Coalition Policies Need Upgrading
It is becoming increasingly difficult to see how Abbott can survive on the basis of existing policies and the way they are presented. After a period of public debate over the Royal Commission, during which Shorten and various unions were exposed as having behaved very poorly, Newspoll is still unchanged on a TPP basis (46/54) and Shorten remains Better PM (41/37). In addition, while 68% want the RC to continue, Heydon himself gets bad marks for his mishandling of the invitation to a Liberal Party function. Further, the support for the China FTA (only 43% and 22% uncommitted) indicates a failure to fully explain that it exposed virtually no risk from foreign-sourced labour (Robb’s explanations yesterday on the ABC’s Insiders was excellent but he should have been more upfront earlier).
In recent Commentaries I have suggested that the Abbott government has an opportunity to make reform of workplace relations a major policy program from now until the election (with a promise of major changes after it). The Australian has been running that line too, with today’s editorial repeating it (see below For the sake of the nation Abbott must turn it around). As this editorial points out, the RC has already provided “material for a strong reform mandate in industrial relations” and the AFR’s editorial urges the “dismantling [of] Australia’s 1970s industrial relations framework”.
But the seeking of such a mandate should not rest simply on eliminating unjustified powers acquired by the unions in cahoots with the regulators. It should also emphasise that Australia’s cost structure and productivity, and the employment of lesser skilled workers in particular, would be improved by reforms which created a more competitive, minimally regulated labour market.
In circumstances where the economy has continued below trend growth (although seemingly better than the last quarterly 0.2% GDP increase), and where unemployment is higher than when the Coalition was elected, a policy involving the major reform of workplace relations can justifiably be presented as one which will help improve growth in both the economy and employment.
Immigration & Refugees
Strong support has developed for helping Syrian refugees fleeing from Islamic extremists and Abbott has indicated Australia will contribute, although it may not involve an increase in total humanitarian refugees. The Coalition is committed to increasing such refugees from 13,750 in 2013-14 (there were 72,000 seekers then) to 16,250 in 2017-18, then 18,750 in 2018-19.
However, a number of countries have indicated the importance of avoiding the acceptance of possible terrorists and “economic” refugees (it appears that the father of the toddler who drowned was one). Australia should indicate such a policy.
PM Cameron has indicated that Britain will accept “thousands more” Syrians and has also said he supports military intervention to solve the Syrian crisis (it will be recalled that some time ago Obama threatened US military action to overthrow the Syrian government. However, that “redline” did not result in any action partly because Assad’s claim to have stopped using chemical weapons gave Obama a let-out). Cameron is said to be concerned that his small majority in Parliament will require support for additional military action from Labour and that this may not be forthcoming under the new Labour leader Corbyn.
Of some importance, however, is the article in the London Daily Telegraph calling for military action by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey. He states that it is “not enough to send aid to refugee camps in the Middle East. There must be renewed military and diplomatic efforts to crush the twin menaces of Islamic State and al-Qaeda once and for all. Make no mistake: this may mean air strikes and other British military assistance to create secure and safe enclaves in Syria” (see Lord Carey: Britain has a duty to rescue Syria’s Christians). Cary draws particular attention to the failure to respond to attacks on Christians in the Middle East (he claims over a million have been killed) and adds that “some will not like me saying this, but in recent years, there has been too much Muslim mass immigration to Europe. This has resulted in ghettos of Muslim communities living parallel lives to mainstream society, following their own customs and even their own laws”. Such commentary from church leaders has been missing and one hopes that Cary will be followed elsewhere.
Abbott has already given strong support for attacks on ISIS and the refugee situation will allow him to call for additional military action in Syria/Iraq, possibly extending to active “boots on the ground”, including from the US. The refugee situation also provides justification for increased military involvement to go out to European countries too.
The Dirty Bomb
I have written before about the serious potential threat that would exist if Islamic extremists acquire nuclear weaponry. This article by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency says nothing about that per se but draws attention to 2,800 incidents involving radioactive material escaping regulatory control and the danger that “terrorists and criminals” could exploit its use to assist in the making of a nuclear explosive device.
This week’s report from the prominent US sceptic group SEPP (see opening paragraphs available here) draws attention, as a prelude to the Paris meeting, to various questionable aspects of the so-called dangerous warming threat. Note in particular:
- The apparent inability of warmists to find a “hot spot” over the tropics (regarded as crucial evidence of warming) and their attempt to rig the data. SEPP suggests this might allow a reversal of the US legal decision to accept the “science” as interpreted by the EPA.
- The removal of data showing reduced temperatures by climatologist Michael Mann, and its replacement with data showing increased temperatures, when Mann had his analysis published in Nature and the third IPCC report;
- The refusal at an August meeting of the Arctic Council, originated by the US, of China and India to sign a non-binding agreement to aggressively address climate change. And the attempt by Obama to use the meeting to publicise the melting of ice in Glazier Bay as evidence of CChange. Note that Patrick Moore, who toured Australia last year, points out that the ice in Glacier Bay has been retreating and advancing for centuries.
- Analysis suggesting that the variability of the sun may have had a greater influence on temperatures than previously supposed and that 1000 years ago it was warmer than today;
- The inability to find any substantive evidence supporting a press release by NASA Sea Level Change Team claiming a dramatic rise in sea levels.
- A report that the world-wide average yield for wheat and coarse grains increased by about 54% between 1986-89 and 2013-15. This implies that the increase in CO2 has been helpful and that predictions of starvation and death by the US Defence Department and the US Global Change Research Program are astray.