Big business influence wanes as public rejects ‘bizonomics’

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Their trouble is the way the era of micro-economic reform initiated by the Hawke-Keating government in the 1980s eventually degenerated into “bizonomics” – the pseudo-economic belief that what’s good for big business is good for the economy.

Part of this is the belief that when you privatise a government-owned business, or outsource the delivery of government services to for-profit providers – when you move economic assets and activity from the “public” column to the “private” column – you’ve self-evidently raised economic efficiency and wellbeing.

Provoking an engrossing debate between economists, Dr  Mike Keating, a top economic adviser in the (no relation) Keating era, used a post and a rejoinder on John Menadue’s blogsite to claim the early reformers believed that who owned a business wasn’t as important as whether privatising it would make its industry more competitive or less.

True, Mike. Trouble is, the advisers and ministers who followed the Keating² era weren’t so discerning, nor so scrupulous.

In those days, the goal of making industries more “competitive” meant turning up the competition from imports, or removing government regulation designed to inhibited competition between local players.

These days, following the degeneration to bizonomics, making industry more competitive means granting concessions to make chief executives’ lives easier.

I remember when part of the Keatings’ motive for dismantling protection against imports was to cure Australia’s lazy business people of their predilection for running to Canberra for help whenever times got tough

Did Macron Just Convince Trump to Re-enter The Paris Agreement?

The friendship between the United States and France goes way back—all the way to 1775, when France secretly began sending supplies to the Americans during the Revolutionary War. In fact, France was the first ally of the new United States. (Of course, it helped that France was pretty angry at Great Britain over the territory it lost during the French and Indian War.)

Now, almost 250 years later, President Trump has ruffled some French feathers by pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, signed by nearly 200 nations to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But newly minted French president Emmanuel Macron wasn’t about to let Trump’s pullout ruin a good friendship—something that was made abundantly clear when the two leaders met in Paris last week.

By many accounts, Macron is a true optimist. Perhaps his youth has something to do with his lack of negativity; at 39, he is France’s youngest leader since Napoleon, and the first to be born after 1958. His predecessor and former boss Francois Hollande said Macron “radiated joy” when he worked for him, an odd statement considering Hollande’s dour disposition. (The Telegraph’s William Langley once called the ex-president “a politician with the personality of bread mold.”)

“An almost preternaturally sunny demeanour, combined with his winning way with words, has been the new president’s magic formula,” writes Hugh Schofield, the Paris correspondent for BBC News. He also noted that Macron’s “resplendent” personality was going to be “tested like never before.”

Well, Macron may have just aced the Trump test. And he did it by launching a charm offensive that allowed him not only to forcefully address their main point of contention—Trump’s controversial withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement—but to get Trump to soften his climate stance, something no other politician, American or otherwise, has yet accomplished.

In a Sunday interview with the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche, Macron said he pressed Trump on the possibility of bringing America back into the agreement.

Donald Trump listened to me,” Macron said, according to AP. “He understood the reason for my position, notably the link between climate change and terrorism.” The French president added: “He said he would try to find a solution in the coming months. We spoke in detail about what could allow him to return to the Paris deal.”

During a joint news conference after the meeting, Trump said “something could happen with respect to the Paris accord…We’ll see what happens. But we’ll talk about that in the coming period of time. If it happens, that will be wonderful. If it doesn’t, that’s okay, too.”

Perhaps France—and for that matter, Europe—has found a “Trump whisperer” in Macron, who also said during his interview Sunday that he believes Trump left the country with a “better image of France than upon his arrival.” (Angela Merkel, take note.)

“Our countries are friends, so we should be too,” Macron said, adding his belief that after their meeting, the two leaders gained a “better, intimate knowledge of each other.”

When they met, Trump and Macron shared a seemingly neverending handshake. Hopefully, they’ll soon be shaking hands to celebrate America’s

re-entry to the Paris agreement. To Monsieur Macron, we say, Bonne chance!

‘We are not alone’: Nasa telescope finds 10 Earth-like planets

Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, today announced that the costs of doing business and costs of living would be eased in the Coffs Harbour electorate due to a range of stamp duty cuts from the NSW Government’s Budget.

Mr Fraser welcomed the package of Budget reforms for families, farmers and small businesses across the Coffs Harbour electorate.

As part of the 2017-18 Budget, $1.6 Billion worth of duties will be cut including stamp duty for first home buyers, Lenders Mortgage Insurance duties and duties on crop and livestock insurance.

“These reductions are expected to save farmers and NSW small businesses, including those in the Coffs Harbour electorate, a total of $330m over the next four years,” Mr Fraser said.

“Small business is the lifeblood of the Coffs Harbour electorate economy and these cuts will ease the pressures business-owners feel.”

“As a Government always looking at how to better support farmers across the state, I’m proud that duties on crop and livestock insurance will be abolished from the start of next year.”

“The changes will assist with cash flow and help farmers with a stronger regional economy where the whole state benefits.”

“To help people looking to buy their first home, our housing affordability package includes stamp duty exemptions for houses up to $650,000 and discounts for purchases up to $800,000 for both existing and new homes.

“We are also getting rid of duty charged on lenders’ mortgage insurance, which is often required by banks to lend to first homebuyers with limited deposits, providing a saving of around $2,900 to someone buying an $800,000 property.

From 1 January 2018, the NSW Government will abolish insurance duties for small businesses on commercial vehicle insurance (including aircraft), professional indemnity insurance, and product and public liability insurance.

The changes will apply to businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $2 million

‘IT FRUSTRATES ME:’ BARNABY JOYCE HITS OUT AT LIBERALPARTY

 Barnaby Joyce hits out at Liberal party infighting

Exclusive: Nationals leader says renewed debate on marriage equality is not helping Coalition’s cause and will drive voters to One Nation

Barnaby Joyce
 Barnaby Joyce says many voters now view the government as a ‘philosophers’ club’ rather than a group concerned with improving living standards and jobs. Photograph: Mike Bower

Barnaby Joyce has unloaded on his Liberal colleagues in Canberra, saying constant infighting is driving disaffected voters to One Nation, and branding a renewed internal debate about marriage equality as divisive and unhelpful.

The deputy prime minister and Nationals leader told Guardian Australia that many voters were now of the view that the government was a “philosophers’ club” rather than a group of people concerned with improving living standards and jobs.

Joyce said a renewed debate within the Coalition about marriage equality would aggravate voters even more, and the government needed to stick by its policy of putting the legalisation of same-sex marriage to a plebiscite.

He said voters would be furious if they were not given a say on an issue that remained divisive in some communities.

Asked whether a decision by the Liberal party to move to a conscience vote position in this parliament would blow up the Coalition agreement between himself and the prime minister, Joyce said: “I have no idea. It just frustrates me.”

Last week, the veteran Nationals senator John Williams publicly warned the Liberals against moving away from the plebiscite, saying it was part of the Coalition agreement between Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull.

The Liberal senator Dean Smith has signalled he will bring forward a new marriage equality bill once federal parliament resumes after the winter break, which will trigger a renewed party-room debate about the Coalition’s position on the issue.

Several Liberal MPs want the party to offer a conscience vote on marriage equality given that the plebiscite has been rejected by the parliament.

Joyce will address the Liberal National party convention in Queensland this weekend, and the deputy prime minister is preoccupied with a looming election in the state.

That will be a key test of One Nation’s political support in Queensland – a state with several federal marginal seats, and which will determine the outcome of the next federal election.

Joyce is furious about the lack of discipline within the Liberal party in Canberra, and suggests the current war of words between Tony Abbott and Turnbull will hurt the LNP’s chances in Queensland.

“Any internal war is unhelpful,” he said in an interview with Guardian Australia. “The message going back to punterville is ‘it’s like a philosophers’ club down there’.”

“You are arguing about Menzies’ view on conservatism, you are having a debate about international agreements and renewable energy targets which, I in Smith Street Jonesville, don’t get, and now, the last thing needed to solve all this is talking about changing the definition of marriage.

“[The Liberal party] needs to concentrate on things that actually matter.

“In north Queensland, they have 20% unemployment. You know the only thing they want to hear? How you are going to get them a job. You know what they want to hear in regional areas? How you are going to invest in infrastructure, like inland rail.”

He said people in regional areas were watching the antics in Canberra with incomprehension. “They look at political candidates and say ‘have you ever actually lived, mate? Do you know what it’s like to not have any money in your wallet? Do you know what it’s like to think, shit, i  want a life with dignity and I’m on the pension, and I can’t actually afford food, so how do I do this and keep my dignity in this town?’”

Joyce said that raising the legalisation of same-sex marriage in that “febrile” climate was like a red rag to a bull.

“[Voters] become hypersensitive about bullshit arguments,” he said. “They find it really aggravating. If we start another debate on gay marriage, they are going to get really aggravated.”

The federal government would drive disaffected voters to One Nation if it didn’t focus on practical issues, and if it continued to give the voters the impression it was a debating club rather than a government, Joyce said.

“The more you talk about issues which have nothing to do with people’s lives, the more One Nation’s vote will go up, and not by reason of One Nation’s policies.”

He said the same-sex marriage debate was dangerous in this context because “the fact you are talking about an issue that has nothing to do with their lives will lose you votes”.

“People wonder why One Nation is becoming so powerful, they think, ‘isn’t this crazy’ – but you did it.”

“BROAD CHURCH” POLITICAL PARTIES NEED COMMON GROUND

To describe a political party as a broad church is either meaningless or to state the obvious.

It doesn’t advance the discussion very far at all yet this description is often trotted out to defend our major political parties. This is the case currently with the Liberals and the Greens, especially since it was once most commonly associated with Labor.

On policy matters a broad church is only a positive environment in which to work if there is enough common ground for a ...On policy matters a broad church is only a positive environment in which to work if there is enough common ground for a negotiated consensus. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

All that the concept “broad church” conveys is that within any organisation, including political parties, there exists a wide range of views about its vision and how best to achieve it. Those holding such varied views may become groups and factions or just be a collection of individuals. This “broad church” appellation can apply not just to democratic parties but also to an authoritarian organisation whether it is a church or a political party.

Factions may assist efficient internal operations within large parties because like-minded individuals are attracted to working together. They can facilitate healthy internal discussion around competing values like liberalism and conservatism, socialism and social democracy, radical environmentalism and moderate conservationism. They can provide internal education and training for members aspiring to higher office and are often linked to friendly think tanks, trade unions and/or business groups.

Some of their activities, including exclusive social functions, are relatively harmless but they do have a much darker side if they primarily become vehicles for personal promotion to the exclusion of anyone, regardless of merit, who belongs to an opposing faction. They then become destructive of the common purpose of the larger organisation.

What essentially matters is not breadth of views, which is inevitable within any large organisation unless the members are all brain-washed, but how internal power and authority are exercised and how the members with diverse views relate to one another.

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Positive values like respect and tolerance should prevail in an ideal world, whereas in practice within many broad churches it is more common to find disrespect, contempt and sometimes even hatred for others of a different factional persuasion. While contempt is sometimes expressed between competing political parties during election campaigns it frequently also emerges from factional opponents within the same party. There have been many examples of this recently in leadership contests on both sides of major party politics.

On policy matters a broad church is only a positive environment in which to work if there is enough common ground for a negotiated consensus or agreement to emerge among the diversity. Once common ground ceases to exist on contentious issues then policy-making becomes fraught.

HAVE YOUR SAY’ TO ACHIEVE GENDER EQUALITY

The Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, today urged people living in the Coffs Harbour electorate to identify the challenges faced by women and suggest solutions for these issues, in the ‘Have Your Say’ online survey.

“There is still a gap between men and women’s financial status, workforce participation, caring and family responsibilities and vulnerability to violence, among other issues. That’s why the government is working on the state’s first Women’s Strategy to tackle these issues,” Mr Fraser said.

The Strategy will focus on addressing key challenges in the local community, including; economic empowerment, health and wellbeing, culture and identity and leadership.

Mr Fraser said the Strategy is an important initiative, that will improve equality and equity for women and girls in the Coffs Harbour electorate and across NSW.

“Community participation is key to developing an effective strategy, we need as many people as possible involved in order to work to identify and overcome the impacts of inequity and discrimination on women and girls,” Mr Fraser added.

Minister for Women, Tanya Davies, said eight community workshops had just been held across the state.

“I heard first-hand about the issues that affect women every day. We want to make sure anyone who could not attend these consultations can still have their say,” Mrs Davies said.

The NSW Government is seeking feedback from individuals and organisations to identify priority areas for action and investment.

“We need to be mindful that gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a social and economic issue that affects everyone,” Mrs Davies said.

Results from the survey will be considered during the development of the NSW Women’s Strategy, to be released later this year.

To ‘Have Your Say’ please visit: www.women.nsw.gov.au/news/items/nsw-womens-strategy-public-consultation. Feedback is being sought by Monday July 31 and can be given online, via email or post.

or further information go to www.women.nsw.gov.au .

13 July 2017

Ends

For media comment contact Andrew Fraser on 6652 6500 or 0427 241 522

Greg Combet hits back at cricket Australia’s chairman

 

 

 

“David Peever’s assertion that I am using my advisory role to the cricket players to re-prosecute some decades old industrial relations grudge is absurd,” Combet told Guardian Australia. “My advice has been solely directed to the achievement of the players’ goals – a fair share for all male and female players in the revenue they create, and to look after grassroots cricket.”

Writing in the Australian on Thursday, Peever claimed Combet, currently acting in a consultancy role with the Australian Cricketers’ Association, was settling old scores. “That a former politician and adviser to the ACA, Greg Combet, has been a foremost public proponent of this myth ought to ring alarm bells,” Peever wrote. “I have no recollection of discussing either industrial relations or cricket with Combet and can only conclude he has some old axe to grind on unrelated matters.”

Combet says Peever and CA should focus their energies on building bridges, not tearing them down. “Without the trust and commitment of the players in a partnership that benefits the game, Cricket Australia has no game at all – the Packer years were evidence enough of that,” Combet said.

“And yet it is CA that has compromised that trust and commitment by seeking, without adequate explanation, to bust the long-standing revenue share partnership with players.

“Mr Peever now even makes the astonishing claim that the players’ association is damaging the game. That is not the way to build trust with the players.”

ACA consultant Greg Combet says players should be ‘treated as respected partners’.
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 ACA consultant Greg Combet says players should be ‘treated as respected partners’. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Former Australian Council of Trade Unions boss Combet says the central issue in the minds of players is gaining an understanding of how CA spends hundreds of millions of dollars in cricket revenue each year, and what proportion of that money is allocated to each of the players, grassroots cricket, and the different categories of CA’s administrative staff.

“CA has resisted repeated requests by the players association for such detailed financial information,” Combet says. “It’s the players who fundamentally bring in the revenue, and it’s fair enough that they are treated as respected partners with a share of the revenue and a say in the running of the game.”

On Thursday, Peever stuck firmly to CA’s insistence that their move to end a 20-year-old revenue sharing agreement with players was focused solely on funding grassroots cricket, and that both the ACA and media were perpetuating a “myth” about distribution of the game’s riches.

“It disrespects all those from across the cricket community who have flooded CA, and me personally, with messages of support because they see first-hand the chronic underfunding of the game at the grassroots level, in particular junior cricket,” Peever wrote. “These people are true servants of the game and to imply that they are mere pawns in some ideological power play has outraged many.”

Combet says Peever’s salvo was ill-timed, coming only two days after ACA CEO Alistair Nicholson and Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland finally resumed their positions at the negotiation table in a four hour meeting.

“Mr Peever’s responsibility as chair of CA is to unite and lead the game – and yet his first public comments on the pay dispute are divisive and seek to apportion blame for a dispute of CA’s own design,” Combet said.

“Even more surprisingly, his comments come at a time when sensitive discussions are seeking to resolve the dispute. Everyone involved, especially Mr Peever, should be focusing on resolving the dispute, not deepening it.”

Government has no plans to build coal-fired power station, Josh Frydenberg says

Energy minister hoses down lobbying from Nationals, saying the government would only support new coal-fired power if the market backed it

 Bayswater power station, Muswellbrook, NSW. Energy minister Josh Frydenberg says there are no current plans to build a new coal-fired power station.
 Bayswater power station, Muswellbrook, NSW. Energy minister Josh Frydenberg says there are no current plans to build a new coal-fired power station. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

The government has no plans to build a coal-fired power station, energy minister Josh Frydenberg has said, despite repeated public lobbying by senior Nationals to bring more coal into the system.

Frydenberg told the ABC on Wednesday if the market supported a new coal-fired power station, “then we will support that”.

The minister’s comments follow a declaration on Tuesday by the Liberal frontbencher, Craig Laundy, that the Turnbull government was not interested in building new power stations, but would look at retrofitting existing plants.

Frydenberg told the ABC on Wedenesday the government wanted to pursue a technology-neutral approach to energy policy.

“We don’t have a plan on the table to build a new coal-fired power station because today we are getting more than 60% of our electricity from that source,” he said. “If new coal is built, if the market supports that, then we will support that.”

Frydenberg said he had asked the Australian Energy Market Operator to provide advice to the government about the dispatachable power requirements of the national electricity market once two ageing coal plants in New South Wales – Liddell and Vales Point – closed some time after 2020.

The Minerals Council of Australia has been lobbying the government to pursue a system of reverse auctions to deal with the dispatchable power issue.

The scheme being pursued by the MCA would set an emissions cut-off that would allow so-called “clean” coal plants to compete with gas and renewables to supply baseload power.

“If that’s coal, or gas, or renewables with storage, or a combination of the above, then we’ll be prepared to support it,” he said.

The federal minister also defended himself from criticism from state governments about his decision to defer discussion of the central recommendation of the Finkel review – a new clean energy target.

Energy ministers are due to meet on Friday to consider the Finkel review and other issues of concern, such as gas exploration, but Frydenberg has told the states they cannot discuss the clean energy target because the government has not yet resolved whether it will pursue it.

Frydenberg said on Wednesday he would happily hear arguments from the states about the clean energy target, but Canberra would not rush to any decision.

Bailey also shot down lobbying by the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, and the federal resources minister, Matt Canavan, who have been pushing for a new coal-fired power station in Queensland.

“We have oodles of traditional baseload power in Queensland. To propose we need a ninth station is just absolute nonsense,” Bailey told Guardian Australia. “What we need is clean energy. Locking in high-carbon emissions for a generation and a half is one of the most irresponsible policy propositions I’ve heard.”

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NOMINATE FOR COMMUNITY FUNDS

The NSW Government is calling on council, local businesses and community groups in the Coffs Harbour electorate to nominate community infrastructure projects for funding under the first round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund, which opens on 16 August 2017.

“The Stronger Country Communities Fund will build new parks, playgrounds and pathways and refurbish local schools, health facilities, community centres, libraries and local parks for rural and regional communities,” Mr Fraser said.

“This funding will realise projects that the community needs and wants making them even more vibrant places to live and work.

“Although councils will submit all applications to the fund, community groups are strongly encouraged to identify proposals that meet local aspirations and ensure their local councils are aware of their interest in accessing this funding.”

Mr Fraser said the fund will support projects between $100,000 and $1 million, or higher with financial co-contribution.

“The Stronger Country Communities Fund is a once-in-a-generation investment in the facilities and services that makes our towns and regional cities the best places in NSW to live and work.”

The Stronger Country Communities Fund is part of the NSW Government’s $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund, designed to improve economic growth and productivity with investment in regional communities.

Further information available at www.nsw.gov.au/strongercountrycommunities