Thursday, May 31, 2007

John Howard Suddenly A Global Warming True Believer...And So Is George W. Bush

Howard Commits To Carbon Trading, Emission Targets And The Reality Of Climate Change

So John Howard has finally, officially recognised that climate change is going to cost Australia a lot of money, houses and jobs in the decades to come, and that his absolute stubborn refusal to set up a carbon trading system has already put us behind many other industrialised nations of the world.

Howard huggers are mortified that their glorious leader has fallen victim to the "global warming hysteria". But he hasn't, of course. Howard has just finally relented to the four year old calls from Australia's biggest corporations to get on board the carbon trading world currency wagon, and awoken to the reality that if Australia doesn't go along with the rest of the world they will punish us brutally with trade sanctions and boycotts sometime in the future.

Howard has, as always, a not-so-hidden agenda in his announcement yesterday that his government will actively pursue setting up a carbon trading system and also eventually set emissions caps and targets. The not-so-hidden agenda is that Howard will use his sudden "I'm A Believer" status to push nuclear power, at the expense of a new industrial age of nationwide renewable energy rollouts. We also now learn that Howard can over-ride the states and force them to take nuclear reactors, even if every single person in that state doesn't want such a thing.

Here's the news.

From the ABC :

The Prime Minister's carbon emissions task force says a trading scheme could be up and running by 2012, and efforts to cut emissions will lead to higher energy prices.

John Howard received the report of his task force yesterday, but has not made the findings public.

The ABC understands the report recommends a cap and trade system, in which polluters are issued permits and trade them according to their emissions.

Companies could buy pollution permits if they cannot keep their emissions under a certain level.

The report says the system would take four years to develop.

Setting a carbon price would be up to the market, and instead of recommending a target of greenhouse gas reduction the report simply urges the Government to take a cautious approach.

It says the setting of goals should be done with great care and more research.

But for consumers there is a sting in the tail.

The study warns cutting emissions has a cost: higher energy prices.

Ahh, yes. Higher energy prices. All those pensioners living in the dark so they can afford to feed their cat have had it far too good for far too long.

It should come as no surprise that Howard has basically allowed the corporations that use the most energy and produce the most carbon emissions to shape the next few decades of Australia's involvement in carbon trading and emissions reductions. The beauty of a system designed by the biggest energy users and carbon emitters is that they won't actually have to use less energy or reduce their emissions, not in the short term anyway. They can pay their way through their climate changing 'pollution'....or that should, You Will Pay Their Way.

They will set the agenda, and the public will pay. It's that simple.

They have billions invested in their companies and projects, you see, so you can't expect them to lose even one dollar while this slow but steady transformation of how Australians get their energy takes place.

To be clear. The biggest carbon emitters and energy users will not lose one single dollar. But you, yes you, You Will Pay.

Nobody is even trying to deny it.

From 'The Australian' :
THE Coalition has signalled its willingness to accept a long-term target for cutting greenhouse gases as John Howard readies today to receive a task force report on emissions trading.

As Labor attempted to trump the Prime Minister yesterday by promising to create an emissions trading system by 2010, Mr Howard last night gave his strongest indication yet that the Government was prepared to adopt a target to cut emissions.

"If we move towards an emissions trading system, that will as a necessity involve a long-term target of some kind," Mr Howard said.

The Coalition has long resisted setting targets for cutting greenhouse gases, criticising Labor for adopting its target of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050 without detailed analysis of its likely effect on the economy.

Mr Howard's signal that he was now prepared to adopt a longer-term emissions target came only hours after playing down the prospect in parliament.

Only hours? It used to take weeks, if not years and months, for Howard to backflip this spectacularly.

Soon he will be down to backflipping in minutes, and then seconds.

By the time the election rolls round, Howard will be backflipping on policies he hasn't yet announced yet.

Opposition leader Kevin Rudd has had a pretty good idea, for weeks, of what the prime minister is going to announce this weekend, about how his government will deal with carbon trading and emissions reductions, and Rudd knows the public is with him instead of Howard on these issues.

So Rudd jumped the gun on Wednesday night and announced the first stages of his own anti-climate change policies, and successfully managed to steal most of Howard's momentum :

John Howard's expected announcement of a carbon emissions trading scheme has been gazumped by the Federal Opposition who last night outlined their own plan.

In a series of statements, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd said a federal Labor government would increase the use of green electricity in government buildings and hand $50 million to geothermal companies to develop "hot-rock" technology.

John Howard will today receive a much-anticipated task force report on climate change and is believed to be poised to announce a long-term target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions as early as today.

Mr Rudd said a Labor government would lead by example, using its enormous purchasing power to drive markets for cleaner and greener goods and services.

All commonwealth buildings would be forced to meet the five star mark of the Australian Building Greenhouse Ratings - including Parliament House.

He said Labor would aim to power the House with entirely renewable energy.

"Every year the commonwealth government spends hundreds of millions on energy to power its offices and its operations, generating over a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions," Mr Rudd said.

Labor's environment spokesman Peter Garrett said the funding for exploration of hot-rock energy would help the burgeoning industry over the hurdle of high costs for drilling rigs in the current mining boom.

Geothermal or hot-rock energy is produced by drilling deep wells into naturally hot rocks, cycling water through those wells to heat the water which then drives a turbine.

"Geothermal energy holds the promise of being a renewable energy source with zero greenhouse gas emissions that can operate 24 hours a day providing critical baseload power for Australian homes and industries," Mr Garrett said.

So what brought all this on? What made Howard change his mind about climate change, when only a few months ago (hell, even a few weeks ago) he was denying it was even a reality, and mocking those who feared for their families' futures, and the future prosperity of Australia?

It was the polls, of course, and perhaps some 'international influence'.

Howard had lost at least half of his voters to Rudd over climate change in a matter of months. The vast majority of Australians believe climate change poses a far bigger threat to their lives, and livelihoods, than terrorism.

That was shocking news to Howard & Co. After all, they had spent hundreds of millions of dollars since 9/11 trying to scare the living shit out of all Australians about the potential terrorists in their midst, of whom, few if any, so far have be proven to anything more than a bunch of racist, fascist idiots who talk big into police-bugged telephones.

But Australians grew bored with all that Howard fear-mongering about terrorism, when nothing exploded. They clearly preferred Al Gore-style fear-mongering about climate change instead.

And so John Howard learned in the most brutal way just what will be the decisive election issue later this year when Australians cast their vote.

But Guess Who Else Just Became A Climate Change True Believer?

Of course, Howard's change of heart and mind on climate change has nothing at all to do with this equally spectacular, and spectacularly sudden, reversal from President Bush :
President Bush, seeking to blunt international criticism of the U.S. record on climate change, on Thursday urged 15 major nations to agree by the end of next year on a global emissions goal for reducing greenhouse gases.

Bush called for the first in a series of meetings to begin this fall, bringing together countries identified as major emitters of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The list would include the United States, China, India and major European countries.

''So my proposal is this: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. To develop this goal, the United States will convene a series of meetings of nations that produce the most greenhouse gasses, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China.

''Each country would establish midterm management targets and programs that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs,'' he said. ''In the course of the next 18 months, our nations will bring together industry leaders from different sectors of our economies, such as power generation, and alternative fuels and transportation.''

Welcome to the Change Climate Change Party, Mr Bush and Mr Howard.

You're a bit late, but they'll probably still let you inside. After all, per head of population, Australia and the United States lead the world in pumping out the carbon.

In less than twelve hours, both Bush and Howard gave their thumbs-up to the eventual rollout of the new world currency : global carbon trading credits.

And the Howard and Bush backflips have arrived just in time for this weekend's Bilderberg meeting, in Turkey, which brings together 100 of the world's most powerful and history-making leaders of politics and industry, where climate change and carbon trading will be front and centre of the future-altering agenda. An agenda that few journalists for the mainstream media have ever reported on, despite Bilderberg meetings being held every year for more than five decades.

Surely it's all just some huge coincidence. Right?

November, 2006 : How Howard Left Australia To Go Begging On The New World Carbon Trading Economy

Government And Opposition's Climate Change Policies Now Take Centre Stage Of Federal Politics - Much To Howard's Regret

Lateline : Howard And Rudd Step Up Climate Change Debate

Peter Garrett Reveals Labor Unlikely To Produce Carbon Trading Plans And Emissions Targets Before Federal Election

Australia's Corporations Lobbied Howard For Four Years For Introduction Of Carbon Trading

The Seven Tests Of An Effective Carbon Trading System For Australia

Australia's Emissions Barely Matter On A World Scale, But If We Don't Play Along A Trade Boycott Would Hurt

Howard Can Force The States To Accept Nuclear Power Plants, Whether They Want Them Or Not

Key Media Global Warming Denier Can Barely Believe John Howard's Triple Double Backflip On Carbon Trading

LP : How To Talk To A Global Warming Skeptic

John Quiggin : A Climate Change Round Up

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Millions Of Australians Work Overtime For No Extra Pay

Average Mortgage Payments For Sydney Homes Hit $3000 A Month

This story is a perfect example of why so many Australian workers don't like the ways in which prime minister John Howard is transforming their pay and working conditions, and therein, their home and social lives.

Workers are now saying goodbye to the standard working week (five days a week, eight hours a day) whether they want to or not, and most of them don't like it.

The Australian government can propose all the safety nets it wants to back up its industrial relations policies, and the corporate media can howl night and day on behalf of its big business clients about how Labor's plans to toss out most of Howard's IR changes will sink Australia back into some Depression-like union dominated dark age, but most Australian workers are not listening.

Well, they're listening, but not to Howard, or to the corporate media that takes the side of big business and the government.

They're listening to their friends and family members and relative complaining about the unholy hours they are racking up at the office or factory and how they aren't seeing any financial benefits. And they're recognising for themselves that working longer for less pay, while trying to meet soaring mortgage and debt commitments, is chewing up their lives and social time.

This is why John Howard and his coalition government are so far behind Labor in the polls, and have been since last year.

Howard is trying to sell them another part of his Dream Australia - no unions in the workplace, 'flexible' working conditions - but for many Australians the earlier parts of that dream they brought into, with Howard's financial and inspirational encouragement, primarily committing to property investments and first homes they now can't afford, is biting them all too hard where it hurts the most. They have to work longer hours to pay off the mortgage, but Howard's IR changes mean they won't necessarily earn more money for those longer hours.

Howard's Dream Australia is becoming a vicious, crippling circle for millions of workers, and they will vote for Labor because Labor is, so far, successfully selling them a way out of the hole they're in, or at least a better way forward.

From the Sydney Morning Herald :

Almost a third of Australian employees work unsocial hours - between 7pm and 7am - and even more complain they have no say about when they start or finish.

As the Howard Government seeks to soothe unease about its workplace laws, a Bureau of Statistics survey reveals the deep incursion work has already made into family and community life.

The figures show 37 per cent of employees work overtime or extra hours - and about half of them do so for no extra pay.

Thirty per cent said their shifts regularly overlapped the hours between 7pm and 7am as part of their main job. Three in five said they had no say about when they started or finished.

As for weekends, 16 per cent said they were required to work on Saturdays, and 8.5 per cent on Sundays. One in four were not always allowed to choose when to take their holidays.

"It is not just family life, but community life that is being compromised," said the director of the Workplace Research Centre at Sydney University, John Buchanan. "It just rips the heart out of the football team."

...a professor of industrial relations at Griffith University, David Peetz, said the shift was driven more by employer demands than employee wishes.

"I don't think people have decided, 'Gee, I wish I could work late at night.' Sometimes it is driven by employee wishes, but the trend we have seen over the long term, of an increasing incursion into the balance between work and life, is driven more by what employers want."

Dr Buchanan said the new laws had sped up a trend that was in place over the past two decades. "Work Choices legislation formalised the abolition of the standard working week."

And then comes the pain of the mortgage payments, using first home buyers in Sydney as an example. Howard promised in 2004 that he would keep interest rates low, while some of his election advertising promised record low interest rates would continue, which combined with more easily accessible loans, further encouraged young couples to buy their first homes. Then the interest rates started to climb :

The average monthly repayment needed to buy a typical first home in Sydney has hit $3000 for the first time.

This is up $442 on a year ago...

About half the increase is due to last year's three interest rate rises, which added almost $200 a month to repayments on a $400,000 loan.

The rest is due to rising home prices, which have forced people to take out bigger loans.

The NSW executive director of the Housing Industry Association, Graham Wolfe, said that even assuming interest rates remained low, housing affordability in NSW would not return to acceptable levels until 2022.

Mortgage repayments are now soaking up 38.5 per cent of an average first home buyer's income, enough to put them within the official definition of "housing stress". This is when people pay at least 30 per cent of their disposable income on mortgage repayments or rent.

Recent testimony to a Senate committee by the inspector-general of the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia, Terry Gallagher, indicated Australian families are under increasing financial stress.

Mr Gallagher said bankruptcies had risen 12.5 per cent in the nine months to March.

"You could go back 10 or 15 years, when bankruptcy numbers were 13,000 a year, and now they are 30,000 a year," he said.

Keep in mind, too, that John Howard recently said in Parliament that Australian families had never been better off, meaning life was sweet under his government. If only he actually went and knocked on some doors.

Howard's You've Never Had It So Good line will no doubt come back to haunt him, as it should. It was an absurd and insulting thing to say to young families watching almost half their wages get chewed up in meeting their mortgage payments, while property prices started to fall.

Howard should have said no Australian prime minister had ever had it as good.

After all, he lives rent-free in one of the most beautiful and best-positioned homes on Sydney Harbour. A house owned by the Australian taxpayers, of course, who have also forked out for more than $1.3 million worth of renovations and new furnishings since John Howard moved in in 1996.

Australians Going Broke In Record Numbers

Housing Affordability At Lowest Levels In Two Decades

More People Working Longer For Less Pay : Howard's Gift To Big Business

Howard Promises Business Council That If They Help Him Win The Election, IR Changes Will Stay Forever

You Should Get More Than Free Pizza For Working Overtime....Maybe

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Smokers In Tasmania Face Arrest

Sweetness-Enhanced Cigarettes Now Have "More Flavours Than A Darrell Lea Hamper"

Apparently you could soon be arrested, and charged, in Tasmania for smoking in your car, if there are children present. It's probably the harshest anti-smoking law to be introduced in Australia, for the moment anyway.

Of recent there have been a few letters in newspapers, and anti-smoking lobbyists on television news, suggesting or demanding that smoking in public places be completely outlawed, and that even smoking in your own home, or car, when there are no children present, always be deemed worthy of arrest.

In fact, anti-smoking groups are lobbying the federal government for arrest-the-smoker laws to be increased across the whole nation.

Why then, asks Sydney University professor of public health, Simon Chapman, are the cigarette manufacturers treated so leniently? Why, Chapman asks, in an informative piece for Crikey (free subscriptions now available), can cigarette manufacturers use flavour enahancers and additives to make cigarette smoking more appealing to children and generally, well, tastier?

Australia has a tougher package of tobacco control laws than almost any nation, and falling smoking and lung-cancer rates to show for it. But despite this experience, Australian governments are still treating the endgame of tobacco control with kid gloves.

Soon Tasmanian police will be empowered to arrest adults smoking in cars carrying children if they refuse to butt out. While cars-with-children smoking bans and fines have the support of the public health community, getting ├╝ber-tough with smokers rather than the tobacco industry is hairy-chested nonsense.

Meanwhile, imagine how long it would take any government to pounce on a confectionary manufacturer trying to sell a chocolate hypodermic syringe to kids. The national Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy has taken two years to get around to agreeing to “consider” banning the importation of both fruit-and confectionary-flavoured cigarettes.

The minnow DJ Mix imported brand, which features a range of flavoured cigarettes that smell and taste like a sweet shop, are the soft target of its concern. Tellingly, even the tobacco majors like British American Tobacco are supportive.

But look at the ingredient information for Philip Morris, BAT and Imperial, where chemical-additive flavourings are listed which the companies are prepared to reveal under a current voluntary disclosure agreement with government.

Mainstream brands are pickled in the same sort of flavourants that DJ Mix is up-front about. The companies know that a spoonful of sugar helps the tobacco smoke go down with young people who, when starting to smoke, find the harsh taste and “mouth feel” of smoke a turn-off.

As I argued in 2005, if Australian governments act to stop fruit-flavoured products like DJ Mix because the company importing it is up-front in promoting it as a flavoured brand, how can they continue to allow mainstream brands with more flavours than a Darrell Lea hamper to be sold on the wink that these flavours are added -- but not flaunted on the pack and found only on an obscure website at the end of cyberspace?

Good question, Simon. Don't expect an answer any time soon. The federal government pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in tobacco taxes, while giving only a fraction back to anti-smoking and Quit programs. It's an addiction far too sweet to give up.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Australia Prepares To Invest Big Money In US Missile Defence Shield

But No Missiles Will Defend Australian Cities

Thought it would be a few weeks, maybe, even a couple of months, before foreign minister Alexander Downer made it clear that Australia was going to commit many millions of dollars to the moneyhole that will be our nation's role in the 'local' development of the United States' worldwide Missile Defence Shield.

Of course, Downer hasn't officially made that announcement. Not officially. Australians will need time to get used to the idea of paying hundreds of millions of dollars into "research"and development projects that will all lead to helping the United States position and resource their missile defence shield in our region.

First of all Downer and defence minister Brendan Nelson had to get Australians used to the words "missile defence shield" and "Australia" being mentioned in the same news sound bite. They both did that in the past two weeks. Then Downer flew to Washington and California to meet with US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and a bevy of American defence industry heavyweights. In those meetings he, unofficially, discussed Australia's long term role and commitment to the expansion of America's missile defence shield.

In the coming weeks, Downer and Nelson will talk up the "long-term" threat posed to Australia by North Korean and Chinese missile development programs, with vague future threats along the lines of "You never know what might happen in 20 or 30 years. It might be a very different world. China and North Korea already have missiles that can reach Australian cities."

But while they talk up such potential future threats, Downer and Nelson will be committing Australian taxpayer dollars to future research and development programs all related to the expansion of the American missile shield across the Pacific and into South East Asia.

Downer made one of the most important decisions about the strategic future of Australia while he was with Dr Rice, but why would you expect to hear anything about it? It will only directly impact on our relationship with China and Indonesia through the next half century and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. What's so important about that?

Downer, of course, claims that no decision has been made yet about Australia committing to the US missile defence shield, but he is such a rampant, repulsive liar and spreader of misinformation, you might as well assume that he signed on the dotted line while he was with Dr Rice last week.

We'll be helping to fund the expansion of America's missile defence shield, yes, but don't expect it to actually protect us in the event of a future missile exchange between hostile nations - read China and the United States.

From :
Australia would support its allies in building a missile defence shield, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said today.

But he said it was unlikely "in the foreseeable future" that Australian cities would be protected by the system.

Japan's Nikkei business daily newspaper reported this week that Australia, Japan and the US had agreed at a meeting in Tokyo last month on a joint research framework for a system.

Mr Downer, speaking today in California alongside US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said Australia supported the concept of the missile defence system.

Asked if it was realistic Australia would have missiles guarding its cities in the near future, Mr Downer replied he did not "think that's likely any time in the foreseeable future".

"We do support the concept of missile defence and we do work with our friends and allies on that issue," said Mr Downer..."We have never made a secret of that."

"There are not the strategic circumstances where we feel we would need (missile defence capability) ourselves at this stage. Others, including the US, their need for it is entirely understandable, and we are happy to work with them. "

How Australia Is Now Part Of The US-Led Encirclement Of China - North Korean Missile Threat Seen As An Excuse To Ramp Up Deployment Of US Missile Shield

United States Still Having Trouble Getting Its Basic Missile Defence Capability To Work

Russia Intends To Take "Counter Measures" Against Expansion Of US Missile Shield

Putin Calls Expansion Of American Missile Shield "A Harmful Thing", Asks Where Is The Threat?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Only 30% Of Australians Now Think Howard Can Win The 2007 Elections

Prime Minister All Set To Lead His Government To An Utterly Devastating Defeat

John Howard wasn't just testing out some new way of portraying himself as being ultra-humble when he said the Coalition faces "annihilation" at the November federal elections. He was stating as a fact what his own party's extensive 'private' polling has been telling him for months.

And now Howard's own Annihilation Election scenario is confirmed by the latest Newspoll :
In a dramatic turnaround in what people think will happen -- as opposed to a snapshot of how they think they will vote -- 57 per cent of voters say Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd will win later this year.

Before the last election -- despite final polls showing Labor was a 50-50 chance -- voters predicted the Coalition would win overwhelmingly. The latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Weekend Australian this week, shows that only 30 per cent of voters believe the Coalition will win this year's election.

This week, the positive rating for the ALP jumped almost 30 points and the Coalition's fell 16 points. Even 39 per cent of Coalition supporters surveyed said they thought Labor would win the next election.

The Prime Minister warned MPs and voters that the current support for the ALP would sweep the Government away and "change the country".

The numbers are stunning. Not only is Howard and his government vastly unpopular, they continue to plunge further into the abyss with each passing month. When questioned on what they think the Coalition's chances are of being re-elected, a massive majority of the public are giving Howard & Co. the double thumbs down.

But here's the cruncher for Howard : most Australians say they are going to vote for Kevin Rudd, and most say that he will win. When that sort of double momentum kicks in an Australian election, it's almost impossible to turn it all around :
...people vote the way they think the election is going to go rather than how they say they are going to vote.
The raw panic flooding through the senior ranks of the government was evident last week in the words and behaviour of the federal health minister, Tony Abbott, when he made a bizarre and very clear threat to the Australian public that they face "consequences...dire consequences" if they dared to vote against the government :
"I don't believe that they have stopped listening to us because we have been a fundamentally good government. The risk is that we might sleepwalk into changing the government in a fit of absent-mindedness, almost, if we the Government don't let people know that your vote, come the end of the year, does have consequences, potentially dire consequences."
Abbott likes the "consequences...dire consequences" threat so much he used it three times in that interview.

Looks like Howard & Co. have dispensed with their planned Fear And Smear campaign of the opposition, and shifted straight into threatening the Australian public.

Perhaps that could be their election campaign signature : "If You Don't Vote For Us, You Will Face The Consequences. Dire Consequences."

It's hard to imagine that there's anything now that the government can do to win back the public support they need to scoop the coming election. They've worn out The Fear of immigrants, terrorism and enviromentalists, and the public clearly believe that John Howard, in particular, can't be trusted to tell the truth on the most important issues of the day. He didn't tell the truth about climate change, the AWB scandal, the Iraq War and the Children Overboard obscenity, why would he start telling us the truth now?

There will be no victory in Iraq before the election, and we'll be damn lucky if we don't have to face the horror of casualties, interest rates are likely to rise again, particularly if the US dollar continues its downward spiral and China's stock market hammeraoges, and if Australia is hit by a terror attack just before polls, the public would probably blame the disastrous 'War on Terror' as having made this country a more likely target.

Shocking water shortages, vastly more expensive food and massive electricity price increases are already a reality for late 2007 and 2008, and it will be easy for Labor to blame John Howard's complete ignorance of the rapidly changing climate in recent years for all of those woes. Most of the public already do.

On top of all that, the Howard induced changes to the working lives of most Australians, through his IR reforms, are about as popular as a kick in the nuts, and they are unlikely to find favour with the majority of Australians before the election rolls around.

Even when Howard attempts to show his climate change credentials, by planning to burn off another $20 to $50 million on an advertising campaign, he is met with howls of outrage and indignation, even from media that will benefit financially from such advertising splurges. The public hates Howard blowing taxpayer dollars like this, he's blown $1.7 billion in this way since 1996, and that is opinion is not going to change either. It's only going to grow more negative.

Howard has nothing on the horizon that he can use to beat back Labor, or to ramp up his popularity, as he himself admitted when he said he has "no rabbits" left to pull out of his hat.

It won't be smooth sailing for Labor on its way to winning the election, but the usual grubby dirt and smear campaigns from the Liberal sewer crews will only make Howard and his government even more unpopular. The Australian public are sick of such behaviour. If Howard & Co. want to win they will have to be positive, flawless and heart-warmingly inspirational. Three things they have trouble pulling off when elections are not just around the corner.

Howard is now on his way to becoming one of the most unpopular prime ministers in decades, and his coalition government looks set to be torn to shreds at the election. Whoever comes up with a way, a vision, a campaign, that will get Howard & Co. re-elected will be making history.

During the election campaign, you will see grown men weep in horror on TV, but most of them will be the same politicians who have spent the past ten years smirking with contempt, so it won't be too painful to watch.

John And Jeanette's Tips On How To Renovate Two Homes At The Taxpayer's Expense : No Luxury Is Too Expensive For A True 'Fiscal Conservative'

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Allegations Surface That ABC Was Pressured Into Screening "Discredited" Documentary Debunking Global Warming

Further proof that if you whine long and loudly enough, and you happen to write for the Rupert Murdoch media, you can get pretty much whatever you want.

Global Warming "Truthers" Andrew Bolt and Daily Telegraph opinion editor Tim Blair led the thinly populated parade of those demanding the ABC screen a documentary that supposedly debunks the "myth" of global warming.

That the ABC hadn't already screened The Great Global Warming Swindle, the likes of Bolt and Blair would have you believe, amounted to a conspiracy to censor "the debate" about whether or not severe climate change is a reality, and whether or not humans are responsible for global warming.

Now ABC programmers have reportedly caved in to "pressure" from the ABC board of directors to screen the British documentary in July, not long after the Howard government delivers its own long awaited report into how it plans to deal with rapid climate change:

The program caused controversy when it was aired on Britain's Channel 4 in March. Eminent scientists and some of the scientists interviewed later accused the documentary makers of using fabricated data, half-truths and misleading statements.

The ABC science journalist and broadcaster Robyn Williams, who advised the TV division not to buy the program, told the Herald yesterday the director of ABC TV, Kim Dalton, had intimated in a conversation that he was under pressure from the board on the issue.

"Kim implied on April 16 the board had pressured him into it … that is what our inference was from what he said and did [in that conversation]," said Williams, who described the documentary as "deeply misleading" and "part of the school of total bollocks science journalism".

A reporter on the ABC's Four Corners program, Jonathan Holmes, who took part in that conversation, said: "My impression was whether you call it pressure or some kind of indication from the board or members of the board or a member of the board that he [Mr Dalton] should look at the documentary and consider running it."

Mr Dalton denied he had come under any influence from the board or that he had spoken to any of its members about the program.

Asked whether he thought running a program that had been shown to include falsified data would damage the ABC, Mr Dalton said: "I don't think it will at all. It will affect our credibility in a way that shows where there are areas of public importance that we will provide the forum for them to be discussed."

The rights to screen The Great Global Warming Swindle had reportedly already been snatched up months ago by Channel 9, who then sold them on to ABC, presumably at a tidy profit.

It should make for a moribund night's viewing. The only way the screening of Swindle could be made even more perfect for the Boltists is if the ABC pulled it's top rating comedy show, The Chaser, off air to make way for it.

The Great Global Warming Swindle
has been available to view, for free, on the internet for months, and it makes its case about as convincingly as the documentary it is supposed to counter - Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Pretty unconvincingy.

Both documentaries push their politically weighted barrows right up to your face and dump a load of factoids and graphs, and demand you must believe it all, or be doomed by your own ignorance.

Just like An Inconvenient Truth, The Great Global Warming Swindle is light on facts, and big on clever editing, questionable statistics and opinion. Both documentaries lack overwhelming and cohesive scientific evidence to back up their claims.

It's a shame that both documentaries can't be screened together, on the same night. At about 3am.

If The Global Warming Swindle is an example of the kind of documentaries the ABC-haters think should make for a good, informative night's viewing on the national broadcaster, they need to get out more.

Here's global warming cult-buster Andrew Bolt recently showing the sort of valuable insight he is famous for :
"...the chances of you seeing The Great Global Warming Swindle on your TV are pretty low."
Not if you have mates on the ABC board and you use a blog and newspaper funded by the global warming "cultist", and frequent flier, Rupert Murdoch, to whine on and on about how not screening the documentary amounts to censorship and proof that the ABC is infested with cursed "Lefties".

The truth is the ABC probably would have shown The Great Global Warming Swindle anyway, had Channel Nine not first secured the rights to screen it in Australia.

But mounting a media campaign to "pressure" the ABC into screening the documentary allows global warming skeptics, like Bolt, to claim a victory for his followers.

So why is this doco repeatedly claimed to be "discredited"? George Monbiot attempts to debunk the debunkers of the Swindle :

The problem with The Great Global Warming Swindle, which the ABC plans to screen and which caused a sensation when it was broadcast in Britain earlier this year, is that to make its case it relies not on visionaries, but on people whose findings have been proven wrong. The implications could not be graver. Thousands of people could be misled into believing there is no problem to address.

The film's main contention is that the rise in global temperatures is caused not by greenhouse gases but by changes in the sun's activity. It is built around the premise that in 1991 the Danish atmospheric physicist Dr Eigil Friis-Christensen discovered that recent temperature variations on Earth coincided with the length of the cycle of sunspots: the shorter they were, the higher the temperature. Unfortunately, he found nothing of the kind. A paper published in the journal Eos in 2004 reveals that the finding was the result of incorrect handling of data. The truth is the opposite: temperatures have continued to rise as the length of the sunspot cycle has increased.

Cherry-pick your results and choose work which is outdated and discredited, and anything and everything becomes true. The twin towers were brought down by controlled explosions; homeopathy works; black people are less intelligent than white people; species came about through intelligent design. You can find lines of evidence which appear to support these contentions and professors who will speak in their favour. This does not mean that any of them are correct.

The first time I recall seeing the "sun causes global warming" theory anywhere was on the Russian 'news' site Pravda, a site where you can also find stories about how the moon landings were faked, how communities of wolf-boys live happily in Siberian forests and reports on how the Russian Army fought against UFO invasions.

Of course that doesn't mean the "Blame The Sun" theory of global warming isn't true. Just as it doesn't mean that the Russian Army didn't really go into battle against UFOs.

Believe whatever you want. But don't throw a hissy fit when the majority of the public don't share your beliefs.

Now that the ABC has shown it is not scared to show documentaries chock-full of "discredited" claims that "question the accepted truth", viewers should look forward to seeing some other widely discredited documentaries, like the ones that question the truth about the Holocaust and the myriad of conspiracy theories surrounding the events of 9/11.

Hell, there are docos on the internet that claim President Bush and his dad are members of satanic human sacrificing cults. Why not screen one of those on the ABC as well?

After all, as Andrew Bolt so succinctly puts it, showing the other side of a widely accepted truth is "not a spoof, it's debate".

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Australia Set To Join US 'Missile Defence Shield'

By Darryl Mason

Australia is now entering into the first official stages of joining the US 'missile defence shield'. The word being used is "research", but that's not how China and Russia are going to interpret the move by Australia to "develop its own missile defence system".

It's hardly a secret that the US wants its more strategically positioned allied nations to develop, in tandem, missile defence systems which can be eventually linked up to a global missile shield system, with the United States as the main beneficiary.

The expansion of the US missile defence shield into Eastern Europe has now set Russia's teeth on edge, and they've publicly pledged to counter any moves by the United States to establish missile bases, however small, close to its borders.

It will be interesting to see how China reacts to Australia becoming formerly involved in the US missile defence shield, which is widely reported to serve as both a defensive and offensive system, with the publicity centring around the 'defensive' aspects of what will eventually become the a 'missile shield' encompassing the globe.

You can dismiss most of what the federal government spokesmen have to say on just how far along Australia is with such 'missile shield' development plans, their vague explanations are unlikely to be accurate or truthful :

The Howard Government is considering the extent to which Australia will become involved in the planned missile defence system.

But a trilateral missile research agreement involving Australia, the US and Japan would further antagonise China, which already has concerns about the defence ties between Washington, Tokyo and Canberra.

There is a strong possibility the Royal Australian Navy's new air warfare destroyers, due to enter service in 2013, will eventually be equipped with SM-3 missiles, which are designed to intercept incoming missiles outside the earth's atmosphere.

Ballistic missile defence is one of the key issues being debated under the newly formed trilateral security dialogue taking place between the US, Japan and Australia.

"Japan and the United States will work together with Australia to strengthen security in the Asia-Pacific region," a senior official at Japan's Defence Ministry told the Nikkei newspaper.

Australia and the US are already co-operating far more closely on missile defence research under a 25-year agreement signed in 2004.

(Australian defence minister) Dr Nelson said recently that the memorandum of understanding would allow Australia to explore practical ways of assisting the US to build a global missile defence system.

This would allow Australia to leverage US technology and ensure mutual development of specific technologies and approaches that would underpin the missile defences of both nations.

Canberra and Tokyo are now in the process of updating an agreement on defence co-operation following the signing of a new bilateral defence agreement by John Howard and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, inMarch.

For more on why Australia sees an important and extremely expensive need to join with the US and Japan on the development of a global 'missile defence shield', there is this thoroughly illuminating analysis from Global Research (excerpts) :
NATO is determined to expand its membership circle and to expand its mandate. Ultimately NATO is slated to become a global military force. Moreover, part of the objectives of NATO as a global military alliance is to ensure the “energy security” of its member states. What this signifies is the militarization of the world’s arteries, strategic pipeline routes, maritime traffic corridors used by oil tankers, and international waters.

The February 7, 2007 Congressional testimony of the U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates...confirms that the United States, aside from Iran, still considers China and Russia as potential adversaries. Secretary Gates told the U.S. Senate that both Russia and China posed threats to the United States: “In addition to fighting the ‘Global War on Terror,’ we also face (…) the uncertain paths of China and Russia, which are both pursuing sophisticated military modernization programs.”

The reaction of the Russians has steadily become more and more apprehensive as they realize that they are being encircled. It has been for quite some time that Russia, China, and their allies have slowly been surrounded. China faces a militarized eastern border in Asia, while Iran has virtually been surrounded, and Russia’s western borders have been infiltrated by NATO.

NATO expansion continues despite the end of the Cold War and promises from the military alliance that it would not expand. Military bases and missile facilities are encircling China, Iran, and the Russian Federation.

The military projects being propelled by the United States, several NATO allies in Europe (namely Britain, Poland, and the Czech Republic), and the Japanese for the establishment of two parallel missile shield projects, threatens both Russia and China. One missile shield will be located in Europe and the other missile shield in the Far East. These missile shields are being elevated under the pretext of hypothetical Iranian and North Korean threats to the United States, Europe, South Korea, and Japan.
So what does all this have to do with Australia?
There has been a gradual naval build-up around China. This includes an increase in the submarine squadrons of the Asia-Pacific region. An Australian report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has warned that an Asiatic arms race is underway. The report writes; “In an arc extending from Pakistan and India through Southeast Asia and up to Japan there is a striking modernization and [military] expansion underway.”

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is also placing greater strategic importance on the island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean as the U.S. deepens its collaboration with Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Japan to militarily encircle China further.The subject of North Korean ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons is presently being used as an ideal basis for further encircling China in the Far East.

Will Australian then be the third partner in this network of 'missile shield defence' bases discussed above? It certainly appears so.

Of course, it's just "research" at this stage.

There has been no official reaction from China to the news of what Australia is planning, but it will come, and it is expected to be as strong as Russia's reaction to US missile shield creep along its borders with Eastern Europe.

Australia's defence budget in 2008 is, officially, in the vicinity of $22 billion. An extraordinary amount of money for defence for a country of only 21 million people that faces no direct threat in its region.

Australia has close, peaceful and trade-rich ties with China and Indonesia. There is no reason why even long-term defence forecasters should be presuming that Australia will be facing such a threat as to be needing a multi-billion dollar missile defence system, or even to become part of the American 'missile defence shield'.

If Australia joins the US and Japan in the expansion of this 'missile defence shield', you can expect the 2009 defence budget to soar beyond $26 billion, or more.

Missile defence doesn't come cheap. Just ask the Americans. Some unofficial estimates claim that since the early 1980s, when the project was known as 'Star Wars', the United States has spent close to $1 trillion in research and development.

But be under no illusions. If Australia is going to find protection under this 'shield', it will have to pay to join the club, and it will have to pay big.

But to what benefit? Australia will become a target of Russia and China primarily because it develops such missile 'defence' capabilities, and ties them into an American system, not because we lack them.

February, 2007 : New US Spying Base Means Australia Is Pre-Committed To All Future American Wars In Our Region
Taxpayers To Foot Astounding $111 Million Bill For Government Advertising

And the Howard government's advertising spending splurge just keeps on getting bigger :

THE Federal Government plans to spend $111.2 million on advertising campaigns this year on everything from bushfire awareness and cervical cancer vaccinations to sensitive policy debates such as workplace relations and private health insurance.

As the Coalition and Labor clashed over whether the Government was running politically motivated advertisements, officials from the Prime Minister's department told a Senate estimates hearing there were 18 current campaigns.

The budget for buying media space for these campaigns was $111.2 million - not including expenses such as advertising agency fees or market research.

The most expensive campaigns included Defence Force recruitment advertisements, with a $17.4 million media placement budget, advertisements promoting superannuation tax changes - $15.8 million - and a $14.5 million campaign promoting private health insurance.

It looks like the anger and outrage from the Australian public, aired all over the media yesterday has already forced the government to rein in its splurging on propaganda relating to workplace changes :

Outside the hearing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Joe Hockey, said no decision had been made on whether to continue the industrial relations ads beyond this week.

He conceded the Government had got its original Work Choices legislation wrong by allowing employers to negotiate agreements that removed entitlements such as penalty rates without compensation. "I wasn't the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations in the past, but if you're saying to me that we got it wrong in the past, well we did."

"We got it wrong."

Labor's industrial relations spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, said that as well as the $4 million cost of media space for the campaign, $475,000 had been spent on newspaper advertisements the weekend after it was decided to change Work Choices.

"The Prime Minister has failed to explain how wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars on pre-election PR campaigns is compatible with prudent economic management."

Of course the Howard government loves to prattle on and on about its "prudent economic management." It's already clear that Howard & Co. are going to use the good health of the Australian economy as the backbone of its re-election campaign.

As usual, though, the Howard government only signaled a change of its splurging habits when it became clear the public was disgusted, and this level of disgust would impact on its re-election chances, as grim as they already are.
Howard Spends More On Industrial Relations Propaganda Than National Security Awareness

Australian Public Furious Over The Millions Howard & Co. Waste Praising Itself Through Relentless Advertising

The John Howard government is quickly spiralling into a pit of no return over widespread public outrage centred on the vast amounts of taxpayer money being spent on government propaganda.

The outrage yesterday was centred around a second, probably more expensive, series of advertisements trying convince the public that changes to their working conditions and pay are good for them. This new campaign comes after an earlier advertising blitz by the government that tried to sell us the same fantasy, at a cost of some $60 million.

But the majority of the Australian public made it clear, months ago, that they don't like 'WorkChoices' and no amount of flashy, wall-to-wall propaganda is going to change their minds.

Howard seems absolutely mystified about this reaction, as though he can't comprehend that Australians know when they are being fed outrageous lies and spin. After 11 years, and more than $1.7 billion worth of government propaganda, or 'awareness campaigns', it appears the vast majority of Australians have now fully woken up to Howard's use of taxpayer funded advertising to attempt to shape the minds and guide the opinions of the people.

It's clearly not working anymore.

The Australian government finally realised last week that the 'WorkChoices' brand name it gave to its widely unpopular industrial relations reforms is absolutely worthless, and had to be dumped.

So they decided to rename the program of reforms, as though they believed the Australian public would think it was all something new and different, instead of the same reheated degradation of their working lives.

From the rage and disgust being vented across talk back radio, letters to the editor and thousands of blog comments, it is clear that millions of Australians are insulted by this latest Howard trick.

In just seven days, the Australian government will have spent more than $4 million of taxpayers money on advertising new changes, and a new name, for its beleaguered reforms of the Australian workplace. That is, the reforms of the reforms that only two months ago they said would not change at all.

In comparison, the Australian government spent only $4.8 million over 16 months in advertising related to national security.

Wasn't terrorism supposed to be the greatest threat to the Australian public? If the government's rampaging advertising splurges are to be believed, it now considers its own workplace reforms to be the greater threat.

Or at least, it believes the public widespread rejection of the reforms is the greatest threat to the government's existence, and chances of being re-elected come November :

A Senate estimates committee heard yesterday the Government would spend $4.1million of taxpayers' money on a single week of advertising about its plans to introduce a fairness test as part of its Work Choices laws, while it had spent $4.8million on a 16-month campaign on security.

The spending revealed "quite a lot" about the Government's spending priorities, ALP senator John Faulkner said. He calculated the IR ad spending would cost $28,472 an hour.

The attack came as John Howard rejected Labor's criticism of the Government's $111million spending on advertisements, accusing Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd of hypocrisy.

And the wasting of taxpayers money doesn't end there. The Howard government is now planning an 'awareness campaign' related to climate change that will shake more than $50 million out of the taxpayers.

$50 million to tell us about the reality of climate change? Are they out of their f..king minds?

Or will the 'climate change campaign' be something else altogether? Yet another publicly funded exercise in the government patting itself on the back?

Of course it will be. Haven't most of the government's advertising campaigns been, either directly or indirectly, a way of shouting to the Australian public "Lookit! We did good! Lookit! Thank us! Praise us! We trieds real hards to be good! Lookit!"

Whatever happened to just shutting the hell up and getting on with your job? It used to be the Australian way.

Howard & Co, however, just can't stop talking about how great a job they think they've been doing, all the while ignoring the obvious fact that Australians now work harder, and longer, than they have in a century, and this is one of the chief reasons why the economy is doing so well right now.

Not according to Howard & Co. It's all because of them, and they won't let you forget it.

The remarkably sensitive Howard government needs all the praise it can get, even if it has to praise itself. At the expense of the taxpayers of course.

Australians are clearly sick of the government wasting their money like this, and, quite bizarrely, the use of taxpayers money to fund political advertising may now likely be one of the more controversial issues of the coming federal election. This is, of course, the time when the government spends more money than usual on advertising.

How will the Howard government counter Labor claims and piles of proof of the money they've wasted in the past 11 years on advertising?

Perhaps with another round of advertising. Yes. That's the ticket. Another $50 million worth of ads telling us why they don't waste our money on advertising.

The rising tide of absurdities and ironies now dragging the Howard government down into the deepest, darkest depths grows larger by the day. And this time, they won't be able to ad-spend their way out of trouble.

The Australian public are well and truly onto them now. And they're bloody pissed off about it.

As they well should be.

A rough estimate, by my reckoning, says the $50 million the government intends to spend on self-praise over its alleged plans to combat climate change would outfit more than 3500 Australian homes with a pretty decent solar power set-up, and a rainwater tank.

3500 homes on solar and rainwater for the cost of a Howard government ad campaign that will tell us nothing we don't already know, or can't find out for ourselves, if we're interested enough to want to know more.

3500 homes!

Ahh, you can only dream they'd spend the money in such a practical way.

More Outrageous Howard Splurging Of Public Money : $540,000 To Renovate A Dining Room - Cancelled After Public Airs Its Disgust

Howard Admits Coalition Faces Annihilation At Federal Election - Says He Has No More "Rabbits" To Pull Out Of His Hat

A Small Slice Of The Public Opinion On 'WorkChoices' And Howard's Changes To The Australian Workplace - Sad Tales And Horror Stories

Howard Splurges $20 Million On Maintaining Two Homes When He Only Needs One

Rudd Promises To Restrict Government Spending On Advertising Campaigns

Friday, May 18, 2007

Army Will Be Deployed To Streets Of Sydney For APEC Conference

City Centre To Become Mini-Police State For Up To Two Weeks

Random Body Searches And Detentions Without Charge

For up to two weeks in September, a huge area of Sydney's central business district, and tourist shopping mecca, will be blockaded by hundreds of police, security guards and Australia's military. Soldiers, armed with assault rifles, will allegedly be given "shoot to kill" rules of engagement to deal with security threats.

Black Hawk helicopters will patrol the skies, snipers will be positioned on the rooftops of some of Sydney's landmark buildings, train stations will be closed down and checkpoints will screen each and every person who tries to enter 'The Zone'.

In a quick series of announcements earlier this week, the state and federal government unveiled the first slab of details revealing just how severe the ultra-security will be when more than 20 world leaders, including Presidents Bush and Putin, descend on Sydney for the APEC summit in September this year.

The publicly released plans read like scenarios culled of the Orwellian police state portrayed in the movie 'V For Vendetta', and Sydneysiders are already expressing their anger and frustration at an event that they know will paralyse the city centre, while they still have to go to work and try to live their lives.

While news that Australian soldiers carrying assault rifles will be patrolling the streets of Sydney was jaw-dropping enough, we've also now learned that special legislation will be introduced, allowed under anti-terror laws, to allow police to pull people they deem to be a possible security threat off the street and detainee them without charge, for days at a time. Other Sydneysiders can look forward to the possibility of being subjected to random full body searches :

...a giant security triangle will envelop an area marked by the Sydney Opera House, Government House and the Sydney Convention Centre.

The corridor to Sydney Airport is also expected to be a declared search zone.

People who venture into the areas will be subject to random body searches during the seven-day conference, with security peaking from September 7-9 when 21 world leaders arrive to Sydney.

Additional legislation will also be introduced to allow security agencies from foreign governments to enforce their own security arrangements while in Australia, News Limited reports.

Bizarrely, the New South Wales premier, Morris Iemma, spun out a fantastic fantasy about how good the APEC summit will be for promoting Sydney internationally as a tourist destination.

Yeah, if your idea of a tourist destination is a place where the streets are locked down by armed checkpoints, where military patrols roam freely and the sky is criss-crossed by thundering Black Hawk helicopters :

Prime Minister John Howard and New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma met today to discuss transport and security for the meeting of 21 world leaders, including US President George W Bush.

The (security) measures mean three city circle train stations – St James, Museum and Circular Quay – will be closed for three days from the Friday, which will be a public holiday in Sydney.

Many other measures have yet to be made public, but other areas of the city centre will also become restricted zones and heavy security will be in place at a number of hotels.

The Sydney Opera House, Government House and the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre will be the key APEC venues.

Mr Howard and Mr Iemma said they hoped the Sydney Harbour Bridge would remain open and that disruptions on the Cahill Expressway, leading to the bridge, would be minimal.

"Some disruption is unavoidable; the only way you avoid disruption is to say that Sydney is closed for business as far as major international gatherings are concerned," Mr Howard said.

"We intend it to be a great weekend for Sydney and Australia and it will be ... both being Sydney boys, we intend to make sure it works."

Mr Iemma said Sydney would gain economically from hosting the summit and from worldwide exposure.

He said during the three days of the event Sydneysiders should attempt to live their lives as normal, but be wary of the closures and lockdowns.

"It's a balance between ensuring a successful conference, a successful gathering and ensuring the safety and security of those who will be participating," Mr Iemma said.

"And at the same time to minimise inconvenience and disruption."

This level of security is moving beyond the absurd, and is an affront to rights of Sydneysiders to move freely about their city.

Here's an idea : choose one of the dozens of isolated island resorts off Australia's east coast, rent the whole thing for a week, deploy the Navy, establish a security zone around the island and hold the APEC conference there.

It's remarkable to think that John Howard thinks APEC will stand as the jewel in the crown of his 11 year long stretch as the leader of Australia.

With free citizens being randomly selected for full body searches, or snatched off the streets of the city and bundled into vans and then held without charge, not to forget the weeks of 'rehearsals' where Black Hawk helicopters will buzz Sydney and its suburbs with thundering flights just above the tree tops, and 'persons of interests' being hauled in for questioning, Sydneysiders are going to get a full-scale taste of what it's like to live in a mini-police state.

The only Sydneysiders looking forward to the APEC summit, and all the delays, hassles and rights violations that will result, are the prime minister and the premier.

Of course, neither of them have to worry about being stuck in gridlock for hours at a time, while fleets of police-escorted presidential motorcades plough through the city centre, as they can always hide away in the back of a speeding ambulance to get to where they want to go. It wouldn't be the first time either of them have beat the gridlock using this method. Solely for "security reasons" of course.

UPDATE : No doubt one of the key security concerns now plaguing the minds of those who must ensure the safety of visiting presidents is the fact that six or more anti-tank rocket launchers, stolen from an Army barracks last year, are still missing.

Go Here For More On The Lost Rocket Launchers
Gillard Tries Her Hand At Stand Up Comedy

And Lands Some Hilarious Blows On Howard & Co.

While prime minister John Howard, and his senior ministers, desperately try to shake off the post-traumatic stress resulting from the worst poll numbers of the 11 year reign of the coalition, federal deputy opposition leader Julia Gillard has been having some fun. At their expense.

The Howard government were publicly humiliated, by themselves, yesterday when they tried to remove the stench-laden word 'WorkChoices' from their vocabulary. Problem is, it's their word for their deeply unpopular changes to the working lives of most Australians. Now they don't want that word used at all anymore.

They seriously think Australians are dopey enough to not realise that the same legislation will be the same legislation, even if it gets a sparkly new name, and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars thrown at its new marketing campaign.

The government burned up more than $44 million of taxpayers money, earlier this year, in an advertising blitz to sell WorkChoices as the best thing since convict workgangs were cut free from their chains. They bombarded us mercilessly with WorkChoices ads, full of happy-smiley people telling us why we were all so lucky to be losing overtime and weekend pay rates.

And it was all for the good of the Australian economy, of course.

During a speech yesterday, Gillard seized on the government's attempt to wipe away the WorkChoices mud and blood, and went in hard.

Most Australian politicians are notoriously bad at cracking jokes, or even saying anything that raises a hearty laugh, so Gillard was skating the thin when she decided to drop a flurry of one liners during a speech in front of diners from the finance and banking industry. From what we've heard so far, she succeeded.

Let's hope there's more laughs, and blitzing one liners like these, during the rest of what is sure to be a bitter, and blood-soaked (from the desperate ranks of the coalition government anyway) federal election campaign :

"It has become clear today that John Howard has now banned the use of the word Work Choices," Ms Gillard told the group.

"I just want you to understand that John (Howard's) changing of the language isn't going to stop there.

"We will no longer refer to the Iraq war, that will be referred to as the Iraq peace.

"Helen Coonan will no longer be the Minister for Communications – she will be referred to as the minister for truth.

"At the same time the Treasurer (Peter Costello) will now be renamed as the minister for plenty.

"And further tax cuts will be referred to as Pete's plenty payments.

"And, unfortunately, your industry is not exempt, you will be required to go through long documents and paperwork and after the word 'interest rates' you will need to insert 'at record lows due to the Howard Government' ... "

That final blitzer from Gillard is right on the money. The Howard government still doesn't understand just how infuriated most Australians feel when they get home from a 12 or 14 work day, turn on the TV and see John Howard, or the Treasurer, Peter Costello, gloating and ego-tripping about how it is due only to their sheer brilliance and masterful ways that the Australian economy is doing so well.

Never a word from either to acknowledge that the majority of Australian workers now work harder, and longer, than their parents or grandparents did. Never a word of thanks from the prime minister to all those working families who barely get to spend any time together any more.

In the fantasy world of John Howard and Peter Costello, Australia's workers have nothing to do with the strength of the economy. It's all thanks to them. And they'll spend millions more dollars in advertising to tell us all how good we've got it, and how they are at giving us back our own money.

And they're mystified as to why they're plunging in the polls?

Get a clue.

John Howard said, a few months back, that because the economy was going great guns, Australians have never had it so good. It's a statement that is already coming back to haunt him, and will likely be used by the opposition government during the election campaign to show just how out of touch, and uniformed, John Howard is to the very tough times being experienced by millions of working Australian families, many of whom are struggling to hold on their homes, while others are struggling to find a home they can afford to buy.

At least, Howard, and Costello, are now getting an idea what it's like to be hitting the hard times.

Have no doubt, for the federal government the good times are now officially over.

They are hastily rebranding, rewriting, reshaping their key policies and desperately trying to win back the support of the Australian public, while the front ranks of the opposition, like Julia Gillard, are cracking jokes at their expense and clearly enjoying the self-demolition of the coalition government.

There is something extremely Orwellian about the way the Howard government brands and re-brands their messages and policies. And Gillard nailed it in her jokefest. In Howard's newspeak, war is peace, no choice is choices and tough times are good times.

Even the good news from the government, like most of the recent federal budget, comes coated and sly talk and sticky with spin. Most of it completely unnecessary. The good news is lost in the head-thumping demands from Howard and Costello for us all to recognise how kind they have been to us. Australians are clearly sick of this "Don't thank you, thank me" mind game from the government. And they're telling the pollsters exactly that.

Why they see a constant need to treat Australians like morons who don't understand what's going on is beyond me. Other governments have fallen into this trap before, and paid the price. Australians were legendary around the world for most of the 20th century for not tolerating bullshit, and railing against hypocrisy.

Have we changed so much that we now don't mind when the leaders of our nation try to put one over us? No, we haven't. Of course we haven't. The bullshit detector is still active in most of us, and the Howard government is setting off its shrill alarm at least once or twice every day now.

That wouldn't have mattered so much in the past - we are smart enough to know that politicians twist the truth like dogs like their own balls - but Howard and his crew now struggle under the burden of a solid decade of lies, distortions, scandals and gnawing spin. Children overboard, the Iraq War, AWB, WorkChoices...the list is long, and there's something in it for every Australian to be disgusted and dirty about.

If there was ever a time for Howard to plug the flow of lies and spin, now is that time. Actually, that time is well past overdue. But, as the rebranding of WorkChoices shows, he still doesn't get it.

The more Howard, and his senior ministers, treat us like a bunch of idiots, the lower the government drops in the polls.

You'd think at least one of Howard's 60 or more advisers would have gotten in his ear by now and told him that just because someone is willing to smile and shake his hand, or give him a wave in the street, doesn't mean they don't walk away muttering, "What a tool, what a phony, there's no way in hell I'm going to vote for that clown again."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Car Bomb Of Love

A 27 year old Sydney woman is to stand trial for allegedly planning to detonate a car bomb in Sydney, to show her jailed boyfriend the depth of her love and devotion.

The woman is said to be "obsessed" with her boyfriend, and has had his name and "corrective services inmate number" tattooed across her body.

The story, according to police documents, goes that the boyfriend told the woman that he would marry her, but only after she undertook a 'mission' for him, to prove her love. If her 'mission' was successful, then he would marry her.

The alleged 'mission' was that the woman would build, place and then detonate an explosive device inside a vehicle in Sydney's Kings Cross.

The woman has been charged with "conspiring to commit murder and conspiring to cause explosives to be placed in or near a public place." She faces trial in the coming months.

The woman, according to the police statement, has denied the veracity of the main charges laid against her.

From :

The statement referred to conversations between them in March last year, which police believed related to Courtney's "mission".

"Police investigations have revealed the accused had previously approached a number of people, requesting their assistance in the preparation, purchase of materials and manufacture of improvised explosive devices."

On March 3 last year, NSW and Federal police executing a search warrant at her home seized various items which police said could be used in the construction of an improvised explosive device.

They allegedly included a timing kit, chemical lists, rolls of tape, a receipt for two litres of ammonia and electric motors.

There's a number of terrorism-related trials underway in Australia right now, and more in the process of reaching the courts, but this is the only one where someone is alleged to have plotted to commit an act of terrorism in the name of love.

Usually, the alleged motivation is hate, revenge or intolerance.