; both developed and undeveloped will be obligated to reduce their carbon emissions. The crippling economic impacts this will have on developing countries led to Obama’s proposal of a Green Climate Fund. The only way developing countries can access these finances will be by “adjusting to renewable energies.” If Obama’s goal is to halt poverty reduction in the developing world, this is probably the best way to do it. The American policy goal to adjust to renewable energy in 1995 has been an ongoing failure that cost over $1,700,000,000,000 with “no clear carbon reductions.” This useless spending has only been offset by a heavy dependence and increasing production of oil as a primary energy source. If developing countries apply the same policy failure, this will devastate their ability to grow as they will not be allowed to use carbon emitting energy to sustain their industrial production.

The left are not wrong to talk about the economic disparity between the North and South. They are wrong however, to blame capitalist expansion for this divide. The emergence of global capitalism is the one mitigating factor eliminating the economic distinction of developed and developing nations. Climate legislation directed at developing nations is exactly what will keep these nations in poverty. A treaty obligating both developed and developing nations to reduce emissions at an equal rate will have similar consequences to the binding legislation of the European Union. Like Greece and Italy, nations that are better off independent will be led to economic catastrophe that is the result of political dependency. Individual bureaucrats will extract the benefits of increased funding but this will come at the expense of the economic growth for the everyday people.

As a developed nation, Australia will not face the same ravaging economic decline as Brazil, India or the Philippines. However, its dependence on coal makes it particularly susceptible to emissions cuts following the Paris Summit. Australia’s economic prosperity is largely the result of an ability to emit as many carbon emissions required in order to sustain production. In past climate conferences, Australia has been subject to the harsh labels as “one of the world’s worst polluters per capita” given the extent of its emissions and its low population. However, what is ignored in these remarks is Australia’s claim to one of the highest living standards in the world, a low rate of poverty and ongoing economic growth. Tony Abbott fully understood this when he passed legislation to the development of Queensland’s new $16 billion coalmine. He knew that “powering up the lives of 100 million people in India” is a higher priority than submitting to the unjustified political environmentalism of various lobby groups.

If Turnbull signs environmental legislation in Paris, he will acquiesce that carbon as the root of all evil, regardless of its economic benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth as coal is an integral part of achieving modern energy demand for 38% of the world’s population that still cannot access electricity.

Global leaders will be rightly welcomed in one of the darkest periods of Parisian history, but the redundancy of their goals has been exposed by the immediate concerns of global terrorism. Instead of gathering to rectify the situation, they will be working towards eliminating a non – existent threat by punishing the world’s most vulnerable people. The irony of this legislative indictment is the moral righteousness that will not only accompany the process but the recent context that has emerged. World leaders emboldened to stop global warming after the Paris attacks will only compound the number of victims to suffer needlessly.

Celeste Arenas is a 3rd year Arts student at the University of Sydney. She is the Community Relations Manager for the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and on the Executive Board of Australia & NZ Students for Liberty, as well as on the Executive of the University of Sydney Libertarian Society.

Misplaced Pride

by on 20 November, 2015

Earlier today, the University of Western Australia replaced the WA State Flag with a ‘pride flag’ until further notice. UWA students Liam Staltari and Rebecca Lawrence respond.


In the latest manifestation of extreme political correctness, the University of Western Australia has today lowered the State Flag of Western Australia from its flagpole and instead raised the ‘Pride’ Flag – a rainbow flag considered a symbol of gay pride and the movement for same-sex marriage. The three flagpoles usually display the Australian National Flag, the WA State Flag and the Aboriginal Flag, rightfully enjoying pride of place in front of the University’s iconic Winthrop Hall.

Opposition to the University’s knee-jerk reaction to a vocal minority of student activists does not imply opposition to their inalienable right to champion the causes that are closest to them. However, we suggest that the continued social engineering being pursued by higher education institutions, including UWA, is inappropriate and must come to an end. This is just the latest example.

Following the Aboriginal Flag’s replacement with the ‘Pride’ flag on Thursday the 19th, it did not take long for the perpetually-outraged UWA Student Guild to lead a backlash alongside the Western Australian Student Aboriginal Corporation (WASAC). In a sadly predictable response, Vice-Chancellor Paul Johnson subsequently ordered that the WA State Flag be removed and replaced with the Aboriginal Flag, with both the Pride and the National Flags to continue to fly.

In removing the state flag in favour of another, the University opens itself up to significant potential reputational damage. While it may not seem important to some, raising the flags of our nation and our state each day is a significant symbol of respect to the community that all of us call home. Irrespective of one’s race or sexual orientation, in the state and national flags we find a reminder that there is more that unites our diverse community than divides us, and while many on the Left may fail to admit it, it is this concept that truly embodies the beauty of our pluralistic society. Indeed, the Western Australian Flag speaks to the coming together of all people, not simply those who belong to a particular minority.

Moreover, the removal of the WA State Flag to accommodate a display of political correctness as part of a single-issue campaign like that concerning same-sex marriage is unwarranted and disrespectful. The Western Australian Flag is a symbol of the proud and rich history of our State, pre-dating even the Australian National Flag itself. Its lasting relevance was recently re-affirmed when the WA State Parliament passed the State Flag Act 2006. At this time, Hon Colin Barnett MLA (now Premier of Western Australia), posited that

“The flag is a symbol of our shared history, culture and identity, which has been forged through triumph and adversity.

Our flag represents the pride we have in the achievements of all Western Australians”.

In this we can see that ‘pride’ is multi-faceted, and it is certainly not zero-sum.

Yet it is the simplest point that may well be the most poignant. Before all else, these flags are flown on the grounds of the University of Western Australia. For the oldest and most distinguished place of learning in this state, which bears its name for good reason, to fail to fly the flag of that same state, is unacceptable. This is an organisation that was established under, and remains governed by, an Act of WA State Parliament.

More than that, this is an institution which invites bright minds from across the state to share in its academic life, and to embody the very best ideals of our state. To be sure, tolerance and diversity are among them, but so too is a lasting respect for our shared history and identity.

Universities have always been a haven for free expression, a hub for exploring challenging ideas, and a breeding ground for new and exciting innovation. This is not a bad thing – indeed, it is the opposite. However, we mustn’t forget that the University of Western Australia is also a public institution, with a history that now spans over a century and an academic tradition that transcends any individual campaign or partisan cleavage.

And as such, sometimes it is necessary for the University Executive to stand their ground in denying the demands of a vocal minority of students. While both the UWA Student Guild and WASAC have a legitimate role to play in advocating for the rights of different groups on campus, it is vital that this be done through the right avenues and that the Guild in particular seeks to represent all students, not just particular cohorts. Suggesting that the WA State Flag (or, as pictured below, the Australian National Flag itself) be lowered to make way for an unofficial flag to be flown on a public university campus is certainly not one of those avenues.


It would not have been disrespectful for the Vice-Chancellor to have tempered this demand with another alternative. Yet once again, the same tired pattern of bowing to the wishes of the mobilised Left – be it contrary to free expression or to the heritage of the WA community – rises to the fore.

In closing, it should be noted that this controversy has prompted a review of the processes surrounding flag-flying at UWA. As was said at the outset, this is not a matter of petty political point-scoring, nor is it a means to attack any one group – if you feel strongly about the need to respect this key symbol of our state then we strongly encourage you to make a submission to this review.

If this is a lesson that still must be learned by some, then there is no more fitting an institution to teach it than the University of Western Australia.


Liam Staltari is a sitting UWA Student Guild Councillor, a 2016 UWA Delegate to the National Union of Students and the President of the WA Union of Liberal Students. Rebecca Lawrence is a past UWA Student Guild Councillor, a two-time UWA Delegate to the National Union of Students and the Treasurer of the WA Union of Liberal Students. They are both currently in their third year of UWA’s Bachelor of Philosophy (Hons.) Undergraduate Degree.