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Voting above the line? Read this.

September 5 2013.

There are a lot more "micro" parties running for the federal senate this year, and a good chance of "unexpected" outcomes in the senate with the election of a few micro party candidates based on above-the-line preference flows.

Here is a handy guide to make sure your vote does not end up in the wrong hands: http://www.ozpolitic.com/electoral-reform/senate-group-voting-tickets-above-line-guide.html

Browsable map of GPS marks

August 24 2013.

Check it out here: http://www.ozpolitic.com/fish/map-gps-marks-fishing/index.html

Time for the public debate on the economics of climate change

April 13 2013.

Back in December 2010, the Sustainability Party of Australia and OzPolitic issued our first call to arms on the carbon tax, asking people to write to their local candidates in support of a carbon tax.

At the time our efforts seemed futile. Labor was openly hostile to a tax, probably in response to the Greens adopting a carbon tax policy, and Tony Abbott had steered the coalition to a policy of never putting any kind of price on Carbon. Yet the extraordinary events that followed showed us once again that in politics, anything is possible.

Now we are once again calling on people to support the tax. We are asking people to write to local members and election candidates to voice their support for the tax. We are asking people to finally have the public debate we need on the merits of the tax, without the partisan baggage it attracts. We have 5 months to turn the tide of public opinion.

Search for your local representative in federal parliament here.

Please contact your senators also.

Again, both major parties seem against us, with Abbott committed to 'direct action' and Labor committed to a change to a trading scheme in 2015. This change has already been legislated as part of the original carbon tax package and will go ahead without new legislation, which means support from one of the major parties. The change will happen in 2015-2016, however the fate of the carbon tax will most likely be determined by the policies that the two major parties go into the next federal election with. Although the odds seem stacked against the carbon tax, the reality is much more complicated. For example, prior to taking control of the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott put considerable effort into promoting a carbon tax. You probably didn't notice at the time because his comments about the ('crap') science of climate change were getting far more attention. Unfortunately, Abbott changed his stance on a carbon tax at around the same time he changed his stance on the science.

You can read more about Tony Abbott's remarkable transition on the science and economics of climate change here.

Whatever your views are on how we achieved a carbon tax, I believe the reason we ended up with it is that everyone in the game, be they Greens, Labor, Liberal or Nationals, understands the need for action on climate change, they understand that a carbon tax is the best way to achieve that change, but they also see the political toxicity of a tax with a public that does not always understand the counterintuitive yet fundamental economics behind it.

Back when he was happy to be seen as an intellectual economic rationalist, Tony Abbott himself summed up the dilemma:

July 27, 2009:

The fact that people don’t really understand what an emissions trading scheme entails is actually its key political benefit. Unlike a tax, which people would instinctively question, it’s easy to accept a trading scheme supported by businesses that see it as a money-making opportunity and environmentalists who assure people that it will help to save the planet. Forget the contested science and the dubious economics, an emissions trading scheme is brilliant, if hardly-honest politics because people have come to think that it’s a cost-less way to avoid climate catastrophe.

If Australia is greatly to reduce its carbon emissions, the price of carbon intensive products should rise. The Coalition has always been instinctively cautious about new or increased taxes. That’s one of the reasons why the former government opted for an emissions trading scheme over a straight-forward carbon tax. Still, a new tax would be the intelligent skeptic’s way to deal with minimising emissions because it would be much easier than a property right to reduce or to abolish should the justification for it change.

The point of these quotes is that the Coalition policy against carbon pricing in general, or the carbon tax in particular is not as set in stone as many think, despite Abbott's claims that he never supported an emissions trading scheme or a tax. For Labor, this argument is a little easier to make, but still needs to be made. The contrast between the clear economic arguments in favour of a tax and the difficult political reality it faces is the ultimate reason why our path to a carbon tax was so messy, yet far more likely that it appeared. It is also the reason why continued direct personal pressure on your local representatives and candidates is so necessary if we are to keep the tax. Ultimately, politicians have no choice but to bow to public pressure. If we are to keep the tax, we also need to keep the public debate going and progress it as far as possible prior to the upcoming federal election. With the public finally focussed on the economics of climate change rather than the science, there has never been a better opportunity to get the message out that a carbon tax is the cheapest, simplest and most flexible way to reduce emissions.

Read more about the economic arguments in favour of a carbon tax here.

Discuss.

The state government has released a discussion paper on electoral reform and has invited feedback. Submissions close March 1, 2013. The release of the discussion paper prompted much media interest prior to Christmas, with claims that they would abolish preferential voting.

Click here for a copy of my submission, as well as links to further information. Please make your own submission also.

There are no forms to fill out, however the discussion paper prompts for feedback on many particular issues and suggests options. This can serve as a guide for feedback. Section B7 covers compulsory voting. Section B8 covers optional preferential voting, which is currently used in Queensland. Under this system, it is compulsory to vote, but not to rank all candidates. Section B9 calls for feedback on other matters. I encourage people to submit a response that supports compulsory voting, opposes optional preferential voting in favour of full preferential voting, and proposes that Queensland adopt a 20 member Senate based on voting by delegable proxy. The complete response provided can be used as a guide and you are welcome to copy and modify it as you wish for your own submission. Please also pass this information on to other people you think will be interested.

Click here for more information on voting by delegable proxy.

Click here for a copy of the discussion paper.

Click here for more information on the problems associated with optional preferential voting.

Some discussions on our forum:

Campbell Newman to scrap compulsory voting in QLD

Voting by delegable proxy

Electoral reform in Queensland

Coalition marine park review released

We finally have an answer to questions raised earlier regarding the intention of the NSW state coalition for marine parks in the state. Prior to the NSW state election, the coalition courted the anti-marine park movement with a curious form of dog whistle politics. They had previously promised to abolish two marine parks if elected. This time they promised a review, which was enough to get the anti marine park movement on the coalition bandwagon. One can only assume that this gained more votes for the coalition than it lost, as they won the election and rewarded the supporters with a review of marine parks. They even stacked the review committee with scientists preferred by the anti marine park movement and controlled what scientific evidence the committee was allowed to consider.

The review is now done. Like all good committees, their first finding was that there should be a committee to carry on doing their job. Their main finding regarding marine parks is that there should be more of them.

Hooray.

The NSW coalition would like to thank the anti marine park movement for making this possible. Despite these sorts of outcomes, the relationship between the coalition and the anti marine park movement has been a long and fruitful one. After the federal coalition established the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, The Fishing Party started a campaign against the park and against marine parks in general. They went into the next federal election with a scare campaign claiming that coastal recreational fishing would be banned outside of the south east corner of Queensland. They gained roughly half a per cent of QLD senate votes. Due to preference distributions, these votes went back to the coalition, helping to deliver them and extra senator in QLD and control of both houses of parliament. The Fishing party did not blink, as it was obviously the fault of the Democrats. They have since abandoned such subtle methods and instead posted banners on the Fishing Party website begging supporters to vote for the coalition and put Labor/Greens last.

Other recommendations by the audit committee include that someone should tell them what marine parks are for and that scientific research be expanded beyond merely monitoring fish stocks in a reactive sense to assessing the sustainability and resilience of our fisheries. Discuss.

Compulsory-optional preferential voting

Q: Why has Labor stopped trying to introduce compulsory-optional preferential voting in more states?

A: Because it no longer gives them an unfair advantage over the coalition.

Another carbon tax campaign

First up, a big thank you to everyone who wrote to their local MP back in December 2010 when I put the word out (see below). At the time, the Labor party had signalled upcoming changes to their climate change strategy with a ‘review’.

Now that we have a temporary carbon tax written into law, it is time to send another email or letter to make it permanent. This needs to be done well before the next federal election, while the parties are still mulling over their strategy and before MPs go into ‘parrot mode’. Please make the following requests:

  • that the carbon tax be made permanent rather than replacing it with a cap and trade system in 2015;
  • that the carbon tax be applied to retail petrol sales.

Find your electorate here and follow the links for contact information:

http://apps.aec.gov.au/esearch/

Find your local representative in federal parliament here:

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/mi-alpha.asp

Please contact your senators also:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/ senators/homepages/index.asp

Green tax shift:

http://www.ozpolitic.com/green-tax-shift/green-tax-shift.html

Note that your correspondence will be ignored if it does not include your name and address.

Remember to contact Liberal and Greens candidates as well as the Labor candidates, especially if you are in a marginal seat. Although the Liberal party is currently opposed to both a tax and a trading scheme, there are powerful groups within the party lobbying for change. I suspect that going into (or coming out of) the next federal election, the Liberal party will have the more rational approach of supporting the carbon tax, while Labor and the Greens may stick with their policy of switching to a cap and trade scheme. We may end up in a situation of having the best policy, despite none of our parties actually wanting it, thus allowing them all to blame each other (in the short term at least – they will all want to take credit once the public accepts the tax).

Excluding one sector of the economy (eg retail petrol sales) undermines the effectiveness of the carbon tax, which relies on encouraging emissions reductions where it is cheapest. We miss cheap and easy opportunities to reduce petrol consumption while relying on more expensive options in other sectors to reach our emissions reduction targets.

Switching to a cap and trade scheme will introduce great uncertainty for individuals and businesses considering investing in emissions reduction. So far the trend overseas has been for emissions reductions to be far easier than expected, causing the price under cap and trade schemes to fall, thus eliminating the incentive for any further reductions. The uncertainty introduced will favour short term ‘quick fixes’ over well considered long term changes.

A cap and trade scheme will eliminate opportunities to reduce the GST, income tax and other unnecessary taxes using the revenue raised by the carbon tax. Furthermore, a cap and trade scheme creates a huge economic liability for our society, as the government will be forced to buy back permits at inflated prices (as has happened with commercial fishing licences for example).

Share your opinion on our forum.

Coalition climate change policy

Find out what Greg Hunt and Tony Abbott have been up to.

Should Australia become a republic?

What about being a democracy?

NSW coalition to destroy marine parks, or make more?

UPDATE: The NSW coalition has released a recreational fishing policy in response to questions about their stance on marine parks. They have reversed their position on the Batemans and Port Stephens marine parks. They no longer plan to abolish these. Beyond that, the policy contains little detail on marine parks, just vague criticism of the Labor party's marine park policy and empty rhetoric. It leaves all options open to the party, from 'no more marine parks' to 'lock up the entire coastline' (and this is without allowing for more backflips). The anti marine park lobby is however claiming it as a victory, and there is no doubt that is pushes all the right buttons for them. With a victory looking likely for the coalition, it will be interesting to see what their policy really means. What do you think?


In the runup to the 2007 NSW state election, national party candidates promised to abolish the Port Stephens and Batemans marine parks. No such promises are being made this election, and the party did not respond to enquiries about these two marine parks. Perhaps the chance of victory has lead them to reign in their more 'colourful' candidates.

The NSW state coalition has however garnered the full support of the anti marine park lobby for this election, who are telling anyone who will listen that they will ban more marine parks. What the coalition has actually promised is of course somewhat different:

Also in the policy was more detail of the plan to put marine parks on hold.

Four advisory panels would be set up to advise on the areas under assessment, in consultation with the community and industry, who would have access to peer-reviewed scientific evidence of threats to marine biodiversity.

The panels would develop socio-economic impact statements for each area, as well as a "displacement policy".

"As a last resort, if such consultation and negotiation does not reduce impacts below levels that are reasonably compensable, then compensation, structural adjustment or other appropriate measures will be delivered before any constraints on fishing are implemented," the policy statement says.

The coalition appears to be appealing to both camps here, though they have obviously found a more receptive audience in the anti marine park lobby. No doubt the promises to abolish marine parks at the last election is contributing to this, even though not a word is being said about it now. The fishing party and the various lobbies opposed to marine parks must be getting so desperate for validation that they gloat over any crumbs the major parties will feed them. They even hold up some recently created marine parks in Tasmania as evidence of the coalition's pro recreational fishing stance, because they are so far offshore that they don't bother most recreational fishermen. Of course, these parks were established by the federal coalition government in federal waters and were never going to be close to shore anyway. One case where the federal coalition did upset recreational fishermen with marine parks is the Great Barrier Reef, which is largely credited with the rise of the fishing party from micro party to minor party.

It is unusual to see self proclaimed sceptics proclaiming a 'promise' like this one from a politician as some kind of victory, especially from the party that gave them the Great Barrier Reef marine parks. One answer might come from the handouts that were promised. In a policy that promised compensation as a last resort, $15 million in grants were promised. Of this, only about $1 million goes to recreational fishermen to set up a 'representative body'. There are no doubt several leaders of the anti marine park lobby already lined up to be on the board of this peak body and finally get the recognition they deserve. Who says you can't buy votes? Several other such representative bodies have fallen over lately because funding was not continued, or because people realised they do not actually represent most fishermen, or because the government simply stopped paying attention to what they said.

The coalition has not promised to make their consultation process better or even different to that of labor, as this would involve acknowledging that there are no substantive differences in the policy so far. They have promised only to do the same sort of assessment again. Given the lengthy time frames involved in setting up marine parks (due to the now well established consultation processes), the inability of the coalition to rule out more marine parks in the span of a single term leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

I think it is time for both sides of the marine park debate to demand real answers from the coalition.

Read about the fishing party's senate preferences and their unusual relationship with the coalition over the last few elections here.

Carbon Tax Back on the Agenda

After abandoning the ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’, the federal government is now reconsidering its approach to climate change. The current review is not about the science, nor is it about emissions reduction targets. Rather, it is about the mechanism used to achieve those reductions (ie, should we use a carbon tax, an emissions trading scheme, plant some trees, or start a drum circle?). This is probably our last opportunity to get it right. Hopefully the government has realised that going down the emissions trading path was a mistake. On the plus side, both politicians and the media are far more willing to use the T word (tax), though they tend to use it interchangeably with an emissions trading scheme. On the down side, Labor may have painted itself into a corner by responding to emails about the issue with an attack on carbon taxes. The criticism was nonsensical at best and obviously motivated by purely political factors (ie the failure of the CPRS, which was a watered down trading scheme, and the introduction by the Greens of a bill to set up a simple tax on emissions). Let’s hope for a backflip.

Please contact your local representative in federal parliament and ask them to consider a revenue neutral emissions tax. This means the revenue raised is used to lower other taxes, such as the GST or income tax. This is the most economically rational approach and is backed by Marius Kloppers, CEO of BHP, and most economists. For any given reduction target, this will have the least impact on the economy and may even benefit us.

Find your electorate here and follow the links for contact information:

http://apps.aec.gov.au/esearch/

Find your local representative in federal parliament here:

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/mi-alpha.asp

Please contact your senators also:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/ senators/homepages/index.asp

Discuss – a carbon tax is better than cap and trade:

http://www.ozpolitic.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1291422780

Green tax shift:

http://www.ozpolitic.com/green-tax-shift/green-tax-shift.html

Tony Abbott has been busy destroying the coalition's reputation for sound economic management, with his 'carrots grow on trees' response to Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Meanwhile, Christine Milne has been busy destroying the Greens' reputation for being a bunch of deluded hippies. Out of the three proposals, hers is by far the best from an economic perspective. It is not the Greens' official policy on climate change. Rather, it is Ross Garnaut's recommendation for an interim flat tax on carbon. Hopefully it gains a bit of momentum, given the low probability of Rudd getting his absurdly convoluted scheme off the ground.

Find out why carbon taxes are the better option

Discuss Christine Milne's proposal

Discuss Tony Abbott's proposal

Discuss Rudd's CPRS

Is Garnaut a rubber stamp?

Meanwhile, the QLD government has not only forced us into an unnecessary and expensive water supply solution (while still giving water away for almost nothing), they have gone one step further and signed us onto a contract that forces us to run desalination plants when they are not needed, consuming vast quantities of electricity that results in more pollution, while our dams are overflowing.

Desal plant should only be used when dams fall below 15pc, says academic

Green Tax Shift
Green Tax Shift
save the economy and the environment

Glossy Nightshade
Garden produce
free, easy, sustainable, OzPolitic is promoting food from your backyard, street or local park

Electoral reform
Electoral reform
transcending the old technological tradeoffs, why America needs to catch up

Marine Parks - the ideal fisheries management tool
Marine Parks
the ideal fisheries management tool

Evolution is not a scientific theory
Evolution is not a scientific theory
a new philosophical perspective for an old debate

Sustainability Party
Sustainability Party of Australia
putting our ideas into action!

Some new articles:

Coalition climate change policy Should Australia become a republic? Embarrassing ourselves internationally (whaling)
Sorry
Is carbon trading a market mechanism?
Anorexia or obesity?
Climate change - for the sceptics
Marine park examples
Environment, society, economy
Optional preferential voting
Voting above the line? Read this
Compulsory unionism

Established in November 2006, OzPolitic is Australia's newest and only fully functional politics website. Stop by our forum, where guests are welcome to have a say or start a new topic, even if you aren't a local. Sign up for an account to use extra features like personal messaging, so you don't have to hand out an email address. We are setting up polls with added features like ranked choice voting systems. Until very recently these features were not available in online polls and we hope that this breakthrough will assist in familiarising people with electoral reform issues from around the world. We offer custom home pages and free email addresses (yourname@ozpolitic.com), which come with a fully customisable page of news feeds, weather, maps, horoscopes, sudoku, sticky notes, a calendar and many other features. Unlike many web based email accounts, these allow you to set up automatic forwarding and to send email so it appears to have come from your other accounts. Email discussions can be displayed in a 'thread view,' similar to online forums, so you can keep track of long discussions.

Remember, OzPolitic is more than bells and whistles. We are a community and we value your contributions. The articles you see here are from a number of sources and while they obviously represent the strong political views of the authors, they are all open for discussion and all views are welcome at our forum. The only thing we have in common is an interest in challenging, meaningful debate and sharing our views.

Please help spread the word about OzPolitic by letting your friends know we are here, or anyone you think might be interested. If you are really impressed, please consider supporting us.

What's new:

I have updated the article on the role of Christianity in the foundations of early science with a list of famous scientists and their religious beliefs.

I have created a new section (on the list to the left) for the sustainability party, and added articles about kangaroos and whaling. The whaling article has been updated with two new sections.

I have added some maps showing examples of marine parks as a fisheries management tool.

I have added a comparison table of major party policies for the Sustainability Party of Australia.

Having trouble finding an old thread on the forum? Try here.

Jon Nevill has kindly supplied an article on Destructive Fishing Practices.

Check out the upgraded news feed page. I have also added instructions for displaying RSS feeds on a website here.

I have written an article on marine parks as a fisheries management tool.

I am in the process of updating the gardening section with photos, new articles (Basil, Coriander, Parsley, Fennel, Trees, Bunya Pine, Inga (Ice Cream) Bean, Macadamia, Papaya, Banana), and extra content in the old articles.

I have added a Frequently Asked Questions page to the green tax shift articles.

Interesting articles:

Funny stuff


Find out about a green tax shift as a solution to global warming, local and global electoral reform issues, sustainability through gardening, the Australian People's Party and why evolution should not be taught in high school science classes. See the links in the left hand pane.



Now that our government has at least acknowledged the reality of global warming, it is time to start considering our options for how to alleviate it. When it comes to government policies, economists have a lot to offer. You would be surprised at how good the news is:

Green Tax Shift



Electoral reform

Sustainability through gardening

Evolution is not a scientific theory

Australian Peoples Party

All articles

Coming soon:

  • Global warming - for the sceptics
  • Marine Park suggestions for Noosa and Newcastle
  • Wildlife = food
  • Ethics and progressive movements
  • The nuclear option


There is a tendency among activists to focus on what are ultimately symptoms of society's problems, while ignoring the underlying causes and solutions. We are committed to promoting meaningful, effective change for the betterment of society.

Check out our new forum or open it in a new window

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