Friday 14th of June 2024

a business tack...

business to the rescue

From the First Post

Richard Branson suggests business may have to ‘go it alone’ without political deal

By Edward Helmore

The failure of world leaders in Copenhagen to reach meaningful agreement on carbon emissions is not merely disappointing to climate activists: business leaders say the political failure to set reduction targets leaves them without enough certainty to justify the massive investments needed to begin to move toward low-emissions economies.
The political order is widely felt to have substantially let down business leaders. Yesterday, Yvo de Boer, chief UN climate change official, said he expects to see "growing demands on the part of business to see this accord turned into something that is legally binding".

Peter Voser, chief executive of Dutch Shell, said more was needed. "It remains unclear how this political willingness will translate intoconcrete steps." Wulf Bernotat, chief executive of the European energy group Eon, warned cuts would "depend on further progress" in the UN talks. Bankers say Copenhagen's failure is likely to undermine confidence in the market for carbon credits.

US business leaders, too, say tougher clean energy standards and a price floor for oil and gas supplies would help raise green-tech investment and force companies to invest in less-polluting equipment. By some estimates, the private sector will need to provide 90 per cent of the $500bn-a-year investment needed to keep global warming at or below two degrees.

But with individual countries now supposed to fill in details of planned cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that the Copenhagen accords failed to establish, disappointment at the outcome has led some business leaders to conclude that business cannot wait for politicians to act.


If sir Richard can pull it off, his name would etched in the history books with gold lettering...

But before that he would have to lead some of the way — that is to say abandon his quest for space, find planes that work with lastic bands, and drive a bicycle to his unheated mansions...

But he and other decent business men/women still could manage to get some useful progressive reduction of emissions from business, nonetheless... Go Richard go...

Banks won't mind... anything that moves and they take their cuts too — in cash.

obsolete politicians...

From the First Post

With the failure of Copenhagen apparent, there is a growing feeling that expecting politicians to act beyond short-term political self-interest is itself poor thinking. Lester Brown, president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, says our politicians are simply not up to the task. "They are obsolete. They take too long to negotiate and ratify. In this case, the game may be over by then."

But while Obama and other political leaders brace themselves for the fall-out for coming home empty-handed, some businesses say the elevation of the global warming issue in Copenhagen to a global imperative is still of some benefit.


see toon at top...

Can we now understand the sense of the Rudd ETS.

It is true that the entire legislation would be certainly beyond me even if I had a copy - somewhere and sometime we have to have some faith in the government that the entire country elected…the House of Representatives. True democracy - if such a thing exists?

On the other hand, we have a group who are elected by their state; to represent their state; and to ensure that their state doesn't get a bad deal from the bigger states - otherwise why do all states have the same number of Senators regardless of population? 

But, what happens is that the state Senators are invariably committed as the "Mad Monk" demanded, to the party who cultivated their election - not to the people they are sworn to represent.

IF, and it is a big IF, the entire Senate was made up of popular statewide independents then perhaps it would work but, in even the best of circumstances, it would pit state against state instead of the present situation where it is party against party.

For example, is it acceptable that Barnaby Joyce agrees with everything he promised he wouldn't and comes from a state with a labor Premier and has produced a Labor Prime Minister?  Seems counter-productive to me.

Personally I believe that the Senators should be forced to explain their votes on the sole basis of the pros and cons for their state - not the entire nation.  Then perhaps the people will elect those who really speak for them and not those (all of them) who have worked tirelessly to exploit the Senate power and its costly and party-orientated flaws.

As an example, Barnaby would have been forced to explain why he did not honor his pledge to the Queensland people that he would oppose the sale of Telstra – or his WorkChoices support – or his vote not to be accountable.

Let's not forget the lengthy and stupid voting forms which certainly push us towards a Party and not an individual.

God bless Australia.  NE OUBLIE.




happy x-mas Ernest .....

Hi Ernest,

I agree with your comments about the ETS legislation & suspect that they are probably true for most of our elected representatives & most commentators.

Sadly though, I can't agree with your observations that we should 'have faith' in the government 'that the entire country elected'.

Putting aside the fact that the current government probably didn't 'win' office but rather, as seems to be the case most of the time in this country, the previous government 'lost' it, I'm heartily disillusioned with Ruddism & can see little difference in substance between him & his awful predecessor.

It's interesting to note the number of celebratory 'feel good' articles about the alleged wonders of Australia's democracy that seem to be doing the rounds at the moment. Do you really feel blessed by the quality of governments we have in this country - regardless of their political persuasion? Do you really think that there is a difference between Labour, Liberal or Country Party .... I certainly don't. In my view, they are all busy pursuing the narrow sectional interests of those who have bought & paid for them & none of them act in the best interests of this country; let alone you & me.

I don't care what the issue is: foreign policy; defence; health; industrial relations; education; security; civil liberties; taxation .... I haven't seen a scintilla of difference since Rudd & his team were elected.

Which brings me to my main thesis Ernest: the main reason why I think our so-called 'democracy' is just an expensive charade.

If you go back & review the Australian landscape at the time of federation & the creation of our constitution, you will see that our forefathers, wisely or wrongly, anticipated that the electors in each federal electorate would elect a representative from among them, whose only responsibility would be to represent the interests of that electorate on matters coming before the federal parliament: in other words, the elected representatives were expected to be accountable to their electorates & no-one-else.

Enter the political parties & everything is turned on its head. The 'elected' representatives (the dills we are expected to be proud to vote for) are selected by the political parties & we are offered a 'choice' between what's on offer (except where an Independent might be running loose). But the key difference is that the so-called 'elected representative' doesn't represent you or me, or anyone-else who might have wasted their time casting a vote for them, but rather the political party that pre-selected them. They are no longer accountable to the voters but to the party machine, which is only accountable to those who control it & determine what price to attach to government policy.   

Our political system is nothing short of legalised organised crime: a market where business & other sectional interests can go & purchase government largesse, funded by you & me. To make this enterprise even more exquisite, its daily operations are also funded by you & me. It doesn't actually matter which party holds the majority in the House of Representatives - the business of the enterprise doesn't change. This is the reality that has delivered Copenhagen; this is the reality that has given us the Murray Darling; this is the reality that will deliver the Franklin Dam & ultimately see the destruction of the Barrier Reef. This is the reality that sees more & more coal dug up from the ground, that both pollutes our environment & the rest of the planet .... & this is just the environment. I can't think of anything that I would agree with Tony Abbott about but he comes close when he says that the ETS is a new form of taxation .... I actually think it is just the federal government's way of working out the cost of licenses to pollute ie: the market in action.

I don't believe that we will ever have anything approaching a 'democracy' in this country until political parties are outlawed & until we return to a system of federalism as envisaged by those who wrote our constitution.

I won't bore you any further Ernest but maybe next time I'll talk about the need to abolish the states & the benefits that might flow to all of us through that.

In the meantime, Annie & I wish you & your family fall the Very Best for the Season & 2010.



Could I love someone who loves cats?

Could I love someone who loves cats?

Dear John and Ernest

The big questions of democracy reside in this simple question.

We are all at the mercy of having to compromise. We're all at the beckoning of infestation from too many "cats" should we "fall in love" with the cat-lady. Our precious time, if we deem it so precious, becomes dedicated to cleaning, feeding animals whose main reason of existence is to bludge aloofly from us and then go and kill wildlife at night — or during the day — when we're sure they are "locked up inside"... Global warming is such a beast...

And the same goes with politicians. And our democracy. Since my childhood, when culture, religion and politics were in the same black pot, I often thought that democracy defeated itself. Still do... But the feudal system was not an option, although most of our democracies still have feudal modes within their structure. It's based on who can be top dog, whether by merit or by corruption, in any system of government, either communist or neo-conservative and all the shades in between. Arnachy? We'd need to have guns or rules...

What matters for most for us is that we can live individual lives free from pain, free from oppression and in general relative freedom. Through a certain continuum, our societies have brought us these comforts and given us  "hope" of various values. More money, more heaven-in-after-life, more instant noodles... These comforts and hopes are staged managed by groups of various creed, various financial and political "persuasions". The multiplicity of purposes is quite large — from pure individual selfishness to shared "values" in communistic "interests".

And our democratic system is so built that the 50-per-cent-plus-one lot takes control and can do as it pleases with the loot. More often than not, the information channels — from education to private and public media — will be designed to give a flavour of augustness or push another barrow until whomever they support gets the gong.

Meanwhile below our democratic system, rule various mobs, all with the inertia of dead donkeys, those who control the public service and those who run the private enterprise... They are the feudal systems designed for profit, and the feudal systems of planning the future according to the rules of the past, and decide who should "benefit' while smoothing the corners with some "universality" illusion.

Sometimes the entire society could benefit, but one well-placed clever monkey would also benefit more than all of us combined, so we compromise a project and nobody is happy. Sometimes by shove or by sheer luck, we achieve something that tends to please most, yet the legends and the bickering about the process carry on way beyond what they should — usually through our guilt of having done something wrong along the way to achieve something right.

And amongst our democracies, we are flush with beliefs-in-whatever that tend to guide our moral values — beliefs that have nothing to do with the reality of the planet but beliefs that strongly influence our view of it.  The flavour of the month is "flat-earth-ish with a dash of god's kingdom"... The separation of church and state is paramount but, slowly, we can see old practices creep in and new godly ones trying to influence our lives — not just on the spiritual level but down to mundane experiences, as someone wants to build a minaret next door. And having lived for a while in a predominantly muslim country, being woken up daily before dawn by the chanting mullah atop his turret is no fun. And the limit on my intake of spirit (liquid sort) was no fun either.

So we have to compromise... And the hard part is to do it without destroying ourselves... as a group and individually. So, can we love the cat-lady when we hate cats?... And is our hatred of cats scientifically well-founded or is it because we got nearly scratched by a jealous Tom, when we were a toddler?. This has been the "Shakespearian-explained psychological torture since the time a government of sort was formed... So be a king who killed with kindness all the other gnarling psychopath, so he could rule over the mob with a psychopathic kindness... Thus grew the need to keep most of the populace in the dark by a king who justified his deed by association with god — and the fear of it — and made sure the thieves, he gained power with the help of, are recompensed by being given tracts of land that do not belong to the king either. The peasant class can toil for the lords. Robbery created the kingdom and its glory, Information manipulation maintained the structure while giving fear and illusion of freedom when death came at last. Nothing has changed much, except we can from time to time kick one ruling mob out and place a new one in charge of the merry-go-round. And the word on the street is that "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence."

So far this is the best system of governance we have devised to protect us from other humans who have their eyes set on our patch of grass because it's greener than theirs...

Somewhere, lurking in the shadows or in the open view, there is also someone who wants to sell us something. The structure of our comforts is based on having something to sell in return, be it our work, services or goods we manufacture. But when other people stop buying what we have — even if it's good quality and we're even prepared to lower the "price" to a bare minimum — we're in trouble. This can happen on an individual level or at an entire society level... We become indebted to survive... We are at the mercy of others despite rules and regulations controlling this harsh relationship.

Then came global warming...

The Rudd/Howard ETS is only a fudge. But to me it's a fudge that sets a precedent insofar as to fully (relatively strongly) acknowledge we have a problem... That we can mitigate global warming by 20-sumpthin' with an ETS designed to reduce emissions by 5 per cent on those of 20-sumpthin' is slightly irrelevant... This ETS, as designed by compromise with Malcolm, is basically a decree that forces some enterprises to buy the right to emit CO2, making their goods more expensive to us, the consumer, so we start reducing our intake of emission-rich goods such as power... It's complex and tries to pamper too many interests, from miners to farmers, to tree-fellers so that they can still make a buck in the process of selling and buying...

Tony Abbott can laugh his head off because he knows the ETS has been diluted so much by having to compromise with Malcolm that the ETS is now an illusion of doing sumpthin".

So to my little brain, it would have been far more productive for the Greens to approve reluctantly the ETS as it was before the fiddle with Malcolm, rather than wait for Abbott to usurp the gig and dismiss anything that smells of doing sumpthin' to arrest global warming which, in his own little mind, does not exist... After ten years of doing nothing, we have another ten years of doing less of it.

One has to see that whatever the Rudd government has tried to "make a change" with — whether a real improvement of a bean-counting gymnastic — the senate, still controlled by a few mobs and silly "independents" of "oppositories" (opposition in the shape of suppositories), has made it difficult for any change. The dinosaurs are still ruling the planet while the planet is changing.

But strangely and sadly enough, the right-wing dinosaurs of our time may survive better than the rest of us — us who are trying to be kind and do something to save all. Yes the dinosaurs will survive — they will survive by sheer selfishness, under the umbrella of god or state (the Chinese) in a sea of deliberate ignorance, by rudely elbowing their way to the liferafts.

We have to keep fighting them no matter what.

Could I love someone who loves cats? The answer for most could be "what's in it for me?..."
But one of the answers could be how many cat(s) could I cope with? Is one too many? could I cope with one cat should I have a dog? Another answer is "no".

In regard to global warming we have passed the point of no return in 1996. We can't afford to have more cats. End of story.

At this level I am surprised (whom am I kidding) that agreements had not been pre-arranged between China and the USA and/or with India... But in this landscape, comes the level of indebtedness in the trade/containment cajolement polices... And can we trade our present comforts for a reduction of these comforts in the face of global warming by 2100?...

Haven't we been told to "carpe diem' — seize the day?
In Copenhagen, we've "carpe diem" as if there was no tomorrow...

We have to keep fighting this no matter what.

Happy New Year to all. Peace.

Churchill said "democracy is better than all the rest".

G'day John,

As I have written before, I do not believe that one country in this entire world would pass any genuine and stringent test of true democracy.  It is indeed a marketing ploy is it not?

With a less educated past and merely the concentration on reason; logic and just plain thinking, perhaps I can come up with a reasonable thesis on some of the conundrums that bother us all. A KISS principle is sometimes easier for me to understand.

I do agree with your comments John viz:  I don't care what the issue is: foreign policy; defence; health; industrial relations; education; security; civil liberties; taxation....but I don't agree with your statement that "I haven't seen a scintilla of difference since Rudd & his team were elected."

IMHO last line is a little to oblique for me John.  To me Rudd inherited a massive absence of futuristic policies by the Howard "New Order" - who merely compounded and bloated the wasteful practices “selling the farm” of Ming the Merciless - and for the same Corporation benefits.  $700 billion foreign debt – but who mentions that?

I also believe that the Rudd/Gillard government has in its numbers, very credible, dedicated ministers who are making a hell of a difference to the entire nation in the Stimulus, to soften the hurt; infra-structure; education; housing; fairness to working families; and creating as much consultation as possible between interested parties, in every instance, before committing to legislation.  They have changed the blatant favoritism of the Howard mob by embarrassing Liberal/Nationalists in parliament to admit that, while they (the coalition) voted against the government's infra-structure policy, they all turned up with smiles in their electorates when it was introduced. Even then the Rudd ministers were to see their best efforts for conciliation, if it was necessary, chipped away and even trashed by a hostile, State elected Senate.  Struth.

This is just one fact that the Corporation's government of the "New Order" has been ridiculing while they openly say [Abbott] that their job as the "alternative government" is to oppose everything that the government wants to do.  No?  Do we really accept the deception of a few of the embarrassed Liberal lower house reps who say, the Senate is a house of review?  That may have been the original intention but by any measure it certainly is not now.  In fact, it uses its ultimate power to place regulations upon the elected federal government, so that any act of parliament conforms to the Senate's demands on a national basis.  No democracy there.  Why not just have a Senate?

I have suggested that the Senate should function almost exactly as you quote in your post viz; "If you go back & review the Australian landscape at the time of federation & the reaction of our constitution, you will see that our forefathers, wisely or wrongly, anticipated that the electors in each federal electorate would elect a representative from among them, whose only responsibility [and obligation] would be to represent the interests of that electorate other words, the elected representatives were expected to be accountable to their electorates & no-one-else."  I couldn't agree more.  But how do we change things?

Shades of Athens and Rome John, but even there the "numbers game" was evident - even in the case of murder.  I believe that we in Australia at least have made a move away from a Corporation government, of the people and for the Corporations - and in so doing seem to be moving to the right?

I can only surmise what can be done John but, at least if the Senate was truly made up of State and Territory representatives of Australia, then they should be forced to vote according to what they say is the wishes of their electorate.  Then let them explain otherwise to their constituents.

Finally John, you have never bored me.  And may I say to you and your Annie, that Rosie and I wish you all the very best for Xmas and the new year.  And may you all have many more.

God Bless Australia.  NE OUBLIE.



The Journey of a Thousand Miles begins.....

G'day Gus,

As always you make many valid points and I couldn't argue with them even if I wanted to.  Your heart is in everything you write and I respect you for that.

But, your observations and opinions are sad in a way.  Sad because I think I can detect a feeling of frustration at the situation of what is casually called "just politics" - in the world today?  It certainly stinks doesn't it? Everything is politics and corruption - note all the Solicitors and Attorneys?

You and I argue in essence, that democracy is no longer, and may never have been, as  the "powers that be" would have us believe - i.e., a fair and majority rules type of government.  Sure, it sounds good if, say 21 states voted for a change and it was defeated by just one vote - that is portrayed as democracy.  Shades of Abbott and Turnbull or "silly willy" Fielding? Are there grounds for appeal when an obvious mistake has been made?

But Gus, what is better? Can we go back to the original establishment of democracy?  I am sure the Corporations would not permit that.  They have the money and therefore the power - and money is the root of all evil.

Generally speaking, I am of the opinion that the US secretly favors dictatorships because they only have to convince or pay off a lesser number of people and - if some do a "Saddam" and try to escape the shackles - then the Mossad or the CIA will fix that?  Much easier than the present policy of invading sovereign nations and sacrificing more and more of the US youth who have only war to keep them employed.  And still worshiping the flag and what it doesn't stand for.

As I recall now, I have previously suggested that the US has claimed on two separate occasions that Osama bin Laden was dead.  Not how he was killed - just dead.  Saddam was sacrificed and a clearly subservient but corrupt "government" was not so nicely elected - so much for democracy. 

So then the Taliban in Afghanistan became the number one evil of the world because.... - as such, that government of a people, with which they lived peacefully, was outlawed by the US on the basis that the people were not getting a fair go at US democracy.  Fair dinkum.

Now Iraq is unstable; the Taliban has moved into Pakistan and Afghanistan can only be occupied but never defeated because, as Russia noted, it is too expensive in lives and money to justify the pipeline required, this time by the US?

So, in my opinion, there is no true democracy but, like terrorism, it is used to hoodwink the gullible and in the case of the US and the Catholic Church, "remember your oath when you were too young to know what you were doing?"

The "inconvenient truth" today is that the nation who claims to be a democracy and against terrorism is really the biggest terrorist in the world and democracy is a smoke and mirrors behind that all demanding Flag [alongside the Catholic Cross].  Thou shall not worship idols?

Regardless Gus, my Wife and I wish you and yours a very merry Xmas period and a happy new year.

Keep on keeping on.

God Bless Australia.  NE OUBLIE.



the tandou business .....

from Crikey .....

Diving into water privatisation is a suicidal leap

Dr Ian Douglas, national co-ordinator of Fair Water Use (Australia), writes:


In discussing the endemic mismanagement of the Murray-Darling river system, a recent editorial in Australia's national daily concluded: "The only way to ensure water can be quarantined to keep rivers alive, while making the best use of whatever is left, is to leave it to the market."

This glib assertion must not pass unchallenged, as it appears to be a continuation of the well-orchestrated campaign promoting the privatisation-by-stealth of Australia's water. It is also at odds with the reality that the private entities, now manically investing in the nation's water resources, view the responsible management of water as secondary to their prime aims: unfettered infrastructure development and consumption-based profiteering.

Membership of their cartel is gained either by entering into murky public-private partnerships (PPPs) with state governments, integrally linked to the construction of desalination plants, pipelines, dams and water-bottling factories, promoted as high-tech "solutions to the water crisis" or by investing in water entitlements worth many millions of dollars and then luring desperate water users into lease-back arrangements, with little or no consideration of the use to which the water will be put.

Parties to the PPP arrangements are less keen to admit that these measures are untenably expensive, inefficient, environmentally damaging and, most importantly, unnecessary.

Communities on all continents bear deep scars as a result of the crusades of water privateers: a litany of corruption, including payment of bribes to government officials, litigation, social irresponsibility, environmental degradation -- and soaring water prices. There is no reason to believe that Australia is immune to such diseases: at least one of these seriously tainted multinationals, Veolia, is now a major player in Australia's water industry.

The upshot of these highly-questionable PPPs is that billions of dollars are being extracted from the public purse to conjure up relatively small amounts of "additional" water; monies debited to our account, despite the fact that, in most instances, these projects, destined to swallow our tax-dollars for years to come, were actively criticised in the electoral manifestos of the very administrations now responsible for their construction and promotion.

Governments also summarily dismissed the findings of the many independent reports that oppose these massive infrastructure developments; in some instances, reports that they themselves commissioned before the signing of contracts.

Now the same administrations, fighting for a semblance of credibility in the face of growing well-informed criticism, have circled the party wagons and resorted to the philosophy, "if you say something long enough and loud enough and often enough, the people will believe it".

As part of this mantra, water ministers incessantly declare that desalination plants provide vital insurance against water restrictions: statements justifiably condemned by proponents of responsible water use. Moreover, cursory investigation reveals their true insurance value as diaphanous at best.

Water to be delivered by Australia's multibillion dollar desalination plants comes at a price: up to five times that of conventional supplies -- and at significant cost to the environment. It will also constitute a tiny fraction of that provided from existing sources. It will, however, result in considerable profit for those involved in the construction and ongoing operation of the required infrastructure.

The combined annual output of the plants in NSW, Victoria and South Australia is projected to total a mere 340 billion litres; less than 3% of the total water consumed by these states in 2004-2005 (12,280 billion litres); and less than 75% of the volume (more than 460 billion litres) that erstwhile cotton plantation, Cubbie Station, was permitted to extract annually from the Murray-Darling river system to cultivate its water-intensive crop in semi-arid country -- an entitlement more or less donated to Cubbie by the Queensland government (It scarcely comes as a surprise that the chairman of Cubbie Group is a previous Treasurer of the Sunshine State).

The total price of the three water factories currently stands at about $7.8 billion, ignoring annual operational charges totalling many millions of dollars -- which will also be borne by consumers.

Water speculation is already the cause of frenetic activity in the private sector, with billions of litres of water entitlements being scooped up by groups set to derive significant returns from water trading. With ever-increasing frequency, agribusinesses are coming to the understanding that there may well more profit to be made from buying and selling water than from concentrating on their previous agrarian pursuits.

The most recent evidence of this trend is the purchase of more than 3 billion litres of "high-reliability" Murray water by Tandou Ltd, for the princely sum of $5.6 million; the company envisages increased involvement in the investment in and lease-back of water from the Murray-Darling river system.

In a privatised setting, secure water supplies are only guaranteed to those able to foot the bill, with the public and the environment historically bearing the brunt of any shortfall.

Independent water experts now largely agree that, in the drier future predicted for Australia, our water security can be readily assured without ceding control of supplies to the private sector. There are also persistent and increasingly loud calls for water to be protected as a public "good" rather than treated as a marketable commodity.

Australia's national water plan should be founded on this "water-commons" principle and an understanding of the fact that that globally only 10% of water used is required to be of potable quality. The massive wastage of high-quality water provided to industry and domestic bathrooms and laundries, which will only increase in a privatised, consumption-driven water future, should be an anathema to us all.

The once "alternative" approach to water management, accentuating storm-water sequestration, recycling and installation of rainwater tanks, in combination with the formation of a truly independent and appropriately empowered national body to manage our surface and groundwater resources, is now accepted by many as the most assured, cost-effective and transparent means of water management.

There is not a shred of doubt that, as part of the "demand and supply" philosophy of the privatised alternative, Australians will be constantly reminded of the need to respond to threats to our water security in the months and years to come. Governments and their PPP partners are already keen to denigrate any lack of community support for their "visionary" initiatives as being downright un-Australian: as exemplified by the increasing tendency for administrations to classify legal protests as criminal gatherings.

Government departments and their multinational partners now store images and files detailing those members of the community who, dismayed by the constant reneging on pre-election commitments and the lack of meaningful public consultation on matters of vital public interest, participate in legitimate protest.

Thankfully, electorates are rapidly becoming water wise and those who aspire to elected office ignore this fact at their peril.

In the current climate, environmental and electoral, whichever parliamentary candidates most clearly reflect the aspirations of 21st century Australians with respect to the protection and careful management of their water resources, being termed the "new oil" in the corridors of predatory investment companies, will derive tangible benefits at the ballot box.

The time is right to show the privateers the door -- together with the governments that share their lucrative water beds.

buns of troppo...

Good on Richard Branson to help Aboriginal people of Australia, as seen on ABC-TV tonight (15/03/10) in "becoming Jangala" (Russell James and Clifton Bieundurry).

And may I say it's greatly inspiring to see Richard go troppo (term use by Nino Culotta — aka John O'Grady — to define a certain gentle madness for those living north of the tropic in Australia, see box 4)... dropped his dacks and showed his cute bum to the rest of the world... Good one! Very John O'Grady!... JO'G in his publications, used a photo of himself stting on a dunny in an open field, with his back to the camera... 

Accepted as a "wog" (Italian) or a "salami" (Polish), just arrived in Australia, I had the honour of meeting John O'Grady a few times... Ten laughs a minute.

May the venture of Richard Branson and Russell James bear many fruit.

see toon at top...

cynical greens...

From Lidsay Tanner

Remember the republicans who campaigned for a ''No'' vote in the republic referendum? They wanted a directly elected president and promised a vigorous campaign for a "real republic" after the referendum was defeated. Did we hear anything further? Of course not. They were full of hot air.

I'm in politics to achieve outcomes. That means accepting painful realities. Achieving progressive change can be hard. Sometimes you have to settle for partial improvements, or wait for more opportune times. I'm a direct electionist but I voted ''Yes'' in 1999.

The Greens' rise means progressive voters face such choices each election. In seats like mine, electoral system quirks make them a genuine threat once they get about a quarter of the vote - they get ahead of the Liberals and benefit from Liberal preferences.

Green voters typically either have or are getting a tertiary education. Support is concentrated among tertiary disciplines focused on more than making money. Their viewpoint is increasingly at odds with that of Labor voters who aren't tertiary educated. On issues like asylum seekers, forests and civil liberties, differences can be stark. The Greens seek to exploit them.

To win government and implement reform, Labor has to do more than appeal to its most progressive supporters. Retaining the implicit support of most Australians requires compromises that tend to upset Labor's natural supporters. Without responsibility for implementing change, the Greens can ruthlessly exploit such disappointments.

Whatever Labor does, it is never good enough for the Greens. Even when we're repealing WorkChoices, apologising to indigenous Australians, or tackling climate change, they attack Labor for their own cynical purposes. If the Greens had voted with Labor, the Senate would have passed the climate change legislation. We now have no legislation at all. The Greens' political posturing took precedence over action.


Gus: I expressed the same feelings many times. It's better to be on the road to where you want to go than dither forever behind the start line with a huge bag of principled soggy tantrums, while dreaming of getting where you want to go, in one hop...

going to live in the sun...

When Sir Richard Branson stood on a collection of man-made islands in the shape of the world off the coast of Dubai in 2006, and planted a British flag in the sand dressed in a flamboyant Union Flag suit, he said: “I stake my claim on England.”

Now it seems Britain’s best-known entrepreneur is quitting the country that has made him his fortune. The flamboyant businessman has moved permanently to the Caribbean island he bought in 1979 where he will continue his extensive charitable and philanthropic work.

Sir Richard’s spokesman confirmed that the entrepreneur had decided to live permanently on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), but denied that the decision was related to tax matters.

“He moved there more than seven years ago, but rather than retiring there, he spends 90 per cent of his time starting not-for-profit ventures and raising millions for charity through speeches and other charitable engagements,” the spokesman said.

He added: “Since he gives 100 per cent of any monies he earns from these to charity, it makes no difference for tax purposes whether he is in the UK or the BVI.”

Writing on his personal blog, Sir Richard insisted that he had moved to the Caribbean to help preserve his health: ...

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I believe Sir Richard has some solar panels there... See story at top...

four years later...

Sir Richard Branson: We need a vision of a safer, cleaner, better world and the shared goal that increases in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius is that vision. And, it’s the target prescribed by the best available science. Let’s reinvigorate that vision. We need to remember that tackling the issue of climate change will also allow us to empower and protect vulnerable populations around the globe and strengthen human rights. We need a solutions orientated approach. This will allow us to have a more focused and more relevant discussion and engage the best and brightest people. Let’s create a fair level playing field at the national and international level. If we do, deals will be done, and money will flow to low carbon technologies.

We need to finance low carbon development. 20 percent of the European Union’s GDP and 20 percent of China’s GDP comes from public procurement. Using the procurement laws as an incentive for low carbon development would move huge amounts of finance and create new market opportunities for business. Invite the private sector to play. The private sector can provide many of the technological solutions cheaply. The COP President in 2014 needs to find new ways to engage the private sector beyond the current trade fair formula.


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Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson has taken out a full-page advertisement in News Corp papers urging the Federal Government not to provide financial assistance for rival airline Qantas.

The Government has indicated it supports lifting foreign ownership restrictions and is prepared to provide extra help for the Flying Kangaroo, which could come in the form of a debt guarantee.

Sir Richard warns that international businesses "should think twice" about investing in Australia if the Government provides assistance.

"Should the Australian taxpayer be forced by the Australian Government to prop up the Qantas Group, as Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey is suggesting, business people worldwide should think twice about investing in Australia for fear of such intervention in their sectors," Sir Richard wrote in the ad.

"Qantas has gone to its shareholders on numerous occasions over the last few years to wage its capacity war against us.


See toon at top....