Joining the Dots

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I have just checked my blog and realised that it is now 6 days since I last posted.  Why?  Well, I could tell you about how busy I have been but that is not really true.  Life has been ticking along and there has been plenty of activity.  On Wednesday I took our 2 granddaughters to see the matinee performance of “Matilda – The Musical”.  This was their Christmas gift from us and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.  Then I spent Thursday and Friday in Sydney on work-related business so there really has not been a huge amount of time for blogging.

However, the real truth is that I have felt so overwhelmed by the recent political events, both domestic and international, that it has been quite difficult to think about writing about the simple things that I do here at home.  When you add in a dose of exceptionally hot weather the inertia really takes over.

It is difficult not to despair when the Treasurer of this nation (supported by his colleagues) brings a lump of coal into the parliament and mercilessly mocks those for whom climate change is a real and present threat.  This, in a week where much of the country is sweltering through some of the highest temperatures on record and it is set to be even worse in Queensland tomorrow.

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What will it take for these dinosaurs to understand that we are living with climate change here and now and there is a real risk to public health?  Yet their answer is to dig up more coal to supposedly generate cheaper power for the air-conditioners which are deemed essential to cope with the environment we have created.  Will they ever manage to join the dots and work out that the solution is not digging up more coal?

Here are a few basic statistics from NASA.  15 of the hottest 16 years on record have been since 2001.  Climate change, perhaps?  Why would our government believe that?  A lump of coal is much more fun!

This article should be compulsory reading for all of our politicians.

 

 

Can It Get Any Worse?

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WARNING:  This post is a political piece which contains my personal opinions.

Remember my embarrassment over our then Prime Minister’s speech at the G20 meeting less than 12 months ago?  I wrote my thoughts here.

Then there was my relief as he was replaced as leader of our country a little over a month ago in this post.

But Tony Abbott has bobbed up again on the other side of the world to hold Australia up as a shining example of how to handle one of the largest humanitarian crises the world has witnessed.

2015-10-28 01Here is what he said:

Transcript of former prime minister Tony Abbott’s address to the Second Annual Margaret Thatcher Lecture in London on October 27, 2015.

I am both honoured and humbled to give this lecture in memory of Margaret Thatcher, who revived the “great” in Great Britain and whose leadership was the gold standard to which so many others have subsequently aspired.

But unlike you, we have at least solved one of the wicked problems now afflicting Europe: we have secured our own borders

She was, indeed, the longest serving British prime minister since Walpole; but she was so much more than just an election-winner.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

A “mind-the-shop” conservative she most emphatically was not. She didn’t just respond to events; she shaped them; and, in so doing, she changed Britain and she changed the world.

It’s true that the world she helped to create: of rising prosperity almost everywhere driven by freer markets; of declining international tension under benign American leadership; and of increasing democratic pluralism inspired by the collapse of communism, now seems a fading dream – but we, her admirers, are here to improve things not to lament them.

Obviously, the defeat of Stephen Harper’s government in Canada is a bitter blow – but he changed his country for the better and he proved that conservatives can win elections not once but three times running.

In this audience, some may be disappointed that my own prime ministership in Australia lasted two years after removing Labor from office – but as Lord Melbourne is supposed to have said “to be the Queen’s first minister (even) for three months is a damn fine thing”.

Set against the decisive victory of the Cameron government here – helped by Lynton Crosby – and John Key’s third straight win in New Zealand, recent developments are hardly the eclipse of conservatism, more the ebb and flow of politics.

The lesson of Margaret Thatcher’s life is that strong leaders can make a difference; that what’s impossible today may be almost inevitable tomorrow; and that optimism is always justified while good people are prepared to “have a go”, as we say in Australia.

I was a student, at Oxford, at the time of the Falklands War. I recall the shock Britons felt at the Argentine invasion and their visceral determination to reverse it. I remember thrilling to Enoch Powell’s parliamentary admonition that, by her response, the “iron lady’s” true mettle would soon be judged – because I sensed that she would not let us down.

And I now know, courtesy of Charles Moore’s splendid biography, how the response could so easily have been hand-wringing and impotent appeals to the United Nations had Mrs T not seized upon a military plan brought to her by a relatively junior officer.

That was the essence of her greatness: on the things that mattered, she refused to believe that nothing could be done and would work relentlessly to set things right.

She believed in Britain – in its history, in its institutions and in its values – and, by acting on her beliefs, she helped others to believe as well.

She refused to accept the post-war consensus that Britain’s great days were over. She instinctively rejected government-knows-best approaches to running the economy and to managing society. And she was convinced that the world was more likely to prosper if Britain was a serious country with a global role rather than just another province in the united states of Europe.

She inherited a Britain that was in rapid economic and strategic decline; and left it the most dynamic economy in Europe, and the United States’ principal global ally.

On Soviet missiles aimed at Europe, she didn’t see nuclear annihilation to be averted at all cost but an evil empire to be shown that aggression would not pay. On the Falklands, she did not see an Argentine grievance to be negotiated but a monstrous violation of British sovereignty. On council houses, she did not see a government service but a neglected asset that would better be looked after by owner-occupiers taking pride in their own homes.

She didn’t see unions protecting workers so much as bullying their employers into bankruptcy. She didn’t see state-owned enterprises as “national champions” so much as an endless burden on taxpayers.

There was a moral dimension and an intellectual clarity that made her a hero to liberal-conservatives everywhere, rather than simply another successful politician. To Thatcher, the prime ministership wasn’t about holding office; it was about getting things done. It wasn’t about achieving consensus; it was about doing the right thing.

It’s usually presumptuous to invoke the glorious dead in support of current policy – but your invitation to give this lecture suggests there was at least a hint of Thatcher about my government in Australia: stopping the flow of illegal immigrant boats because a country that can’t control its borders starts to lose control of itself; the repeal of the carbon tax that was socialism masquerading as environmentalism; budget repair so that within five years, the Australian government will once again be living within its means; the free trade agreements with our biggest markets to increase competition and make it fairer; the royal commission into corrupt union bosses; an even stronger alliance with the United States and a readiness to call out Russia for the shooting down of a civilian airliner.

But, like all driven people, Margaret Thatcher was more interested in the next problem than the last one. Today, we best honour her life and legacy by bringing the same tough-mindedness to the problems of our time that she brought to the problems of hers.

Parliamentary democracy and the rule of law; “freedom broadening slowly down from precedent to precedent”; the notion of civilisation as a trust between the living, the dead and the yet-to-be-born: this was the heritage she’d been elected to preserve and strengthen.

Her focus – were she still with us – would be the things of most consequence: managing the nationchanging, culture-shifting population transfers now impacting on Europe; winning the fight in Syria and Iraq which is helping to drive them; and asserting Western civilisation against the challenge of militant Islam.

Naturally, the safety and prosperity that exists almost uniquely in Western countries is an irresistible magnet. These blessings are not the accidents of history but the product of values painstakingly discerned and refined, and of practices carefully cultivated and reinforced over hundreds of years.

Implicitly or explicitly, the imperative to “love your neighbour as you love yourself” is at the heart of every Western polity. It expresses itself in laws protecting workers, in strong social security safety nets, and in the readiness to take in refugees. It’s what makes us decent and humane countries as well as prosperous ones, but – right now – this wholesome instinct is leading much of Europe into catastrophic error.

All countries that say “anyone who gets here can stay here” are now in peril, given the scale of the population movements that are starting to be seen. There are tens – perhaps hundreds – of millions of people, living in poverty and danger who might readily seek to enter a Western country if the opportunity is there.

Who could blame them? Yet no country or continent can open its borders to all comers without fundamentally weakening itself. This is the risk that the countries of Europe now run through misguided altruism.

On a somewhat smaller scale, Australia has faced the same predicament and overcome it. The first wave of illegal arrivals to Australia peaked at 4000 people a year, back in 2001, before the Howard government first stopped the boats: by processing illegal arrivals offshore; by denying them permanent residency; and in a handful of cases, by turning illegal immigrant boats back to Indonesia.

The second wave of illegal boat people was running at the rate of 50,000 a year – and rising fast – by July 2013, when the Rudd government belatedly reversed its opposition to offshore processing; and then my government started turning boats around, even using orange lifeboats when people smugglers deliberately scuttled their vessels.

It’s now 18 months since a single illegal boat has made it to Australia. The immigration detention centres have-all-but-closed; budget costs peaking at $4 billion a year have ended; and – best of all – there are no more deaths at sea. That’s why stopping the boats and restoring border security is the only truly compassionate thing to do.

Because Australia once more has secure borders and because it’s the Australian government rather than people smugglers that now controls our refugee intake, there was massive public support for my government’s decision, just last month, to resettle 12,000 members of persecuted minorities from the Syrian conflict – per capita, the biggest resettlement contribution that any country has made.

Now, while prime minister, I was loath to give public advice to other countries whose situations are different; but because people smuggling is a global problem, and because Australia is the only country that has successfully defeated it – twice, under conservative governments – our experience should be studied.

In Europe, as with Australia, people claiming asylum – invariably – have crossed not one border but many; and are no longer fleeing in fear but are contracting in hope with people smugglers. However desperate, almost by definition, they are economic migrants because they had already escaped persecution when they decided to move again.

Our moral obligation is to receive people fleeing for their lives. It’s not to provide permanent residency to anyone and everyone who would rather live in a prosperous Western country than their own. That’s why the countries of Europe, while absolutely obliged to support the countries neighbouring the Syrian conflict, are more-than-entitled to control their borders against those who are no longer fleeing a conflict but seeking a better life.

This means turning boats around, for people coming by sea. It means denying entry at the border, for people with no legal right to come; and it means establishing camps for people who currently have nowhere to go.

It will require some force; it will require massive logistics and expense; it will gnaw at our consciences – yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever.

We are rediscovering the hard way that justice tempered by mercy is an exacting ideal as too much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all.

The Australian experience proves that the only way to dissuade people seeking to come from afar is not to let them in. Working with other countries and with international agencies is important but the only way to stop people trying to gain entry is firmly and unambiguously to deny it – out of the moral duty to protect one’s own people and to stamp out people smuggling.

So it’s good that Europe has now deployed naval vessels to intercept people smuggling boats in the Mediterranean – but as long as they’re taking passengers aboard rather than turning boats around and sending them back, it’s a facilitator rather than a deterrent.

Some years ago, before the Syrian conflict escalated; extended into Iraq; and metastasised into the ungoverned spaces of Libya, Yemen, Nigeria and Afghanistan, I got into trouble for urging caution in a fight that was “baddies versus baddies”.

Now that a quarter of a million people have been killed, seven million people are internally displaced and four million people are destitute outside its borders and considering coming to Europe, the Syrian conflict is too big and too ramifying not to be everyone’s problem.

The rise of Daesh has turned it into a fight between bad and worse: the Assad regime whose brutality is the Islamic State death cult’s chief local recruiter; and a caliphate seeking to export its apocalyptic version of Islam right around the world.

Given the sheer scale of the horror unfolding in Syria, Iraq and everywhere Daesh gains a foothold – the beheadings, the crucifixions, the mass executions, the hurling off high buildings, the sexual slavery – and its perverse allure across the globe, it’s striking how little has been done to address this problem at its source.

The United States and its allies, including Britain and Australia, have launched airstrikes against this would-be terrorist empire. We’ve helped to contain its advance in Iraq but we haven’t defeated it because it can’t be defeated without more effective local forces on the ground.

Everyone should recoil from an escalating air campaign, perhaps with Western special forces on the ground as well as trainers, in a part of the world that’s such a witches’ brew of danger and complexity and where nothing ever has a happy ending – yet as Margaret Thatcher so clearly understood over the Falklands: those that won’t use decisive force, where needed, end up being dictated to by those who will.

Of course, no American or British or Australian parent should face bereavement in a fight far away – but what is the alternative? Leaving anywhere, even Syria, to the collective determination of Russia, Iran and Daesh should be too horrible to contemplate.

That’s why it’s a pity that the recent UN leaders’ week summit was solely about countering violent extremism – which everyone agrees involves working with Muslim communities – and not about dealing much more effectively with the caliphate that’s now the most potent inspiration for it.

Of course, the challenge of militant Islam needs more than a military solution – but people do have to be protected against potential genocide. Of course, you can’t arrest your way to social harmony – but home grown terrorism does need a strong security response. Of course, the overwhelming majority of Muslims don’t support terrorism – but many still think that death should be the punishment for apostasy. Of course, the true meaning of Islam is a matter for Muslims to resolve – but everyone has a duty to support and protect those decent, humane Muslims who accept cultural diversity.

Looking around the globe, it’s many years since problems have seemed so daunting and solutions less clear. Yet the worse the times and the higher the stakes, the less matters can be left in the too hard basket. More than ever, Western countries need the self-confidence to stand up for ourselves and for the universal decencies of mankind lest the world rapidly become a much worse place.

Like the countries of Europe, Australia struggles to come to terms with the local terrorism that Daesh has inspired. Like you, we are trying to contain Daesh from the air while waiting for a Syrian strategy to emerge. But unlike you, we have at least solved one of the wicked problems now afflicting Europe: we have secured our own borders.

All of us, then, must ponder Margaret Thatcher’s example while we wait to see who might claim her mantle. Good values, clear analysis, and a do-able plan, in our day as in hers, are the essentials of the strong leadership the world needs.

Will this man never realise what an utter fool he is?  If he is still unsure he can certainly find out by checking the trending hashtag #Tone Commandments on Twitter.  The condemnation of his speech has been swift, decisive and universal.  I add my voice.

In the first link at the top of the page I mentioned my embarrassment and the fact that Tony Abbott had made Australia a laughing-stock in the eyes of the world.  Enough is enough.  Australians must stand up and be counted and let the world know that this man does not speak for all Australians and we should make sure that he is roundly condemned and ridiculed by the global community for the appalling diatribe which he delivered today.

A Prime Minister

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As usual with any blog posts which deal with politics, I offer the following disclaimer.

WARNING:  This post is a political piece which contains my personal opinions.

2015-09-23This article by Meshel Laurie was written almost 2 years ago but I have only just discovered it.  It captures my feelings perfectly and I only wish that I had written it.

Will we ever have another Prime Minister who has the courage of his or her convictions and who is prepared to make decisions for the future good of Australia rather than simply eyeing off their own re-election?

And Now He is Gone

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WARNING:  This post is a political piece which contains my personal opinions.

Australia has a new Prime Minister.  Tony Abbott is gone and Malcolm Turnbull is now the leader of this country.

2015-09-15 01There has been much written about this change and the merits or otherwise.  Regardless of political allegiance we all deserve a national leader who is articulate and can represent this country appropriately on the world stage.  Tony Abbott did not.  Here is a sample to illustrate my point.

G20 – What in the World?

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WARNING:  This post is a political piece which contains my personal opinions.

Whether we like it or not the G20 has arrived in Brisbane, the capital city of my home state, Queensland.  Today is a declared public holiday for all who work in the Brisbane City Council area.  I am included in that number.  Even when I was in the city on Monday and Tuesday, there were barricades everywhere and the footpaths were literally swarming with police.

Powerful and influential leaders from nations across the world are descending as I write and the spotlight of the world media will be on Brisbane over the next 3 days.  The total influx of people is in excess of 7,000.  This includes support and security staff for the world leaders as well as a huge contingent of journalists and other other media staff.

So what is the G20?  This link gives a brief, unbiased overview.  In reality, Mr Putin is arriving with a flotilla of Russian warships steaming towards Australian waters, the USA and Chinese delegations fly in with the ink barely dry on an agreement to work together on greenhouse gas emissions and David Cameron has come to hang out with his ‘new best friend’.

david cameronWho knows what the weekend will bring.  The one thing that we will all endure is hot weather.  It does not matter whether you are a young child whose home is here or one of the most powerful leaders in the world – it will be hot – probably hotter on Saturday and Sunday than any previous November day on record in our city.  This is not a one-off.  It is indicative of our changing climate.  Already, most of the temperature records are from the past 10 years, despite the fact that records have been kept for well in excess of 100 years in this country.

Mr Abbott does not think that the G20 is the right forum for discussions about climate change.  That’s right, just continue to bury your head in the sand.  We all know that you do not believe in the science of climate change.  You have told us so, yourself.

ProtestI will not be protesting this weekend but I am sure that there will be others who do.  They will have all sorts of items on their agendas that they want to put in front of this group of powerful and influential leaders.

My weekend will be spent making sure that my garden is kept well-watered and protected from the searing sun and heat as I do my best to ensure the survival of the food crops that I am growing to feed my family.  I will also be thinking of those farmers who struggle to make a livelihood while doing battle with the increasingly extreme weather conditions.  They do this in order to provide food to you and I.  The advertisement below, was one which was banned by the Brisbane Airport Corporation as being “too political” for display during the G20.  It features a South Australian grape producer, David Bruer.  You can read more here.

billboardWhile grapes and the end product, wine, may not be essential to our survival, agriculture in the broader sense is most definitely necessary.

Remember, Mr Abbott – without a planet there will be NO economy.  Addressing the issues of climate change should be front and centre of any global economic forum.

I was looking for a final quote for this post and amazingly I found this.  Need I say more?

G20 summit: Australian PM Tony Abbott tries to block climate talks – and risks his country becoming an international laughing stock

Mr Abbott believes the Brisbane conference is the wrong forum for discussions on the environment.

As host of the G20 summit of world leaders in Brisbane this weekend, Australia had been looking forward to its moment in the sun. However, Tony Abbott’s government risks becoming an international laughing stock, thanks to its attempts to block discussion of climate change.

This week’s landmark agreement between the US and China to reduce carbon emissions has increased pressure on Australia – the only developed country to have gone backwards in fighting climate change – to put the issue on the summit’s agenda.

However, Mr Abbott – who has scrapped a carbon tax and is trying to reduce renewable energy targets – insisted that the G20 was the wrong forum. “This is the world’s premier economic conference, and I… expect the focus will be on economic reform, economic growth, how we drive growth and jobs,” he said.

The agreement by the world’s two biggest polluters, on Wednesday at the Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) summit in Beijing, reportedly took Australia by surprise. Veteran political commentator Michelle Grattan said the government had been “ambushed almost on the eve” of the long-anticipated Brisbane conference.

Under the deal, the US has pledged to slash its emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent of their 2005 levels by 2025, while China has said its emissions will peak by 2030, at the latest, and then decrease.

Next to those goals, Australia’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent of their 2000 levels by 2020 looks inconsequential. Few believe the government will meet even that modest target.

One of the world’s biggest per capita polluters, thanks to its reliance on fossil fuels, Australia is also the world’s largest coal exporter. Mr Abbott – who once dismissed climate change science as “absolute crap” – horrified scientists and environmentalists last month when he described coal as “good for humanity” while opening a new mine in Queensland.

The government has reportedly been fending off last-minute attempts by the US, France and other European nations to have climate change discussed by G20 leaders.

The meeting is seen by many as an important opportunity to build momentum before next year’s Paris conference on climate change, where it is hoped a new global pact will be hammered out.

Australia’s opposition leader, Bill Shorten, warned that if Mr Abbott persisted in his refusal to allow climate change to be discussed in Brisbane, “he will embarrass Australia in front of the rest of the world”. Mr Shorten accused the Prime Minister of holding “flat Earth” views.

Other critics dismissed Mr Abbott’s claim that the G20 was not an appropriate forum. Ms Grattan, a professorial fellow at the University of Canberra, noted that the joint communique issued by the US President, Barack Obama, and the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, referred to climate change “already harming economies around the world”.

With the European Union agreeing last month to reduce carbon emissions by at least 40 per cent of their 1990 levels by 2030, Australia is looking increasingly out of step with the developed world.

**Warning** – Political Opinion Ahead

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As I have mentioned before, this is my blog and I can basically write pretty much whatever I want.  You can choose whether or not you read it.

Tonight I want to let you know about my despair at a couple of policy decisions from our State and Federal governments.  There are many things that cause me angst but here are 2 that have come to my attention in the past day or so.

This is the text of an email is received from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) today.  We have a Prime Minister who wants to revoke the UNESCO World Heritage listing of Tasmanian forests.

“We have quite enough National Parks, we have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest.
“One of the first acts of the incoming Government was to begin the process to try to get out of World Heritage listing 74,000 hectares of country in Tasmania, because [it’s] not pristine forest. It’s forest which has been logged, it’s forest which has been degraded…”
“Why should we lock up, as some kind of world heritage sanctuary, country which has been logged, degraded or planted for timber? Why should we do that?”

Do I look degraded to you?

Does this look degraded to you?
Prime Minister Abbott also said: “Man and the environment are meant for each other,” and that Greg Hunt is “an Environment Minister who appreciates that the environment is meant for man and not just the other way around.”
He supports those who “love what Mother Nature gives us and who want to husband it for the long-term best interests of humanity.”
“The last thing we should want, if we want to genuinely improve our environment, is to want to ban men and women from enjoying it… from making the most of it.”
By “making the most of it”, Prime Minister Abbott means logging the World Heritage forests, destroying the historic agreement reached by the timber industry, workers and environment groups, and ignoring the wishes of a majority of Tasmanians.
A poll published in Launceston’s Examiner on Saturday shows more than 90 per cent of Tasmanians are sick of the conflict over native forestry and support an agreement to end it.
Tasmania’s World Heritage forests are already open for enjoyment. The only way that will change is if the Prime Minister locks them up for logging.
Our petition to UNESCO to stand by their decision to protect Tassie’s forests is ACF’s fastest growing petition.

Next, is the Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman and his Energy Minister, Mark McArdle who have the solar rebate firmly in their sights.  They have announced the scrapping of the 8c/kWh feed-in tariff from July this year, leaving consumers to negotiate directly with the power companies.  This is an online news report.

Queensland Government to axe 8c-per-kWh solar feed-in tariff to cut electricity costs

THOUSANDS of southeast Queensland solar households will lose their guaranteed 8c feed-in tariff and will have to negotiate directly with retailers over a price for the energy they produce.  Energy Minister Mark McArdle will today unveil a significant overhaul of feed-in tariffs, saving other energy users millions of dollars on power bills.Mr McArdle said removing the cost of purchasing the high-priced energy produced by these solar households would put downward pressure on all electricity bills.Solar advocates have today slammed the decision to scrap the 8c feed-in tariff.Lindsay Soutar, the national director of Solar Citizens, said it would be difficult for households with solar to negotiate fair deals with retailers.“There are 40,000 homes that are about to lose the already too small financial return they receive from providing clean energy back into the grid,” she said“And there are thousands of families in Queensland who want to make the move to solar who will now be forced to negotiate directly with retailers for any sort of financial return.“This is incredibly unfair. It is obvious that it will be difficult for individual households to get a good deal from their power company.

The state government has been accused of ignoring warnings about the legal risks associated with cutting the solar power scheme.“They simply don’t have the negotiating power. When retailers set the rules, solar owners lose.”The 284,090 households that receive the 44c tariff will not be affected, with the State Government keeping its commitment to continue paying the more generous amount to those who adopted solar before the scheme was closed.The move will switch the responsibility for paying for rooftop solar power from government-owned distributors to retailers.It will affect almost 40,000 households throughout southeast Queensland that currently receive 8c per kilowatt hour for the energy produced by their rooftop solar panels.Mr McArdle last night told The Courier-Mail that the 8c tariff would have added an extra $110 million to all power bills over six years, had it continued.

Households our fourth biggest power generator

How much you’re subsidising your solar neighbour

Retailers currently get this power for free from distributors and pay solar customers up to 10c per kilowatt hour extra for their power — meaning some customers get up to 18c.“At the moment what happens is that … the feed-in tariff that is paid under the 8c is recovered by the networks and then passed through to Queenslanders in their power bills,” Mr McArdle said.“Placing it on to the retailers will mean there is no pass-through back to consumers who are not using solar.”From July 1, solar households in the Energex distribution network will not get a regulated rate for their energy and must negotiate with retailers. A new regulated rate will be set for the 10,000 solar households on the 8c feed-in tariff in the Ergon Energy area, where there is currently no competition.Mr McArdle said removing the 8c feed-in tariff in the southeast would foster competition ahead of the removal of regulated prices in July 2015.“I don’t think (retailers) will abandon solar customers, because paying the feed-in tariff is part of their market strategy to attract customers to their contracts,” he said.“Customers can then start to play retailers off against each other to get a better deal, and we may well find that the feed-in tariff increases with competition.’’

Tomorrow’s post will be a little less controversial.

What About Sharing?

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My last post and your responses shone a light on those things in our lives for which we are grateful.  Health, happiness, family, financial security, a home and a safe place to live all figured prominently.

Are we so greedy and mean-spirited as to not consider sharing any of this with people less fortunate than ourselves?

Next month we will be presented with a choice that is no choice between the policies of the two major political parties in this country on the treatment of asylum seekers .

Mr Abbott has been telling us for months that he is going to turn the boats around and now Mr Rudd has announced, and I quote: “If you come by boat, you will never permanently live in Australia”.  You can see the whole policy announcement here.

Even more worrying is the fact that almost two-thirds of Australians support this harsh approach.  I am bitterly disappointed that most of our current and would-be politicians have plumbed these callous attitudes in a merciless vote-buying exercise.