Shorten at Royal Commission
Media commentary on the first day of Shorten’s appearance at the Royal Commission does not imply corrupt or illegal activity by him but does indicate cover-ups, bad behaviour and a lack of trust as leader. This has already been revealed in his lying about the Gillard/Rudd competition for PM. With questionable denials yesterday about whether he personally benefited from a donation to the AWU when national secretary, his suitability as a leader of the ALP let alone as PM seems further diminished. The response by some ALP leaders that the Royal Commission is simply a political attack on unions seems unlikely to help.
In fact, all metropolitan papers ran disparaging front page headlines and even The Age has “Shorten battered & bruised”. Coming at the same time as the Health Services Union is attempting to recover funds alleged to have been wrongly used by its former national secretary, Kathy Jackson, it supports the need for major reforms of both union governance and the regulatory arrangements.
As to the latter, the editorial in today’s The Australian argues that “there is a strong case for banning friendly deals between unions and employers”. But this misses the point. Australia needs less not more regulation banning this or that behaviour. An environment which ensures a competitive framework for negotiating deals between employers and employees would be in the national interest.
The key problem is the Fair Work Commission which is supposed to regulate in the national interest but which allows unions to force employers to conclude deals benefitting unions or face the threat of industrial disruptions. Such deals have become built into the system.
The deals required by the AWU appear to be relatively “modest” (such as payment of union dues) but other unions such as the CFMEU enforce bigger deals and have built up large union bank accounts. In effect, under present arrangements unions are able to impose a tax on businesses.
The Newspoll published on Monday showed a one percentage point drop in the Coalition’s TPP to 48/52 and a one point drop in Abbott’s performance to 33. Shorten’s performance remained on a low 28.
This result has again led to media commentary that Abbott’s message on (for example) the ABC and the Terrorist threat is too strongly put. But while some of the phrases used by Abbott do seem inappropriate, both of these issues justify strong commentary by the PM. For example, the inability of the ABC to do more than convey an apology and appoint two biased inquirers into the Q&A program, is surely not a sufficient response by an organisation which falls far short of presenting “balanced” programs. Some argue that Coalition ministers “have to appear” on Q&A in order to expose their policies to debate: but most questions asked and debated tend to be off or on the edge of issues in major policy streams and there are other Q&A type programs on TV and radio whose competition would help improve ABC.
There have been some interesting and important developments in support of the sceptical view.
- In 2008 a Nobel prize winning physicist, Ivar Giaever, with 70 other scientists, signed a letter endorsing Obama’s alarmist view on global warming. He has now told the 65th Nobel Science Laureates conference in Germany in June-July 2015 that global warming is a “non-problem” (see here his denunciation of a list of claims made by warmists). He will feature in a new documentary “Climate Hustle” to be released in autumn (in the Northern hemisphere) by Marc Morano, who runs the Climate Depot news and information service in the US and was previously climate researcher for US Senator Inofe, who played an important role in establishing the sceptical view in the US. Morano’s attached report on Giaevur’s address refers to the over 1000 dissenting scientists he has listed at Climate Depot. I am trying to obtain copies of the DVD on Climate Hustle ($US 25).
- The Financial Review has published an article by one of its senior journalists entitled “Climate damage estimates just vapour”. It refers to an analysis by economist Professor Pindyck at MIT in which he declared the whole debate bunkum.
- Reports that the Chinese Premier told climate change talks in Paris that China will reduce its carbon intensity by 60-65% over the next 15 years have been followed by sharp drops in the carbon price traded in the seven pilot trading schemes in China and a statement by a Chinese climate expert questioning its achievability. Even if the intensity target is met the total emissions (for which there is no target) would still be much higher than in 2015;
- Physicist Tom Quirk’s examination of the origin of estimates of CO2 emissions has revealed that up to half in some years are due to forest fires and that the Southern Hemisphere below a latitude of 12 degrees south contributed only 4.7% of global emissions (Australia produces only 1.2%) ie if there is a dangerous warming problem, the solution has to come from countries in the Northern Hemisphere.