How Malcolm Fraser gave away the Moon , Asteroids and the rest of the Solar System to International Socialism.


Ralph Buttigieg condemns Malcolm Fraser's decision to ratify the "straight on Marxism" of the Moon Treaty, and discusses how its damaging effects will increase in the years to come:

Its been known for decades that there are vast resources in Space. Asteroids contain nickel, iron and platinum group metals.  The Moon has He3, an isotope that could fuel nuclear fusion reactors. Lighter elements and water are also available. These minerals could provide humanity with extraordinary abundance. Previously the idea of  extraterrestrial mining has been seen a pure speculation but recently that speculation has taken a major step towards reality.  In April a high powered team of entrepreneurs  announced the formation of Planetary Resources a company that has asteroid mining as its goal. Its founders include film maker-explorer James.Cameron,  X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis,  Google  executives Larry Page,  Ram Shriram and  Eric Schmidt, former Microsoft executive and veteran astronaut Charles Simonyi,  and Ross Perot Jr., the son of Ross Perot. These are serious men with serious money, the project has to be taken seriously. 

Australia has a long mining history so so it was  to be expected  that Australians have started taking  an interest. Leonhard Bernold from the University of New South Wales has given much thought as to how to mine the Moon and deal with the dust problem.  Duncan Steel again from University of NSW has explained the role local astronomers can play in such ventures.  However despite what ever comparative advantage Australians may have , its really beside the point because Malcolm Fraser shut the door on Australian Space development years ago.

Space is not some fantasy  filled with Angels and Klingons . People need to remove the restriction of the “Only One Earth” thinking and remember that the planets and moons of our Solar System are new territories available for economic development and eventual settlement. Conceptually   they are no different the New Worlds of the Americas and Australasia. However there's not going to be much economic development without a functioning market and a market economy requires property rights . When Captain Cook came to Australia the first thing he did was raise the Union Jack and claim the territory for King George 3rd . So when Governor Phillip  came here with the First Fleet   land titles could be allocated. Titles that would be recognised anywhere in the British Empire.  Traders need to own something for them to trade it. Developers need to own title to land to raise capital and develop it. In my view its the lack  of Space property rights that's has held up Space development. 

There are two international treaties relevant here. Firstly there's the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies of 1967,  commonly called the Outer Space Treaty which  most countries have signed. That treaty forbids nations claiming sovereignty over extra terrestrial bodies and thereby bans the most time tested way of establishing property rights. There's some dispute if this treaty completely  bans property rights, some lawyers say it does others say it does not. However it does not explicitly say  private property is banned. In fact if space organisations such as NASA have taken legal action to get back  Apollo Moon material which they claimed to own.   

Some people have been happy to work with the Outer Space Treaty and have developed schemes to establish Space property rights.. Rand Simberg from the Competitive Enterprise Institute has propose  a plan that would allow the development on Lunar and Martian resources without huge government funding.   

However its another treaty that the real killer. The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies of 1979,  commonly called the Moon Treaty specifically forbids property rights.

Its states that extra terrestrial resources are the 'common heritage of mankind “ and :

"Neither the surface nor the subsurface of the moon, nor any part thereof or natural resources in place, shall become property of any State, international intergovernmental or non-governmental organization, national organization or non-governmental entity or of any natural person.”

 But wait, there's more. If any development is going to happen,

 “States Parties to this Agreement hereby undertake to establish an international regime, including appropriate procedures, to govern the exploitation of the natural resources of the moon as such exploitation is about to become feasible.”

 So international bureaucrats are going to control Moon. The reason for this is to allow:

 “ An equitable sharing by all States Parties in the benefits derived from those resources, whereby the interests and needs of the developing countries, as well as the efforts of those countries  which have contributed either directly or indirectly to the exploration of the moon, shall be given special consideration."

The Moon treaty is straight on Marxism on a galactic scale. It bans Free Enterprise and replaces it with International Socialism. Fortunately only a few countries have ratified the treaty, none of the space faring nations have been dumb enough to do so,  but guess what, one of those countries which have is Australia. Thank you Malcolm Fraser.

Ralph Buttigieg's professional career has included a couple of decades in government and management, proprietor of a Science Fiction & Fantasy bookshop, a stint in direct marketing and now finds himself in the finance industry. He has had a life long interest in Astronomy and Space exploration and is a member of the National Space Society of Australia and was at one time the President of the NSW Branch of the British Astronomical Association.  He joined the Liberal Party in 2008 and considers himself one of those right  wing bogans who voted in John Howard in 1996.


Why Conservatives Should Cheer, Not Condemn Newt’s Moon Base

Ralph-ButtigiegRalph Buttigieg defends the "Moon Base" as a way to "destroy the dangerous socialist Only One Earth mentality":

Newt Gingrich recent Moon base proposal has produced much negative reaction. It has ranged from “ its “lunacy”, “can not be afforded” or my favorite Dadadadaaaa da “ . While such criticisms would be expected from Democrats sadly much of the ridicule comes from conservatives.. Its not my intention to discuss Mr Gingrich suitability for the Presidency, what I want to discuss is his Space policy and how Space can give us the freedoms and prosperity we want.

Firstly lets look at the United Nations view on our future. According to the UN we must redefine economic growth and "retool world economy for sustainability.":

The panel challenged leaders to recognise that "current global development is unsustainable."

"We need to chart a new, more sustainable course for the future, one that strengthens equality and economic growth while protecting our planet," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in Addis Ababa to mark the release of the panel's report, which outlines more than 50 policy recommendations.

Its a world view based on the “ Only One Earth” mentality. Its the philosophy of the Greens. There’s nothing new about it, “the Limits to Growth” report put out by the Club of Rome came out in the 1970's . Because resources are believed to be limited it accepts the government has to limit our freedoms. The end result would be a bleak future were wealth creation would be limited and freedom replaced by bureaucracy.

There's another view, The Space Frontier Future. It recognizes we are residents of a Solar System with over nine planets , many moons and countless asteroids. A future the believes our species is not bound to any single planet but fully capable of expanding out throughout the Solar System.

Satellites have provided many applications, but that's just the beginning. The Moon's resources can be mined for Space manufacturing , it also contains plentiful Helium 3 , a possible nuclear fuel, and should have large deposits of platinum group metals. The confirmation of ice at the Lunar poles makes a Moon base more practical. The asteroids contain vast amounts of industrial metals and Mars has all the resources for a technological civilisation.

Saying we “only have one Earth” makes as much sense as a 16th Century European saying we only have one Continent.

The role of a government in Space is no different from its role in any other frontier. It has the responsibility of proper stewardship until people can exploit and colonise the new territory . Also to help explore and construct appropriate infrastructure. Think of the opening of Outback Australia and the American West.

Which brings us back to Newt and his Moon base. The Americans have historical been the leaders in Space exploration and still see that as part of their role. Mr Gingrich is a historian who has been interested in Space most of his life. He understands what Space has to offer as well as the high costs of recent government Space ventures. The reality is the United States has a horrendous $1.5 trillion deficit which has to be reduced. Now you might say that with such debt there should be no Space program, but none of the candidates are saying that. Mitt Romney is not. Even Ron Paul wants to keep military Space but if he believes civilian Space can be zeroed out while keeping military Space he has no understanding of history.

What needs to be done is reduce significantly the Space budget and open the frontier at the same time. Which is what the Gingrich policy offers.

Look at NASA. The agency has degenerated into a decrepit, bloated bureaucracy. It has been unable to build a new rocket since the Space Shuttle, first flown in 1981. Billions of dollars have been spent on various projects, National Aerospace Plane, X-33, X-37, Ares etc. All have failed. The Space Station was supposed to be laboratory were Shuttle astronauts could do research but by the time the Station was complete the Shuttle was retired and now NASA astronauts have been forced to take taxi rides on Russian Soyuz capsules. Even their awesome robotic program is decaying. NASA no longer has the nuclear fuel for deep space missions. NASA's current big project is the Space Launch System (SLS) , an attempt to build a big Apollo class rocket with Shuttle technology. If it ever flys they may do a couple of launches a year. Just were too is unknown as it has no mission. But why would you want to build a rocket with 1970's era technology anyway? Well, its the most labour intensive which is what you want in a politically motivated jobs program. Cynics don't call the SLS the Senate Launch System for nothing.

Contrast this with the American private sector. Theres the Deltas and Atlas, Pegasus and Minotaur rockets. SpaceX has the Falcon rocket and Dragon Spaceship. Bigelow has prototype inflatable space stations in orbit. And in 2004 Spaceship One became the first privately manned spaceship to reach Space. Note, SpaceX was able to build two new rockets, Falcon 1 and Falcon 9, as well as launch the prototype Dragon spaceship for under a billion dollars, a fraction of what it would have cost NASA..

What Mr Gingrich proposes is to bypass NASA. He wants a Moonbase to open up the Space Frontier but realises that it would be an expensive waste of money if NASA was given the job. So he wants 10% of NASA's budget to be spent on prizes. That has been one of the traditional ways frontiers have been opened. Prizes were used to explore Australia and to open up aviation. Spaceship One only flew because of the $10 million X-Prize. Reduce total expenditure by abolishing SLS and other wasteful spending and there will still be enough money for a Moonbase Prize. Remember prizes are only paid if they are won. If no Moonbase is built there will be no cost. Chances are however it will be built. It would challenge American innovation and enterprise, but there have been private Moonbase proposals for years . More would be developed. Theres no technical reason it couldn't be done.

In a few years there could be people living on the Moon. A base built not by government bureaucrats but by free men and women. An oasis of life on a dead world that would help destroy the dangerous socialist Only One Earth mentality. 

Ralph Buttigieg's professional career has included a couple of decades in government and management, proprietor of a Science Fiction & Fantasy bookshop, a stint in direct marketing and now finds himself in the finance industry. He joined the Liberal Party in 2008 and considers himself one of those right wing bogans who voted in John Howard in 1996.

Reform Taxation and Reform the States

Ralph-ButtigiegGive revenue control back to the states, writes Ralph Buttigieg.

Let’s face it, our state governments are a disgrace. Problems such as lack of public transport, poor roads and failing hospitals are primary the responsibility of the states but they seem incapable of doing much about them. So poor have state governments become at doing their job that there are increasing requests for the Commonwealth government to take over various responsibilities such as hospitals and even calls to abolish the states altogether.

It was not always so. Not all that long ago we had Premiers like Wran, Bolte and of course, Sir Joh, men who understood they were leaders and were willing to use the economic tools they had to maximize the economic development of their state. Increasingly our Premiers are degenerating into managers who at best do the bidding of the bureaucracy.

One of the reasons for the current state of affairs is that the States are losing control of their finances. The more dependent they become on Commonwealth grants the less responsibility they have and they can always blame Canberra for their woes. Say what you want about the pre-GST state taxes, but at least they were under the direct control of the State governments. The GST on the other hand is dished out accordingly to a formula without their direct control.

Recently there have been suggestions the GST rate be increased in order to cut federal taxes. The big problem with that is that the GST taxes are all allocated to the states. Merging it into a Commonwealth tax as well would just confuse the matter further.

Here's a better idea. The GST raises about $45 billion, income tax about $137 billion. So give the GST completely to the Commonwealth. At the same time transfer a percentage of the income tax base to the States. While we are at it transfer other federal grants the same way. It would be a tax collected by the feds but under the control of the states. The percentage would differ from state to state but that’s OK as the swap would be revenue neutral. However, if they want to cut or increase the tax they could do so. No longer would they need to beg the feds for funds. States would have an incentive to cut taxes to increase economic growth in their states. The Commonwealth government could increase the GST rate to cut other taxes.

Premiers would again be in control of their financial destiny and hopefully we would get better government.

Ralph Buttigieg's professional career has included a couple of decades in government and management, proprietor of a Science Fiction & Fantasy bookshop, a stint in direct marketing and now finds himself in the finance industry. He joined the Liberal Party in 2008 and considers himself one of those right wing bogans who voted in John Howard in 1996.

Five common misconceptions

Ralph Buttigieg details his top five myths in the Australian political system.

There are some commonly held political beliefs which make no sense but which a large proportion of the electorate seem to hold. It doesn't seem to matter how well educated the person is; these misconceptions have seeped into the national mindset are almost impossible to remove. Today I would like to share my top five with you.

I voted for the Prime Minister

“At the last election I voted Kevin Rudd to be Prime Minister.” No you didn't. At election time you and every other Australian voted for their local member. Even if you lived in Mr Rudd's electorate you only voted him to be your local MP, not PM. Unlike the Americans we do not directly elect our leaders. They are chosen by our parliamentarians. As any New South Welshman knows the party leader at the time of the election may not last the full term.

Minor parties can stop the government
“A handful of Greens (or any other minor party) are defying the will of the Australian people by blocking legislation!” No they are not. Minor parties only have a few elected representatives, that's why they are called minor parties. By themselves they can do little. They only have any influence if they vote with the Opposition. Considering that the Opposition has far more members then the minor party it makes more sense to blame them for any blocked legislation.

My taxes pay for my pension

“I paid taxes all my life so I deserve a pension!” Wrong. Taxes are not a savings scheme, all the taxes you paid have been used to fund the government's expenditure, including past pensions. There's no direct link between the amount of tax you paid and any pension entitlement. The government can toughen the means test, increase pension age etc. any time it wants. If you don't like it, tough.

It’s not a tax

Well, we don't call it tax, we're calling it an investment in human capital. Dr Sharman Stone MP on how Tony Abbott's paid maternity leave scheme will be funded. Sorry, if the government takes your money without your consent it’s a tax. What it is used for is beside the point.

“He/She is liar!” Maybe not. Just because someone says something which is not true does not make that person a liar. A lie is an untruth with an intention to deceive. If there is no deception involved it’s not a lie. The person could simply be mistaken or misinformed. I like to see some real evidence of intentional deception before a prominent politician is called a liar.
I'm sure people have their own favourites. Please share them in the comments section.

Ralph Buttigieg's professional career has included a couple of decades in government and management, proprietor of a Science Fiction & Fantasy bookshop, a stint in direct marketing and now finds himself in the finance industry. He joined the Liberal Party in 2008 and considers himself one of those right  wing bogans who voted in  John Howard in 1996.

To increase infrastructure spending reform welfare spending


There are other ways to manage infrastructure funding if we reform other areas of government spending, writes Ralph Buttigieg.

Infrastructure and its requirement for capital seems to be on everyone's mind at the moment. Most recently the Sydney Morning Herald reported a Price-Waterhouse study which claims we can not meet expected infrastructure demands due to a lack of capital. It demands we give up our cars, live in smaller homes and generally change our life styles. Drastic measures indeed but what about other options?
Well, a better option may be to increase our savings so we can have more capital. Now, having a government that collects in taxes about 30% of our GDP limits what we can save. Especially since so much of that tax is used to fund a social welfare system that discourages saving. Our welfare system is mostly income redistribution (the exception being the Superannuation Guarantee) it takes money from ordinary working mugs and gives it to people who aren't working or who the government thinks don't earn enough. A lot of this is just income churning, over your life time you get about the same amount back as taken. The main beneficiaries are the public servants who administer the schemes and the politicians who promote them. The last budget allocated $110,884 million for social security and welfare so if a reasonable percentage of that could be converted to savings there would be no lack of capital for infrastructure.
So how can we do this? How can we convert our welfare system to a “wealthfare” system, one based on savings and investment?
We could expand the Superannuation Guarantee into an Australian version of Singapore's Central Provident Fund. That depends on compulsory savings to provide Singaporeans with welfare benefits and capital for national development. However the compulsory saving rate is up to 34.5% (ouch) and I don't like compulsory anything nor do I trust government officials with my money. We need more liberal alternatives.
Back in the good old days of John Howard and budget surpluses Peter Saunders from the CIS proposed Personal Future Funds. All Australians would have such funds funded by the budget surpluses. Eventually the personal savings would replace unemployment benefits and allow voluntary medicare opt-outs. The days of budget surpluses are now over but perhaps there is still room in the budget to introduce such a scheme which could be expanded once the budget is back in the black.
Another option is to replace Income Tax with an Expenditure Tax. There are only two things people can do with their money, spend it or save it. An Expenditure Tax would allow the deduction all savings from income and what’s left over, expenditure would be taxed, preferably at a single rate. Combine the Expenditure Tax with welfare reforms that encouraged the replacement of state benefits with the extra personal saving and investments and we can start hacking into that $100 billion welfare bill.
I'm sure there are other alternatives but surely cutting taxes, reducing welfare expenditure, increasing savings and investment makes more sense then living in smaller houses and giving up our cars.

Ralph Buttigieg's professional career has included a couple of decades in government and management, proprietor of a Science Fiction & Fantasy bookshop, a stint in direct marketing and now finds himself in the finance industry. He joined the Liberal Party in 2008 and considers himself one of those right  wing bogans who voted in  John Howard in 1996.

Nukes for Defence

Ralph-Buttigieg Nuclear submarines may solve our ongoing submarine woes, writes Ralph Buttigieg.

The Rudd Labor government has a complete ban on nuclear energy for Australia. However concerns over global warming have increased support for the nuclear option. After all, nuclear energy is the only emission free method of producing base load power. Tony Abbott believes it’s an option we need to seriously consider. Peter Cosgrove has come out in support and so has Labor Party stalwart Bob Carr. Yet there is another reason to support nuclear power – defence.

Now I'm not considering nuclear weapons here. The only time that would be an option would be if there was a nuclear arms race in the region and we should all pray that never happens. My concern is nuclear propulsion for the navy, especially for our submarines.
Our six Collins class subs are classified as guided-missile submarines (SSG) while most other conventional submarines are hunter-killer (SSK). Most SSKs patrol close to their bases or at most 1000 nautical miles away. Our boats are required to operate at greater distances. To reach the Persian Gulf or the Sea of Japan the Collins boats need to travel over 4500 nautical miles.
Therefore they are considerably bigger then other conventional submarines and uniquely designed for our usage. That brings its own problems. It makes them more expensive and less reliable than a more common design would be. Importantly they never did meet their original design specifications. They were originally specified with a submerged transit speed of 16 knots over 10,000 nautical miles. That was reduced to 10 knots over 9000 nautical miles as the technology just wasn't available. The lower transit speed reduces the time they can spend on patrol by nearly half.
The government is now considering a replacement for the Collins subs. One option is an improved version of the current Collins boats but they would still have the speed limitations issues. That's why an increase to twelve subs has been proposed. Considering we have enough difficulty finding crews for six subs how we would crew twelve remains an unanswered question. Another option is to improve their performance by adopting new technology such as high temperature superconductor motors and Li-ion batteries. Again that raises concerns over their ultimate cost and reliability.
None of these problems would arise if we had nuclear subs based on proven designs. They would have all the range and speed we would require. A local nuclear power industry would make maintaining nuclear subs easier but it’s not really required. For one thing there is no direct link between civilian reactors and submarine reactors. Their design is very different with subs using highly enriched fuel. Also refuelling is not a requirement as modern submarines need to be only fuelled once for their 20 year plus service life. The maintenance and operation issues could be addressed by requesting US help until we train our own people. That's what the UK did that when they constructed their nuclear fleet. However the government ban on things nuclear means nuclear subs can not be considered.
Labor's ban on nuclear reactors not only reduces our options to reduce CO2 emissions but it also reduces our options to properly defend our nation.
Readers are referred to Vital Sign by Abraham Gubler in Defense Technology International April 2008 for more information regarding the current non nuclear options.

Ralph Buttigieg's professional career has included a couple of decades in government and management, proprietor of a Science Fiction & Fantasy bookshop, a stint in direct marketing and now finds himself in the finance industry. He joined the Liberal Party in 2008 and considers himself one of those right  wing bogans who voted in John Howard in 1996.

Let Liberal Party members elect the Leader

Ralph-ButtigiegWhy not follow the British Conservative Party method of electing leaders, asks Ralph Buttigieg.

Lets face it the Liberal Party is completely hopeless at electing its leaders. Its ridiculous that we are in our first term of opposition but are up to leader number three. There's nothing new about this of course, how many leaders did we go through last time until John Howard was elected leader? Remember it was his second go and he only got there because he was last man standing. The State situation is no better, NSW Liberals have been playing musical chairs for 15 years.

Under the current system we are constantly subject to leadership speculation. If the polls are bad the leader has to go, if they improve they can stay. Its a complete distraction from what we should be about – attacking the Labor Party. Also the leader is supposed to have the support of the Party members, but why should they? They had no part in their election. The end result is we spend a long time in opposition until we fluke someone who is electable and hopefully that person is a John Howard not some loser.

To me the solution is obvious, for the Liberal Party of Australia to adopt a system similar to what the UK Conservative Party has ie: to let the party members not just the parliamentarians elect the leader.

If the Conservatives have a leadership vacancy the parliamentarians chose two candidates , that way whoever becomes the leader will have the general support of their colleagues. Then those two have to go and sell themselves to the ordinary mug members. After a suitable time a ballot is held and who ever wins becomes the leader. That person remains the leader until he or she resigns or there is a spill. Importantly, unlike the Australian Democrats who had a similar system, they don't allow the party members to petition a spill. A spill can only be brought on by the parliamentarians. We want more stability not less. The person being spilled against can not stand for the forthcoming ballot.

The benefits are many. A united party. A leader who has the support of the members, the end of leadership speculation and perhaps most importantly, I believe it would rejuvenate the party. The ordinary members, the poor mugs who pays their 90 bucks, would have a direct say on who they want for the next Premier or Prime Minister.

Of course there are some negatives. There would be increased administrative costs. However democracy always has a price and besides internet voting would minimize those costs. Also what will we do with Queensland's National Liberal Party? Are they Liberals or Nationals? That's something that needs to be sorted out but would be irrelevant at the State level anyway. Properly the strongest opposition will come from various politicians who hope to use the current system to further their ambition, but there are some who would like to see such a change because the idea was first brought to my attention by Christopher Pyne MP.

So how about it? Lets have some grass roots democracy!
Ralph Buttigieg's professional career has included a couple of decades in government and management, proprietor of a Science Fiction & Fantasy bookshop, a stint in direct marketing and now finds himself in the finance industry. He joined the Liberal Party in 2008 and considers himself one of those right  wing bogans who voted in John Howard in 1996.