Monday 30 May 2022

Anthony Albanese: Conflict Fatigue? Collaboration? Consensus?

(source info up to 20:00 Monday 30th)

Ten days since the federal elections, the precise composition of the 47th Parliament is not yet certain: too close to call, two seats remain in doubt.

However, the Australian Labor Party did form a majority government after securing 76 seats in the 151-seat House of Representatives. Last week its federal Leader, Anthony Albanese, was sworn as Prime Minister.

The COALition suffered a devastating defeat: 17 seats lost, as far as I can tell, all of them Liberal Party of Australia so-called “moderates”: Josh Fraudenberg, Jason Falinsky and Tim Wilson, more prominently. The combined Liberal/National lower house fraction shrank to 57.

The Australian Greens gained three new seats. Six teal independents (all of them more ambitious than Labor on climate change) plus a former Liberal non-teal allegedly independent joined the three already seating independents.

Thursday 19 May 2022

The Left in These Elections (Updated).


Well, as far as the politicians are concerned the die was cast. Election day is tomorrow.

As regular readers may be aware, I don’t have much faith in the much vaunted “liberal democracy”. Still and all, that’s what we have. So, it’s up to us, the people to make the best decision possible given what’s available. We better not screw it.

So what’s available to readers of a Left-wing persuasion who are also concerned with climate change? In a way, the choice is simple.

Sunday 15 May 2022

Is Labor’s Climate Change Plan Guided by Science?

Just as I was finishing the previous post, federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese fronted a presser from Fitzroy Island (Friday 13th). In a major break with what we had observed during this campaign, he announced a number of measures supposedly meant to deal with climate change, plus a $220 million program to save endangered native species.

The main announcement, however, was a “Reef 2050 Plan” to save the Great Barrier Reef, by means of improving water quality and eradicating crown-of-thorns starfish.

That’s all good and well. As things are, the Great Barrier Reef is already in serious danger.

90%+ of reefs surveyed affected by coral bleaching in 2022. Source.

However, Labor’s adoption of Minister for Environment Sussan Ley’s habit of lobbying before UNESCO to keep the GBR heritage status, in spite of scientific considerations is troublesome. Sorry, Albo, no amount of lobbying will fix what we see in that map.

Friday 13 May 2022

Climate Change: Who Promises What?

In this election campaign the COALition has set the debating agenda. And they have done their best to bury climate change.

Permanently on the defensive, the Australian Labor Party has done little to change that. An attempt by Labor’s Penny Wong (considering climate change implications to Australia and our Pacific neighbours’ national securities) was rather embarrassing (not because she wasn’t right on her criticism to the COALitiion, but because after her criticism an eventual Labor government had little more to offer). You really should see “Postcards from the frontlines of climate change”, by the ABC’s Asia Pacific Newsroom.

This may have been a blessing in disguise. Scientists have more relevant things to say.

Wednesday 11 May 2022


The Tailor of Folk Suits. [A]

Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything. A country’s ability to improve its standard of living over time depends almost entirely on its ability to raise its output per worker. – Paul Krugman.
It’s an election campaign and pollies are not debating productivity. Imagine that.

Well, they aren’t debating many things. For example, last year, by this time, all the talk was COVID. Today? Not a peep. More importantly, climate change is at best an afterthought.
But it’s productivity that the economically-minded Very Serious People, like Laura Tingle, have in mind as the most important thing ever:
The good news is that growth and employment are strong. The bad news is inflation and interest rates are rising and are going to keep rising and wages are only just starting to pick up. That brings us back to one of those issues we just aren’t talking about in this election.
Which is? Cut to Danielle Wood, CEO of the Grattan Institute:
If we’re serious about getting real wages growth for the longer term, we really need to be talking about productivity and that is actually something that’s been missing from this election campaign.

Sunday 8 May 2022

VE Day: Germanophobia.

Marshal Zhukov reading the German Instrument of Surrender
in Berlin, Germany on March 8, 1945. Also seen Arthur
Tedder, Marshal of the Royal Air Force. [A]

As a late baby-boomer, I grew up among people who experienced WWII first hand. We were their children.

My youth’s old-timers carried with them bad, bad memories. Rancour towards Germans wasn’t unusual, even among those who were never directly affected. It wasn’t unusual either, for us kids to hear from our elders that “the only good German is a dead German”.

Forgiveness, I guess, was a lot easier for us, kids.

Back then that rancour had always, invariably, angered me. No matter how many bad guys, or how bad they were – I would reply – there were good Germans too, surely? Blanket condemnations are inherently unjust. Those good Germans deserved not only to be spared but acknowledged.

Thursday 5 May 2022

#ClimateStrike May 6 – Sydney.

The SS4C kids are calling a strike this Friday 6. In Sydney strikers and supporters will meet at Town Hall at 12:00.

These are their demands:

  1. Net zero by 2030 which means no new coal, oil or gas projects.
  2. 100% renewable energy generation and exports by 2030.
  3. Fund a just transition and job creation for all fossil fuel workers and their communities.

Their website offers more info. You can also donate.

This strike, in particular, could be crucial, because the elections are two weeks away (the strike is COVID-safe: bring face mask/hand sanitiser and stay at home if unwell).


Monday 2 May 2022

May Day, May Day! Wages Down! Wages Down!


In the last 23 years nominal wages growth in Australia peaked in the second half of 2008 (4.3%). Since then, with partial and short-lived recoveries, the general tendency has been to a fall. We seem to be in the midst of one such recovery: from a low of 1.4% in the second half of 2020 to 2.3% by the end of 2021. When will this recovery, very partial as it is, stop or how much ground will it regain remains to be seen.

Although not ideal, in the low-inflation environment prevalent in Australia for much of the time since September 2013 (when the incumbent COALition took power), federal policy-makers found little political pressure to lift wages: wage-earners may not have felt financially buoyant, but on average they could keep pace with the cost of living.