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Weekend reflections

June 22nd, 2007

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. Hermit
    June 23rd, 2007 at 06:39 | #1

    I wonder if there is a crisis looming with Chinese coal demand and Australia’s role in meeting it. China has now overtaken the US as the world’s leading greenhouse emitter, though not on a per capita basis. They make no apology by claiming this is the hidden cost of cheap exports
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/PEK284887.htm
    I’d guess a Keynesian would suggest punitive tariffs be imposed until they pollute less. However there is a dramatic new factor lurking behind the scenes; Chinese domestic coal production could peak in four years time then go into steep decline
    http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/5/13/105158/220
    Obviously Australia will be heavily leaned on to increase coal exports. Ignoring global warming issues this demonstrates our need to keep fuelling the Chinese boom perhaps to our eventual detriment. It also shows that even seemingly abundant coal is a resource that needs to be conserved.

  2. Helen
    June 23rd, 2007 at 11:28 | #2

    Thoughts on the Rachel Carson centenary, only about a month late.

    how come something that’s an outright lie gain so much respectability in the press and in the US government? If you have been following this, you might be… as bemused as I am. If not, you need to read this post by Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings.

    I recommend this post in particular because it’s such an excellent roundup of, or introduction to, the manufactured controversy. I have to say though, that it is John Quiggin and Tim Lambert, who Hilzoy links to, who have done the heavy lifting. These guys have been writing about this topic for some years, but as JQ remarks wryly, it’s as if the proponents live in a parallel universe, immune to facts. It’s interesting that this bit of Astroturfing can possibly be traced, like so much “junk science�, to Big Tobacco. As an Australian I’m always inclined to assume a stuffup (or many interrelated stuffups) than a conspiracy. But however they emerged, it’s horrifying that these toxic memes can be created and, like the stories that credulous relatives forward to you by email, accepted as true pretty much forever.

    Thanks for helping to keep us out of the parallel universe.

  3. gordon
    June 23rd, 2007 at 12:32 | #3

    Helen, the cast iron blogger you link to is not unusual in preferring a “stuffup” explanation to a conspiracy theory. What has long puzzled me is why proponents of conspiracy theories are bombarded with endless demands for proofs, but nobody ever seems to ask those who assume stuffups for any proof at all. It seems totally unfair. I think an assumption of a stuffup should be subjected to as rigorous an examination as a conspiracy proposal.

  4. BilB
    June 24th, 2007 at 20:07 | #4

    Hermit,

    I remember when Nauru was rich with phospate. I ponder, every time I hear of another muti-millionaire lottery winner turned pauper, at how quickly that happened. The people ripping the heart out of this country are only concerned about the next stockholders meeting and have no commitment to Australia’s long term interests at all. And sadly that goes for our federal government as well. New Zealand, to their credit, put a halt to the logging of Kauri trees and it will take a thousand years or more for these forrests to regenerate to anything like their original splendour. But Australia’s coal can never be replaced. It is a curious thing about extinctions, the rate of destruction accelerates towards the collapse to the extent that the end is rarely observed.

  5. June 25th, 2007 at 13:10 | #5

    Given that there are some economically-minded people who read this blog, I wonder what people made of this opinion piece in the Age on the weekend:

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/child-poverty-is-booming-like-the-economy/2007/06/21/1182019279850.html

    In Victoria, it would appear that, despite low unemployment, economic booms and the like, there is still a genuine underclass who are firmly sedimented at the bottom of the food chain.

  6. melanie
    June 26th, 2007 at 00:01 | #6

    Continuing the subject matter at “one cheer for Howard” (that thread has degenerated), I read the following on the ABC website.

    One of the first communities likely to benefit is Mutitjulu near Uluru, which has struggled with a crisis of substance abuse, mismanagement and lack of services in recent years. The Commonwealth funded a new police station at Mutitjulu last year and the Territory Government installed two Aboriginal Community Police Officers. But since then one officer has resigned and the other was relocated to Yulara, leaving Mutitjulu without an ongoing police presence.
    So I googled around a bit. Mutitjulu has a population of 500-600 and has serious social problems. Community Police Officers have limited authority compared to regular cops. I can imagine many possible reasons why the first one didn’t stay. One might be “he was overwhelmed”.

    The community is already “dry” and no petrol is available, but the Yulara resort is only 25 km away. “Yulara is the busiest tourist resort in Australia and has a large range of bars and take away alcohol outlets. Elders from the community have requested that you do not purchase alcohol for the community members.” Yulara also has plenty of petrol. A Thai colleague of mine who visited Yulara met a bunch of Aboriginal men while he was out walking. They asked him to buy them some beer because they weren’t allowed to buy it at the resort. He was outraged at the ‘racism’ of this ‘discriminatory’ practice and went and bought them two cases of beer. Easy really.

    Children who want to go to high school could go to Nyangatjatjara Secondary College which has a boarding school in Yulara or day schools within three remote communities, including Mutijulu, Imanpa and Docker River, where the unemployment rates are as high as 90%. The Yulara campus has a vocational training scheme in collaboration with the resort. However, in 2006 the school was put under a government appointed administrator due to governance issues (making a loss and failing to submit records on time). It was then discovered that the dormitories (demountables) didn’t meet fire safety standards so they have been closed for months – with the result that most students are no longer attending school. According to the then principal (back in 2002):

    We have sought funding from many bodies, both government and private, but all have been unsuccessful. A problem is that we do not fit ‘guidelines’ in most cases. However, the situation in remote areas is different from those experienced elsewhere, but funding bodies do not recognise this.

    DEST funds this school to the extent of 70% of average operating costs of government schools, as it does for most Aboriginal schools. Other non-government schools in the NT get a lower proportion, but then they aren’t suffering from quite as much disadvantage.

    The second principal they employed was sacked, basically because she didn’t get on with her supervisor (CEO of the corporation) – who also called her ‘yella’ (apparently a local aboriginal term for ‘half-caste’). She lost her discrimination case because Tony Fitzgerald thought being called ‘yella’ was less important than not following the boss’s orders.

    I’m not sure how the police/army are going to sort that mess out. Anyone else read ‘oversimplification’ here?

  7. melanie
    June 26th, 2007 at 00:04 | #7

    I did put the end blockquote tags in. The middle 3 paras are not quotes.

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