Rise of the Planet of the Bridging Visa

Back in 2010 I wrote  a small tidbit about Refugee’s and the myth of outrageous benefits being applied to them over and above our other welfare recipients.

As someone who dearly believes we as a nation have a social contract to look after those that cannot look after themselves while that state exists I have no desire to turn my back on refugee’s or the systems to look after and manage them.

Recently on the 25th of November 2011, our Immigration Minister Chris Bowen with the direct support of Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a policy shift to onshore community detention by way of granting bridging visa’s to irregular maritime arrivals (IMA) known commonly as boat people or asylum seekers.

This shift is the next stage in the legislative impasse between the opposition and the government , with the greens thrown in for added flavour.  I really dislike the issue of welfare being turned into a political basket ball game seeing who can score from the three point line and then rebound with a slam dunk.

Immigration policy should never be about point scoring and it should never get to the point where policy is introduced just for political gain.  What distresses me more then anything with this shift is we are now seeing Asylum seekers elevated to a level of support over and above those of our most vulnerable pensioners and low income families.

We have the situation where opposition leader Tony Abbott will never agree to bipartisan support for any type of reform, his and the entire Liberal ethos at the moment is to oppose, oppose, oppose regardless if it is in the interests of Australia or not.  This forces the Government into the arms of awaiting Greens which make untenable and unreasonable demands to get their support which the Government has to bow to in order to get anything done.

We all know what happens when someone has you over a barrel, you invariably get shafted and folks that’s exactly whats happening to us… we are being shafted as we have a weak opposition unwilling to put our needs first.  The Greens control over the Government has given us the Carbon Tax, and now it’s given us Immigration policy that offers no deterrent to irregular arrivals weather it be by air or sea.

Abbott wants Naru back on the cards, Gillard wants Malaysia, Greens want onshore community detention and that’s exactly what we are getting and Gillard is only to happy to face the media time and time again and say to us we have had to take this measures as Abbott won’t work with us, so really it’s his fault we have these people in our community now as parallel off shore processing can’t work without his support.

There is a lot of fear mongering that boarders on racial vilification that I really don’t want to get into, other then to say it plays no part in my dislike of this policy and to be clear I don’t really even have an issue with community detention.

What I have a issue with is these people getting more support then Australian’s receive,  under preexisting arrangements and legislation irregular arrivals only received benefits once a protection visa was granted after they were assessed as being true refugee’s with need of assistance and the level of benefits were the same as any other Australian.

What we have now with these bridging visa’s are groups of people being moved into the community while their status is determined.  They are provided housing, material aid and income support via the Red Cross but fully funded but the Department of Immigration and granted on the basis of ministerial discretion.

In south east Queensland the cost of this housing which is fully paid for by us the tax payer is on average $383 a week, with phone and electricity connections being covered as well.  That in itself is more then any Australian can hope to get from the Government in terms of housing support.  What’s more these rental properties are not housing commission dwellings these are private rentals.  This eclipses the support of rent assistance or even the National Affordable Housing Scheme.

Further once a property has been identified, it has to be setup to make it habitable which is reasonable but again it’s more then any Australian in need is provided.  Centrelink doesn’t take our needy down to the Good Guys or Fantastic Furniture to fit our their housing commission dwelling.

The average home starter package as provided by the Red Cross paid for by us the taxpayers runs at about $10,000 and includes items such as LCD Digital Televisions (our pensioners had to make do with a set top box), washing machines, bed suites, and lounges.  It also includes a hamper with essential home items like cleaning goods and groceries valued at $750.

This is all based on a family or grouping of 5 people, more people equals more money.  On top of this recipients can petition the Department of Immigration to have items such as bikes, computers, internet access and even iPods considered and granted to them.

89% of the Centrelink special benefit is then provided to individuals as income support which is comparable with Newstart Allowance, but with all other costs already covered such as rent, phone and power this is far an away more then what our Australian needy are left with.

Pretty sure I’ve never heard of any welfare benefit paid by Centrelink to Australians including any of these things.   I believe this is a step too far, if we can’t and won’t do these things for Australian’s in need we shouldn’t be doing it for anyone else either.  Welfare should start at home and be equitable for all those receiving it no matter the political points to be scored.

My other real concern with onshore community based processing of claims is that many asylum seekers often arrive with untreated medical conditions, some quite serious in nature.  Only this week we have seen arrivals at Christmas Island with typhoid fever which can have fatality rates as high as 47%.  We need strong quarantine measures and ensure correct medial examinations occur well before anyone gets out of mandatory detention.  In our agriculture we talk about having strong bio security,  this needs to be no different.

I am greatly disappointed in the Opposition and the Greens for allowing this imbalance to occur.  Since when does being Australian make you a second class citizen to irregular arrivals?

Chris Bowen has already confirmed that the majority of irregular arrivals are now in community detention under these measures.  That’s 1,145 people with more then that already moved through the community and onto protection visa’s.  Since 2010 when Gillard took office at the last election we’ve had 117 boats arrive with 6,897 people on board.  Higher then under Rudd, and with no deterrent in place to stop them only more will arrive till this political point scoring ceases and a real bipartisan solution is found.

It annoys me when Gillard says things like “we are committed to strong protection of our borders“, this has nothing to do with border protection.  This is about doing the right thing, and creating a policy frame work that not only protects asylum seekers but protects every day Australian’s as well while providing adequate levels of support to people as they progress through their changing circumstances.

Today I believe we have gone beyond any reasonable measure of assistance and need to pull it back in line, even for a socialist like me this is hard to justify and I can’t.

What goes around comes around…

Campbell Newman, leader of the Liberal National Party is having a bit of a sook today over flak being thrown his way by Queensland Labour over not declaring his interests in the pecuniary register.

Now strictly speaking he doesn’t have to, he’s not a sitting member of parliament, nor is he the Lord Mayor of Brisbane.  However he would be Premier, and in contesting the seat of Ashgrove at the next election I frankly think the man who would be king should reflect the standards we expect of our elected officials and have an open book policy.

Back in April when Campbell Newman won preselection for the LNP and resigned as Lord Mayor he went on the records saying “We will be open and accountable and plan for the future, not the daily media cycle.”

Open and accountable, well lets look at what he is crying foul over.  As we all know earlier this year South East Queensland was subjected to flooding not seen since January 1974, and it was every bit as bad with the loss of 35 lives and sum $30 billion in damage inflicted.

What should be on the mind of the Lord Mayor and his partner?  Helping Queensland or making a quick buck?  Seems it was the latter, Lisa Newman the wife of Campbell Newman became a director and secretary of Majella Global Technologies which was first registered on the 21st of January 2011 by her brother.

Who just a day earlier had emailed John Bradley, who at the time was the director general f the Department of Environment and Resource Management trying to sell the companies profile in disaster management.

It doesn’t matter that this company didn’t receive any business from the Queensland Government or Brisbane Council, what matters is that Campbell and Lisa Newman thought it was appropriate in January in the midst of this disaster to actively tender for business to profit off the misfortune of the people of Queensland.  This wasn’t some going concern, they deliberately setup this company to take financial advantage of the situation.

Did this interest appear on the Lord Mayor Campbells last declaration to the pecuniary register? no it did not, and it should have, even if Lisa Campbell by then has resigned her position as a director of the campany.

How can Can Do Campbell tell us he will be open and transparent when he refuses to disclose his interests, and while he may not have a legal obligation as such while unelected, surely he has a moral one.

The real problem I think Campbell has here is the heat being placed on his wife Lisa, well Campbell what goes around comes around and you had no qualm throwing fist fulls of mud as Anna Bligh’s husband, Greg Withers back in July.

I’ll chalk this one up to Karma.   Take some rapid set and harden up Can Do!

When does wrong become right?

This probably won’t be a very popular subject nor do I envisage my point of view being popular either however I will try and not let that deter my resolve to say my bit on the matter.

Recently David Hicks has hit the headlines in Queensland again because his new book “My Journey” is up for the premiers literary award and out comes the media of ignorance wanting to shut him down and quieten his voice.  I am reminded at this time of a quote from John F. Kennedy “Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors“, what do we have to fear from this book?  does it go against the establishment so badly that we must silence it?

For myself it’s not weather I agree with what David Hicks did or not, honestly for me it’s not about that, it’s a question of what we did, what Australia did and what we supported.  How can we deem the actions of one individual to be wrong and then deem the actions of our Nation to be right when materially they were the same.

The only thing David Hicks was successfully convicted of was “providing material support for terrorism” and that was in a hostile United States military commission that many internationally still take acceptation to and probably with good reason but that in itself is probably a subject all in it’s own so I won’t go into that.  I have a feeling this will be long winded as it is.

What I do want to go into however is the topic of material support for terrorism, why it troubles me and how I see it pertaining to David Hicks.  My take on David Hicks is the dude’s just not that bright, do I believe he wantonly wanted to go off and support terrorism? no not at all.  I feel he was misguided and impulsive without a good steering influence on his life, seeking a place to belong and latched on to something he thought he could believe in.

David Hicks is portrayed to be a bad bad man, so bad the United Stated had to create retrospective laws to charge him with.  Lets then start at the beginning of Davids terrorist activities according to the United States statement of facts as per his charge sheets.

Albania 1999, David joined the ranks of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) after seeing their struggle in a documentary in Japan and decided to travel to Albania to join them where he completed a 4 week military training course.  The United States saw the KLA as a terrorist group until 1998 when it was de-listed and the UK and US opened diplomatic relations with them.  So by the time David Hicks arrived  he was on the right “Team“.

During the months David was with the KLA it transformed  itself into the Kosovo Protection Corps working with NATO and being armed by the United States, in fact the former head of the KLA went on to become the Prime Minister of Kosovo.  After being little more then a tourist David returned home to Australia, at no time did David pick up arms or enter the battlefield in Kosovo.

By this point we can see David temptation for adventure? and wanting to do something that he thought would make a difference no matter how misguided he may be?  David next took interest in East Timor and tried to enlist in the Australian Army but was rejected due to his poor educational levels having left school at the age of 14.  I think this in itself speaks volumes, did David truly grasp where the path he was traveling would take him?

By the end of 1999 David was on the move again and in November traveled to Pakistan to study Islam and take up with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in early 2000.

The LeT has an interesting back story that we will take a look at, firstly though I would take note that the LeT wasn’t listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States until December 26th, 2001 and similarly not by Australia until April 11th, 2003 well after the war on terror commenced and after the attacks of September 11th, 2001 which precipitated it.

Why is that?  How was David Hicks to identify these groups as terrorist if we didn’t?  What indicators where available to say these guys might be on the wrong side?  Maybe it was just for the first time in his life people accepted David.  I wish it was just sloppy intelligence but alas the truth is more sinister then that.  The LeT were an instrument of Pakistan supported by the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan with close links to the 12th Infantry Division of the Pakistani Army founded to take up arms against India after 1990 as hostilities increased.

It was more then likely with the 12th Infantry Division that David Hicks toured with and mentioned in his letter of August 10, 2000 to his mother that  he had been the guest of the Pakistan Army for two weeks in their war against India having been able to fire hundreds of bullets across the boarder legally.

So the LeT was funded by the ISI, and where did funding for the ISI come from?  Pakistan? no, unfortunately the ISI’s funding came from the United States and Saudi Arabia using Pakistan as an intermediary to launder the funds.  WTF right?  Why would the United States do this?  To answer that we have to go back in time to 1978 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

The United States in a move to weaken Soviet Russia as part of the cold war strategy in 1979 began to fund anti-government militant groups (can you say terrorists) through the ISI.  During the Soviets decade long occupation of Afghanistan from 1978 – 1988 the United States and Saudi Arabia injected in excess of $40 billion to these anti-government militant groups under the banner of Mujahideen including what would go on to become the LeT, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda.  By 1987 over 65,000 tons of United States munitions per year was being handed over to the likes of Osama bin Laden, and Mohammed Omar who went on to be the founder of the Taliban by the ISI.  While the United States provided the funding and weapons through operation cyclone, the training of the groups was carried out by the Pakistani Armed Forces and the ISI.

Osama bin Laden was a close ally of Hamid Gul, who was a three star general in the Pakistani Army and also the head of the ISI.  During the Mujahideen bin Laden was a key player in the arranging of training camps and the funneling of war assets into Afghanistan.

Anyone watch the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” staring Tom Hanks?  Cause it’s entirely about this very subject, hell they are so proud of it they made a Hollywood movie.  Tell me again who is guilty of providing material support to terrorists?

So when we talk about the LeT it’s impossible to ignore the links to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda as they all had the same father Uncle Sam and shared the same up bringing.  David Hicks has always maintained he hadn’t heard of the term Al-Qaeda until after his capture and I am inclined to believe him since our very own highly educated Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) didn’t see fit to mention Al-Qaeda in any of their annual reports to the government prior to 2001-2002 as an external threat.

They just simply weren’t on the radar, and the United States while knowing exactly who and what they were didn’t want to bring too much focus on their would be children.  To this day it is believed that Pakistan still support the LeT via the ISI even though officially after the attacks of September 11, 2001 they too declared them an illegal terrorist group.

In January 2001 when David Hicks was funded by the LeT and introduced to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Taliban was seen by Australia as the de facto legal government of Afghanistan going so far as having diplomatic recognition for the state.  Indeed after the twin towers attacks the United States made diplomatic demands of the Taliban to hand over the leaders of Al-Qaeda or face attack.  It wasn’t till after this ultimatum was refused by the Taliban on September 21, 2001 that the Taliban government was deemed in need of removal by the international community and a United Nations resolution passed.

When David Hicks moved from Pakistan to Afghanistan, he was moving from the legal army of one nation to another.   David can’t speak the language,  nor has a grasp of international relations or politics so his grasp on what was going on around him would have been limited at best.  Between 1996 and 2001 Al-Qaeda was a state within the Taliban state, most of the camps used by the Taliban were setup by bin Laden as part of the Mujahideen so it’s of little surprise that David Hicks found himself in a training camp with links to Al-Qaeda after all many a CIA agent had used and visited these same camps, hell even the odd US Senator did.

On September 9th, 2001 David had left Afghanistan and returned to Pakistan to visit a friend it was during this visit he saw the coverage of the twin towers attacks on the 11th and frankly I think David shit himself.  He immediately returned to Afghanistan to retrieve his passport which he had handed over to the Taliban when he arrived in January so he could go home.

I am of the opinion things quickly escalated around David and he was caught in a tide hard to swim against.  Much is made of the fact he was given an AK-47 and choose to go to the Airport to guard a Taliban tank for all of two hours.  For starters everyone over there carried an AK-47 even farmers and if I was looking to get home being at the airport rather then in the mountains would seem a pretty good bet to me.  Seriously he guarded a tank for two hours, maybe he was keeping up appearances?  I don’t think I’d want to stand up in the middle of the Taliban and say hey um guys thanks but if it’s all the same to you I will go home with the good guys now.  He’d probably be shot on the spot as an infidel.

We know that between September 11th and his capture on December 9th David did not fire a single shot, was not involved in any action against Australia or her allies in fact David spend most of the time on the lamb hiding trying to work out how to extradite himself from this mess.  His final act was to sell the assets he had ie his AK-47 to catch a Taxi back to Pakistan to try and escape, when David was captured he was unarmed no where near the fighting and was looking to go home.

When David was sold to the United States he was declared an enemy combatant, which is a historical term referring to members of the armed forces with which another state is at war.  What followed is a legal travesty and a insult to every Australians basic human rights, David Hicks was held without charge from 2001 till 2004 and even then the charges laid against him where deemed to be unconstitutional by the United States supreme court and reversed.  It wasn’t until 2007 that new revised charged were filed.   That’s more then 5 years without facing legal justice.

The Geneva convention lists a prisoner of war as a legal combatant of which the main provision makes it illegal to torture prisoners and applies from the moment of capture to the time they are released or repatriated.  When looking at the definition of a legal privileged combatant under the convention it states they are members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government.

So David was by the United States statement of facts defending a Taliban tank who were the de facto government of Afghanistan, this would make him a privileged combatant under to Geneva convention to which Australia and the United States are signatories.

David has claimed many a time he was tortured and signed his charge sheet under duress, I’d say 5 years locked in a hole is duress wouldn’t you?

George W. Bush stated in 2009 “This Government does not torture people.  I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world.  The United States does not torture.  It’s against our laws and it’s against our values.  I have not authorised it and I will not authorise it.”

So torture is illegal, that makes it a crime and crimes are punishable right?  But it’s okay cause the United States doesn’t do it right?

George W. Bush affirmed in his 2010 memoirs “Decision Points”  that he told CIA officials that they could torture terrorism suspects and that he would do it again.  President Barrack Obama in a press conference to mark his first 100 days in office made an unequivocal statement “I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever the legal rationals were used, it was a mistake.

President Obama went on further to say “I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British, during world war two, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees.  And Churchill said ‘we don’t torture’, when all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat.  And the reason was that Churchill understood you start taking shortcuts, and over time, that corrodes what’s best in a people.  It corrodes the character of a country.”

Given that David Hicks is not the only person nor the only Australian to claim to have been tortured in Cuba at the hands of the United States and given that George W. Bush admits it was happening I think it’s a fair bet to say it happened to David and that it was not only illegal, immoral but also wrong.

If you were kept in those conditions, under that treatment for that long you too might be willing to say or sign anything to get out.

On August 2nd, 2005 former Prime Minister John Howard rejected the possibility of David Hicks being tried in Australia as there were no laws covering his alleged offenses at the time.

David Hicks broke no Australian laws, was tortured, held without charge for more then five years and yet we want to silence him from telling his story?  Sorry however misguided he is I want to hear it.  Do we really want an Australia that is okay with it’s people being treated in this manner by those that would call us friend?

When do we as a Nation, as a group of Nations stop, stand up and take note of the mistakes we’ve made and decide to stop repeating them.  Even now in Libya we support a movement exactly the same as the Mujahideen with CIA operatives on the ground Libya supporting NATO’s air strikes, and well as the rebel leadership.

The United Kingdom has ordered the elite 22nd SAS Regiment to render assistance to rebels in the manhunt for Muammar Gaddafi, whom a bounty of $1.6 million has been placed dead or alive… really is this right?  is this what we stand for?  The crack troops have donned Arab clothing and carry the same types of weapons as the rebel fighters in a bid to blend in.

Explain to me how this behavior is any different to what David Hicks did, except David was an uneducated fool and we as Nations should know better.

When I think about the charge of “providing material support for terrorism” I can’t help remember the billions of dollars injected into Al-Qaeda and the Taliban along with the weapons to wage war.  The Training Australia and the United States have long provided to Pakistan who then trained these terrorist under another name.

Who taught the Taliban to make improvised explosive devices? Where did the funds come from to train Al-Qaeda to fly air liners?  It wasn’t the Soviets cause they were the enemy… lets face facts and be honest for once and drop the spin.  We did it, the West we taught these people how to kill us and we gave them the money to do it.  If any one is guilty of supporting terrorism it’s all of us through our fear and past actions.

It will keep happening till we learn as a society that we can’t force political change on others, it needs to be an evolution not a revolution and that it’s differences that make the world an interesting place just cause we don’t agree with someone and we have the might it doesn’t make it right to set out to destroy them and install our own vision of that the world should look like.

What have we achieved?  I see David Hicks as a victim of  himself, his environment our society that says it alright to do these things.  He may have been wrong, he may well be guilty, but since when do two wrongs make a right?  I don’t want my children learning the ends justify the means, there has to be a line in the sand you won’t cross because it’s the wrong thing to do because we as a people are unwilling to sacrifice our ideals and principals.

I used to see us, Australia, the Commonwealth as being on the side of right even in the face of uncertainly and over whelming odds.. that’s the Anzac legend that’s who we are meant be, we’re meant to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves.  Instead I feel like we have been led into the dark, jumping at our own shadows because someone is different, we are turning into a bully taking kids lunch money in the form of oil fields.

I wonder what Weary Dunlop would say, I think we could use a lighthouse of sanity in a universe of madness and suffering once more.

My guide to NOT buying online…

It’s hard not to hear or read about Gerry Harvey and consumers talking about the downfall of the Australian retail sector and watch them speculate on the causes and how to fix it recently given the media coverage it’s currently getting.

I will agree that at the core of this is people are buying online, but what I disagree with is the reasons people buy online.  Gerry Harvey would have us believe it’s all about price and that online sales don’t attract the GST, sorry Gerry that’s not it at all.

The simple fact is the retail sector gives us consumers very little reason to buy from them, seriously what do they offer us?  A store like Harvey Norman wacks a minimum 30% GP on everything they sell and then some but in return what do they provide me the consumer?  I have never once walked into a Harvey Norman and been in awe of the depth of knowledge of the sales staff, or made to feel important and that they were there to help… in fact I’ve been made to feel the very opposite.

So given the option of buying from Mr Harvey at an added 30% markup or online I think I will go online as at the end of the day they are both just a place to get something.

In times past when things weren’t so tight consumers where more willing to pay that extra 30% despite a fundamental lack of service or value add because they wanted it now, right now not later it was shiny and we all like shiny things and you could take it home and play with it that very day.  Of course that was a luxury of good times, and now times aren’t so hot so even the well off are more conscientious about how and when they spend their hard earned so now people are willing to wait for the post to arrive to get their shiny new goods in order to less, a lot less.

The only way for the Australian retail sector to combat this is with good honest to god service and a willingness to go the extra mile and make it easier for consumers to do business with them.  This means know more about the products which it sells then the consumer buying them.  Far too often I am educating the person whom is supposed to be selling the goods I am interested in, or they spend an hour on the phone scrambling to find answers to a common question about the product.

So number one product knowledge is king, it makes consumers confident.  Be honest, if a product is not right for the consumer’s needs say so and offer alternatives but be genuine about it that is to say don’t simply steer the consumer at another product simply because that’s what you sell be up front about your motives as consumers are like elephants ie they have long memories.

Retail is all about relationships, you treat consumers right and they will invariably treat you right if you give them a reason to.  Sure today you might not get the margin you want or you might lose a sale by giving them the right feedback, but they remember this and on the next purchase and the one after that you will make it back in spades let me assure you.

Now thirdly and a bit more on topic for the title of this entry is about price and the internet.  I hear retailers lament about the internet and the trouble it cause them as consumers come in to tire kick and then buy online at a cheaper price once they have pawed the retailers wares.  To be honest I know this happens quite a lot and I really don’t understand why as a consumer you’d do this, people you have it back to front.

If you know you want a product or have need of a product, research it online that’s why god gave as google.  Learn as much as you need to make an informed choice about what you want, and then start hunting prices.  Get a median average online cost, make sure you are realistic and include freight.  I always try to get pricing from Australian online retailers as well as over seas.

Now you are in a position of power, you are armed with knowledge, you have a price in mind that you should be paying it’s time to go talk to the local retailers.  Often with retailers you get one bite at this so make it count be ready to do the deal, do not waste your time or theirs testing the water.  You’ve done your research you know what a good buy is, you set the price you want to pay.

Here is my hard and fast rule if they will not negotiate on price just walk away, I have been known to ring their direct competitor for directions to their store in front of them as it sends the point home for them.

Don’t buy this “oh we can only price match another quote” get real, come on retailers this is the most absurd policy I have ever heard.  What school of business did you go to that told you sending a consumer that’s standing in front of you wanting to do a deal to your competitor was a smart move?  Hello are you insane?  Given the local climate you never ever want to expose your customer to another avenue of business.  Hell if I can get a better price from your competitor why would I deal with you again?

Now I will admit at this point some gamesmanship comes into play, often I will say to a salesmen mate is that the best you can do and they will go um let me see and say X and I will go hmm you know what X sounds better to me… they will give me a line about oh we can’t do it for that, that’s too cheap… next thing I say is oh well pretty sure I can get it from Fred at X store for that but since I always shop here I thought I’d buy it from you, hey I thought you wouldn’t be beaten on price.  This invariably leads to them talking to their manager, who will come over and say wow that’s a great price.

This is the moment to seal the deal, you again state you want to pay X for the item, and you want to pay for it now and do the deal… fast transactions are a wonderful thing to a retailer and the smart ones know that once they have built a rapport with you that you will keep coming back so over time they will always make out better then letting you walk away.

Being willing to play the salesmen yourself will give you the result you want every time I promise, you get the price you want to pay, you get the shiny right there and then and you support your local retailer.

Be mindful though, I reward good businesses, if a retailer treats me right and provides a good level of service I am more then willing to pay a premium for it.  Price is NOT everything, but in the absence of service or a value add unfortunately a good 90% of retailers reduce themselves to just that.

I am quite a loyal customer, if they do the right thing by me I will do the right thing by them, but I will never be taken for a ride… next time you feel the urge to buy something online please give your local retailer a change, even if you have to educate them a bit about this process, I promise you time and time again it’s worth it and you can create lasting relationships that mean you don’t have to go through the routine repeadly.

My last piece of advice is simple, use peoples names, read their name tag and use it… make it a human transactions not a financial one.





Thermal Coal Fired Power, Some Facts…

I had this emailed to me yesterday and thought it was very telling, so I am going to reproduce it here for you all to see.  It was written by T.L Cardwell and was addressed to the Editor of the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin.  I would invite Larissa Waters the Greens Senator I voted for and we helped get Elected to respond to this as I am a bit miffed by this Pseudo Green Carbon Tax policy that as far as I am concerned does nothing for our environment.

Mr Cardwell spent 25 years in the Electricity Commission of NSW working, commissioning and operating various power units.  The last being the four 350 megawatt Munmorah power stations new Newcastle.

I have sat by for a number of years, frustrated at the rubbish being put forth about carbon dioxide emissions, thermal coal fired power stations and renewable energy and the ridiculous Emissions Trading Scheme.

Frustration at the lies told (particularly during the election) about global pollution. Using Power Station cooling towers for an example – the condensation coming from those cooling towers is as pure as that that comes out of any kettle.

Frustration about the so-called incorrectly named man-made ‘carbon emissions’ which of course is Carbon Dioxide emissions and what it is supposedly doing to our planet.

Frustration about the lies told about renewable energy and the deliberate distortion of renewable energy and its ability to replace fossil fuel energy generation. And frustration at the ridiculous carbon credit programme which is beyond comprehension.

And further frustration at some members of the public who have not got a clue about thermal Power Stations or Renewable Energy. Quoting ridiculous figures about something they clearly have little or no knowledge of.

First coal fired power stations do NOT send 60 to 70% of the energy up the chimney. The boilers of modern power station are 96% efficient and the exhaust heat is captured by the economisers and reheaters that heat the air and water before entering the boilers.

The very slight amount exiting the stack is moist as in condensation and CO2. There is virtually no fly ash because this is removed by the precipitators or bagging plant that are 99.98% efficient. The 4% lost is heat through boiler wall convection.

Coal-fired Power Stations are highly efficient with very little heat loss and can generate a massive amount of energy for our needs. They can generate power at efficiency of less than 10,000 b.t.u. per kilowatt and cost-wise that is very low.

The percentage cost of mining and freight is very low. The total cost of fuel is 8% of total generation cost and does NOT constitute a major production cost.

As for being laughed out of the country, China is building multitudes of coal-fired power stations because they are the most efficient for bulk power generation.

We have, like, the USA , coal-fired power stations because we HAVE the raw materials and are VERY fortunate to have them. Believe me no one is laughing at Australia – exactly the reverse, they are very envious of our raw materials and independence..

The major percentage of power in Europe and U.K. is nuclear because they don’t have the coal supply for the future.

Yes it would be very nice to have clean, quiet, cheap energy in bulk supply. Everyone agrees that it would be ideal. You don’t have to be a genius to work that out. But there is only one problem—It doesn’t exist.

Yes – there are wind and solar generators being built all over the world but they only add a small amount to the overall power demand.

The maximum size wind generator is 3 Megawatts, which can rarely be attained on a continuous basis because it requires substantial forces of wind. And for the same reason only generate when there is sufficient wind to drive them. This of course depends where they are located but usually they only run for 45% -65% of the time, mostly well below maximum capacity. They cannot be relied on for a ‘base load’ because they are too variable. And they certainly
could not be used for load control.

The peak load demand for electricity in Australia is approximately 50,000 Megawatts and only small part of this comes from the Snowy Hydro Electric System (the ultimate power Generation) because it is only available when water is there from snow melt or rain. And yes, they can pump it back but it costs to do that. (Long Story).

Tasmania is very fortunate in that they have mostly hydro-electric generation because of their high amounts of snow and rainfall. They also have wind generators (located in the roaring forties) but that is only a small amount of total power generated.

Based on an average generating output of 1.5 megawatts (of unreliable power) you would require over 33,300 wind generators.

As for solar power generation much research has been done over the decades and there are two types.

Solar thermal generation and Solar Electric generation but in each case they cannot generate large amounts
of electricity.

Any clean, cheap energy is obviously welcomed but they would NEVER have the capability of replacing Thermal Power Generation. So get your heads out of the clouds, do some basic mathematics and look at the facts, – not going off with the fairies (or some would say the extreme greenies.)

We are all greenies in one form or another and care very much about our planet. The difference is most of us are realistic. Not in some idyllic utopia where everything can be made perfect by standingaround holding a banner and being a general pain in the backside..

Here are some facts that will show how ridiculous this financial madness is that the government is following. Do the simple maths and see for yourselves.

According to the ‘believers’ the CO2 in air has risen from .034% to .038% in air over the last 50 years.

To put the percentage of Carbon Dioxide in air in a clearer perspective;

If you had a room 12 ft x 12 ft x 7 ft or 3.7 mtrs x 3.7 mtrs x 2.1 mtrs, the area carbon dioxide would occupy in that room would be .25m x ..25m x ..17m or the size of a large packet of cereal.

Australia emits 1% of the world’s total carbon Dioxide and the government wants to reduce this by 20%t or reduce emissions by 0.2 % of the world’s total CO2 emissions.

What effect will this have on existing CO2 levels?

By their own figures they state the CO2 in air has risen from .034% to .038% in 50 years.

Assuming this is correct, the world CO2 has increased in 50 years by ..004%.

Per year that is .004 divided by 50 = …00008%. (Getting confusing -but stay with me).

Of that because we only contribute 1% our emissions would cause CO2 to rise .00008 divided by 100 = ..0000008%.

Of that 1%, we supposedly emit, the governments wants to reduce it by 20% which is 1/5th of .0000008 = …00000016% effect per year they would have on the world CO2 emissions based on their own figures.

That would equate to an area in the same room, as the size of a small pin.

For that they have gone crazy with the ridiculous trading schemes, Solar and Roofing Installations, Clean Coal Technology. Renewable Energy, etc, etc.

How ridiculous it that?

The cost to the general public and industry will be enormous. Cripple and even closing some smaller businesses.

Whilst I don’t agree with the assertion that it will be crippling to our industry or economy it certainly won’t help… The cost will be far more then is being quoted by the Government and far less then that being quoted by the opposition, it will meet in the middle some where.

What has me feeling betrayed and disheartened is that the Greens are meant to be about the environment and the best they can come up with is a botched fiscal policy if the form of an emissions trading scheme which as proven to be a dud the world over?  Sorry but it just doesn’t cut it and it certainly won’t save the barrier reef… it’ll be business as usual.  The Greens have totally failed, and whats more they know they have failed yet continue to support a policy that will inflict more pain, more hurt on Australian families.

“We are here in the process of saving the Great Barrier Reek, Kakadu, Ningaloo, the snow country right across the south-east of Australia: our biodiversity, the wonderful wildlife of this nation both on land and in our oceans,” Senator Brown said.

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne said the $10 billion renewable energy fund was a Greens initiative that recognised that the $23 a tonne price “isn’t high enough to drive the revolution in renewables that we need”.

So the greens know full well that the creation of a emission permits commodity market will to nothing to change the way the “polluters” do business and won’t drive green technology, so I have to ask what the hell is the point?  Why are you doing it and supporting it?

We don’t need band aid solutions that have the ability to inflict great harm needlessly, if you are going to do something do it properly.  To quote someone I revere “No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.”

Right now I have the election blues… but I can tell you now the Greens have had the last vote they’ll get from me any time soon.


Carbon tax is not Green…

When I think of environmental policy I don’t think of a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme, they leave me wondering what good they actually do for the environment around us.

How does this policy result in greener water ways, less destruction of our forests, a cleaner atmosphere, or a reduction in fossil fuel usage?

Surely to combat climate change we need environmental policy not more fiscal policy? This move to create a low carbon economy to me at least appears nothing more then conservative politics to give the money men a new financial playground at the expense of the consumer and local communities in developing nations.

Julia Gillard’s carbon tax is really just placing a fixed price on carbon permits till an emissions trading framework can be introduced. The legislation that goes before the house will be for an ETS not a carbon tax.

It seems Australia is set to embark on a domestic cap-and-trade emissions scheme, where by polluters can buy their way out of their obligations to the environment and pass on those costs to us the consumers while adding in a bit extra to cover the cost of doing business under the ETS.

Sure you the end user can do you bit and reduce your “carbon” foot print by changing your light bulbs and buying that prius etc but at the end of the day it’s not the consumer that creates these emissions it’s big business and resource infrastructure.

A cap-and-trade scheme has two sides, the first being to cap pollution and the second works by creating a commodities market where companies can trade emission permits. A company must hold enough permits to cover their pollution, so if a company goes over the cap they must acquire additional emission permits off the market from a company with spare emission permits to sell.

The problem I have with this is does this really encourage companies to go out of their way to restructure their business to reduce emission’s or are we just creating another false financial industry?

lets look at the European Union for a moment where an ETS and been operating since 2005 and is the largest multinational ETS in the world. How has this effected emission out put there? Well to be blunt it hasn’t, it’s been modest at best. In fact the big polluters ended up with a credit windfall as they were issued credit to begin with to cover their historical pollution levels.

More emission permits were granted in the EU then there were emissions, this resulted in the value of permits falling dramatically and the EU introducing a tighter command and control method that economists say should be avoided at all costs to reduce the cap.

Business always takes the path of least cost, when deciding on a course of action. Carbon trading actually encourages business to continue on as usual as emission permits are frequently more available from less developed nations and are a cheaper solution then long term structural changes to the business. This is magnified when those costs can be directly past onto the consumer.

All a global ETS does is allow countries like Australia to buy in emission permits from countries with less infrastructure at the expense of the population of those countries. Lets look as Zimbabwe as a hypothetical ruled by a dictator with little regard for his people and an out of control economy. We as a developed nation provide a new free export market to Zimbabwe in the form of emission permits what incentive is there for the leaders of that nation to better the lot of his people when he can sell their poverty and lack of infrastructure to us in the civilised world?

Still a if there must be an ETS surely a global agreement is the only way to go, how does this effect the level playing field of international markets? Industry leaders will tell you that if goods are imported from a nation without a carbon price then surely we must place a tariff on those goods, which just leads to “green protectionism” placing a burden on nations that may not be equipped to cope with these extra costs.

Domestically if we look at LNG which is a massive emerging resources industry here in Queensland it competes on a world stage with countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Omen, Qatar, and Eastern Russia all of whom have no carbon price, and are not likely to introduce one. This could have a crippling effect on this industry as it tries to complete while having an extra tax placed upon it.

Of course our government likes the ETS, it’s something that’s on the world stage in the EU and wants to be seen as proactive, and of course lets not forget it creates a new revenue stream.

But lets me honest what is this market based approach to control pollution actually achieving, shouldn’t a greener, healthier environment be the basic tenant of any environmental policy?

This new economic theory may well create the worlds largest commodities market, and employ all those failed hedge fund mangers looking for jobs after the GFC but it could also create a state of emission leakage where domestic action to reduce emissions leads to the increase in global emissions by companies simply moving production to new less environmentally friendly places and ramping up that production.

Surely an ETS is environmentally ineffective, from the EU and every other ETS market alive today we can see they have resulted in scant all emission reductions, nor green jobs, nor technology. No what we need dear friends is a new radical approach to this problem, one that shifts societies thinking and beliefs with a focus on new technology that leaves whats left of the worlds fossil fuels safely underground.

When Julia tells you that she won’t put her ETS or carbon tax on petrol you know the policy is a dud. We need real policy and real incentives to change our ways not on the consumer level but at the supply end of the spectrum. Lets make it cheaper for business to restructure then to continue on in the old ways… to make it work it has to work on the balance sheets for industry and while emission permits exist as a cheaper option that’s the path business will travel.

Put in place the command and control regulations, and support emerging green technology on a large scale, don’t tax them give them R&D breaks, reduce their payroll tax etc etc etc. Use the tools to enable a new green industry don’t introduce economic theory that maintains the status quo and makes my investment banker more money, he doesn’t need it and the platypus doesn’t care.

The Myth of Buyer Beware

Hello to the folks at whirlpool reading this… hope you find it helpful… – diomedes

I have always had a problem with the statement, it implies every one you do a transaction with is or could be shonky and well I just hate feeling like that’s the case.  It’s akin to the glass is half empty and most people that know me know how much I despise that view.

So to you the consumer I say buy with confidence and if something comes up then take solace in knowing you have the tools and protections to deal with them.

In Australia we are blessed to have the Trade Practices Act 1974 for transactions prior to January 2011 and for those new transactions we now have the Australian Consumer Law 2010 which provides greater protections while clearing up some ambiguities of the TPA.

What do these rights really mean to you?  At the heart of any transaction is the “contract”, we often don’t think of them like that as a consumer but that’s exactly what they are and all contracts have terms.  All contracts should have terms that align themselves with each party to the contact.

When you buy a house or enter into other financial arrangements you would generally sit down with the other party and hash those out, however when buying consumer goods this really doesn’t happen and you are left with terms as set down by the vendor leaving you without much of a say about anything other then to accept their terms.

It is the job of the TPA and now the ACL to be your voice in these contracts and set down binding terms on the vendor.  I should also point out that for the sake of the Act consumer rights generally apply to goods and or services not exceeding $40,000, but there are acceptions to this and it’s best to check your circumstances.

I live by two hard and fast rules when buying anything, never pay list price and never buy an extended warranty.  Extended warranties aren’t worth the paper they are written on as they are redundant, you already have ample protections that extend past the manufacturers expressed voluntary warranty period.

So lets talk about this for a moment, when you buy some kind of goods lets say white goods for example and the manufacturer says they provide a 12 month warranty this is the voluntary expressed manufacturers warranty.  However under the act your rights as a consumer  are compensatory with what you paid for it and what any reasonable person would expect.

This is outlined on page 10 of the Warranties and Refunds document from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission which states;

How long do consumers’ statutory rights apply?

Statutory rights are not limited to a set time period. Instead, they apply for the amount of time that is reasonable to expect, given the cost and quality of the item.

This means a consumer may be entitled to a remedy under their statutory rights after any manufacturers’s voluntary or extended warranty has expired.

So when you as a consumer purchases an appliance or other goods that cost say $1000 and it comes with a 12 months manufacturers warranty and then those goods fail after say 18/24 months the manufacturer will by default tell you sorry it’s out of warranty and this is where your Statutory rights kick in as in the contract of sale you have an implied Statutory warranty.

The basis comes down to would a reasonable person expect this $1000 item to last longer then 18/24 months, and if so how long would a reasonable person expect the item to last and if they had known it wouldn’t last that long would they have made the purchase in the first place.

So when you write to the manufacturer to ask for your claim to be assessed it is important you tell them you are not claiming under their manufacturers warranty but your implied statutory warranty;

The item must be of merchantable quality when you purchased it, meaning it must meet basic levels of quality and performance that would be reasonable to expect considering it’s price, the manner in which it was promoted and the amount of usage it has provided over the period of time it has been in service.

The amount of benefit the item has provided being taken into consideration you believe the manufacturer is in breach of the sales contract and statutory terms provided under the law as outlined in No.51 – Section 71 and No.51 – Section 66 of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

Lets look at these two sections of the act as they both support our main contention that all goods must be of merchantable quality and fit for the purpose or purpose for which goods of that kind are commonly bought as it is reasonable to expect.

Section 71;

(1) Where a corporation supplies (otherwise than by way of sale by auction or sale by
competitive tender) goods to a consumer in the course of a business, there is an implied condition
that the goods supplied under the contract for the supply of the goods are of merchantable quality, except that there is no such condition by virtue only of this section –

(a) as regards defects specifically drawn to the consumer’s attention
before the contract is made; or

(b) if the consumer examines the goods before the contract is made, as
regards defects which that examination ought to reveal.

(2) Where a corporation supplies (otherwise than by way of sale by auction or sale by competitive
tender) goods to a consumer in the course of a business and the consumer, expressly or by
implication, makes known to the corporation or to the person by whom any antecedent
negotiations are conducted any particular purpose for which the goods are being acquired, there is
an implied condition that the goods supplied under the contract for the supply of the goods are
reasonably fit for that purpose, whether or not that is a purpose for which such goods are
commonly supplied, except where the circumstances show that the consumer does not rely, or that
it is unreasonable for him to rely, on the skill or judgment of the corporation or of that person.

In part one of  section 71 it clearly states good must be of merchantable quality this forms the back bone of the statutory warranty and is expanded upon later.  Then part two of section 71 is that any expressed or implied use you may have for the item that you convey to the manufacturer or their agents with whom you are negotiating form part of the terms of the contract.

What this means is if you buy an item and intend to use it in a non standard fashion outside the manufacturers normal operating methods and they still sell it to you without declaring it can not be used that way they are indirectly saying it’s fit for that purpose and it becomes a binding term of the sales contract.

Section 66;

(1) In this Division-

(a) a reference to the quality of goods includes a reference to the state or condition of the goods;

(b) a reference to a contract does not include a reference to a contract made before the
commencing date;

(c) a reference to antecedent negotiations in relation to a contract for the supply by a
corporation of goods to a consumer is a reference to any negotiations or arrangements
conducted or made with the consumer by another person in the course of a business carried on by
the other person whereby the consumer was induced to make the contract or which otherwise
promoted the transaction to which the contract relates; and

(d) a reference to the person by whom any antecedent negotiations were conducted is a
reference to the person by whom the negotiations or arrangements concerned were conducted or

(2) Goods of any kind are of merchantable quality within the meaning of this Division if they are as
fit for the purpose or purposes for which goods of that kind are commonly bought as it is
reasonable to expect having regard to any description applied to them, the price (if relevant) and
all the other relevant circumstances.

This is actually my favorite section of the act as it deals with the marketing smoke and mirrors manufacturers and retailers use to induce sales while trying to leave them external to the sales contact.  All of part one of section 66 deals with presale negations and representations.  From literature a manufacturer produces making claims of quality and life cycle to conversations you have with sales stuff who tell you this product is the best on the market fully engineered in Germany.  These references and dealings also form a term of the sales contract in the form of an expressed warranty under the act as they have made direct representations to you that help you form your purchase choice.

Saving the best for last is part two of section 66 which expands on part one of section 71, not only does it again make plan that goods have to be of merchantable quality and fit for purpose but it also adds the reasonable expectation.

Reasonable expectation cuts both ways, in that there is no time limit applied as we saw earlier from the ACCC but what does have to be taken into consideration is the amount of benefit provided.  The act takes the stance that if two people buy the same item they both can reasonable expect to receive the same benefit outcome for the item regardless of time.

What that means is if person A buys an electric mixer and uses it every day while person B buys the same electric mixer and only uses it once a week but person B’s mixer fails after 13 months while person A’s still works they have not both enjoyed the same benefit and under the act person B can reasonable expect the mixer to have lasted longer and is entitled to remedy under the act regardless of the manufacturers expressed voluntary warranty.

Time to recap as that is a lot to take in.  Lets look at this scenario and I hope it drives home your rights as a consumer in Australia.

Sue goes into her local white goods retailer to purchase a new washing machine, the sales person John tells Sue that Brand X is of the highest quality and would serve her family well for years to come.  This sales pitch which induces Sue to enter in the contact to buy the washing machine is protection number one by way of an expressed warranty under the act.

Sue happily purchases Brand X washing machine from John for the princely sum of $1249 which comes with a manufacturers voluntary expressed 12 months warranty, this is protection number two.

John attempts to sell Sue a 36 month extended manufacturers warranty for $139 however Sue declines this as she can’t afford it and anyway what type of washing machine doesn’t last 36 months?  After all John said it was of the highest quality which forms protection number three by way of an implied statutory warranty under the act.  Given the value of the item,  the quality and the amount of benefit a reasonable person would expect to receive from such an item.

Sue comes out to her washing machine one Saturday 18 months from the day she purchased it to find it no longer works, she rings John who tells her sorry Sue you should have purchased that extended warranty as the washing machine is now out of it’s manufacturers warranty and she’d have to get it repaired at her cost or buy a new one.

Sue knowing her rights and Johns obligations under the act thanks John for his time and then sits down and pens a letter to John stating that she is not asking for her claim for remedy to be assessed under the manufacturers expressed warranty as it has expired but under her statutory warranty as provided by TPA discussed above, Sue kindly asks for the matter to be resolved within 10 business days.

John after the initial denial wheres off learns a lesson about consumer rights and then offers to Sue to have the washing machine repaired, replaced or refunded which ever is the most applicable, but should John still refuse after Sue’s letter Sue then contacts her states office of fair trading who will then make things happen rather quickly.  A complaint with all documentation to the ACCC also works wonders.

I have spoken a lot about the Trade Practices Act 1974 here and not a lot about the Australian Consumer Law this is really due to most people won’t be affected by the ACL yet and the same rights and protections are covered in both with the ACL referring to these as the consumer guarantee’s.

Never ever pay for an extended warranty and never put up with the spin from a retailer or manufacturer, you have rights, learn them and use them.

Top 10 Reasons to Vote Green this Saturday

1.     The Greens stand up for what’s right, not just what’s easy. Whether it’s protecting the environment, introducing universal dental care, opposing the war in Iraq or advocating for refugees to be treated humanely, the Greens are driven by values, not polls.

2.     It’s the Party everyone’s heading to. The Greens are the third largest political party in Australia, with five national Senators, 21 State MPs and more than 100 local Greens councillors already playing a positive and constructive role across Australia. More than a million Australians voted Green in 2007, and we’re the fastest-growing party in the country.

3.     Break the deadlock in the Senate between the Government and the Opposition. Last time the Government of the day also got control of the Senate, and we got WorkChoices. This weekend, the Opposition could easily win control of the Senate, which would deliver Australians nothing but three years of deadlock. We deserve a Senate that will work for us and deliver strong, sensible action – not just spin.

4.     Provide future generations with clean air, clean water and clean soil. The Greens will tackle climate change by putting a price on carbon for big polluters in the next term of government. It’s time we created new clean energy jobs and started investing in the economy of the future.

5.     Make legislation better. When the Coalition tried to block the stimulus package that kept Australia out of recession, the Greens passed it with added environmental and small business benefits. The Greens will do the same thing to improve the mining super profits tax – to ensure Australians get a fair share of our resources.

6.     The Greens have vision. When Bob Brown first spoke to the Senate about climate change 14 years ago, his Labor and Liberal colleagues actually laughed at him, and now that they finally understand the magnitude of the issue, we’re laughing at their attempts to address it. The Greens are also the only party working to end all forms of legal discrimination against Australians based on sexuality. The Greens focus on what’s right for the next generation, not just the next election cycle.

7.     Not Steve Fielding. The power to scuttle legislation currently rests with Steve Fielding, who refuses to accept the science of climate change and have views out of touch with most Australians.

8.     An environmental party – and much, much more. The Greens stand for much more than just cutting carbon pollution, securing our water supplies and protecting our environment. Think better public schools, more funding for hospitals and fixing our broken mental health system. The Greens also drive great new ideas, like building high-speed rail between Australia’s major cities, which is now gaining momentum but would never have gotten up otherwise.

9.     For a more powerful vote. Another Labor or Liberal candidate will just vote the way they’re told. With the Greens, every vote is a conscience vote. If you’re disappointed with Labor but don’t want Tony Abbott, you can send a powerful message to Julia Gillard. And if your Greens candidate doesn’t win, your vote will simply go to the next candidate of your choice at full value.

10.  Bob Brown. A genuinely decent politician and the most experienced party leader in Parliament.

Oh my, Barnaby what have you become?

This election has not been kind to you Barnaby, in fact we have seen you metamorphose from straight down the line reasonable peoples politician reflecting your grass roots to a bitter and desperate party politician and one that has gone from attacking policy to one attacking persona’s.

Yesterday I heard you speak after Julia announced digital health reforms in Townsville to work in with the National Broadband Network to deliver doctors consultations to regional Australia where it would not be otherwise viable and instead of this being music to your National ears it invoked the scorn and dismal displays I have come to expect from you recently.

Lets look at this closer shall we, yesterday the Senator said;

“The Labor broadband plan could have been authored by a poor pretender to Hans Christian Anderson. Australia would have to believe in fairy tales to believe that the Labor Party can deliver this…”

Hmm I seem to remember a different tune you sang not to long ago.  In April of 2009 just after the NBN announcement by Kevin Rudd you told us;

“How could we disagree with something that is quite evidently our idea,”

“This delivers a strategic infrastructure outcome.”

“It is vitally important that the National Broadband Network gets to the corners of our country where the market has failed, at a price that is both affordable and a service that is comparable.”

Now hang on why did you say it was your idea?  Oh thats right the good Senator once worked with NSW Nationals Senator Fiona Nash on a white paper on telecommunications policy, in which a major tenant was the creation of a national fibre optic network, and restructure of the industry in recognition of the crippling lack of infrastructure in the bush.

The Senator unveiled this white paper to Parliament and of course the Howard government promptly ignored it, in the vain hope that market regulation would do the job for them but of course it won’t the numbers just aren’t there to justify the cost of delivering needed services to the bush.

See this is the problem with governments that think they need to be run as a business, and that everything has to balance on the ledger.  Not every thing is economically viable, and that’s okay.. it wasn’t viable for a private company to provide phone services to all corners of Austalia, nor was it to have bank branches everywhere, nor would it be to have private hospitals.  Where the market cannot sustain or make services pay thats when we need the government to step in to pick up the tab.  The services available to tax payers in metropolitan need to be available equally to tax payers in regional community centers.

I’ve also got the shits with Barnaby and co sprouting the reasons for having a NBN is so some kid can watch youtube faster, that is a total crock of shit.  I couldn’t care less about the mum and dad users of the Internet having fibre, but when I have to pay over 100k a year for a substandard 10mbps business grade connection just because I am not inside the CBD there is something amiss in this country.  That is someones job right there, and it is replicated all over the country.

The need for faster wider bandwidth for business is growing day by day and in 5 years the lack of infrastructure will cripple us because it already is.

Refugee’s and the Myth

I read in the media and more concerning hear from friends about  the great swarms of illegal refugee’s coming to our shores.

I’ll be the first to admit we can and do get taken advantage of by a portion of these people but that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing and I would like to point out that we don’t have any such thing as illegal refugees in Australia.

Under the United Nations charter for refugees of which Australia signed both the protocol (1951) and convention (1967) under Menzies then Holt, both then Liberal governments.  We have an obligation under international law to accept and protect them.

There is a cost to that but when is there not a cost associated with living up to expectations?  Just by the by the Howard Government actaully holds the record for the most boat arrivals. I can’t say I agree with how we handle the boats but we have an obligation and there is no easy solution to it.

The nation of Nauru is not the answer, the reason Howard choose Nauru is to avoid our obligations under the UNHCR.. and well to me sherking your responibilties is just not how we do things nor is it an example we should want to show our children. We need to do more to take care of our own for sure but one really doesn’t have anything to do with the other.

It’s a myth that Refugee’s are treated better then our other welfare recipents, Centrelink and Medicare benefits only become available to refugees once they are issued a protection visa and gain permanent residency.  ie they are legitimate refugees, and as legitimate refugess is there really any Austalian out there that would turn their back on someone in need?

They then get the exact same benefit rates as any one else, not more.  They certainly do not get free houses or cars…

I’d like people to try and understand that the issue of refugee’s is not an issue of border protection, nor is it something we can stamp out with policy.  We have more people over stay their visa’s then we do arriving by boat but I hear no mention of that in the media. 

To want to risk your life and that of your children to these people smuggilers tells me you  are desperate, and we should remember often in the parts of the world these people are coming from there is no legal means to reach us.. it’s not like they can just stroll down to the local embessy.

Historically the flow of boats heading for Australia coincide with civil unrest in the region, this is something fairly out of our control and can’t be prevented by policy.  All our policy can do is control the funnel, under Howard it was funneling the boats to detention centres outside the immigration zone beyond the eyes of the UN.

Do I have the answer no I do not, and I doubt a truely universal one will ever be forth coming.  What I do know is that we as Australians have stood up and said yes we recognise that refugees are a class of people that need protection and we will do that.  We are a compasionate people and the ideal of helping out those who can not help themsevles is ingrained it us..

This makes me proud to be Australian, and I would not welcome any policy that would dimmish that, even if it means being scammed by 9 in 10 people.  If just one is legit we are doing the right thing.