Home > Environment > Standard Chartered and Galilee

Standard Chartered and Galilee

May 23rd, 2015

Among the international banks that might finance Adani’s massive Carmichael coal mine, and the associated rail line and port development, the most significant is probably Standard Chartered of the UK, currently Adani’s largest lender outside India. The media is providing mixed messages here.

Standard Chartered has announced its intention to “review” its involvement, stating, according to the Financial Times that

We will go no further with this until we are fully satisfied with the environmental impact of this project.

The chairman added that

He added that the bank was in “active dialogue” with the Australian government about the issue.

I’d normally read this as a euphemism for “we are going to pull the plug, like everyone else”, except that the Fin reports that the bank is.

running a now fairly discreet process because of the line-in-the-sand assault by the environmental defenders on banks that support coal

We’ll find out soon enough, I guess, given that Adani claims that it will start dredging in September. But given that the previous CEO and Chairman were forced out a few months ago, mainly because of bad loans to mining companies, it’s hard to see what the bank could gain by extending more credit to a venture that’s both financially marginally and politically toxic, or how it can claim to have satisfied itself on the environmental impact of a mine that will contribute as much to global warming as all but a handful of national economies. Surely they don’t believe that they will please anybody by announcing that the Abbott government has assured them that everything is fine.

Categories: Environment Tags:
  1. Hermit
    May 23rd, 2015 at 18:25 | #1

    I had to check on a historical oddity relating to India coal imports. Their PM Narendra Modi arrived at the Brisbane G20 summit on 17/11/14 where he rubbed shoulders with Abbott and other PMs. Fair enough but less than a fortnight later he returned to Brisbane on 30/11/14 to visit Campbell Newman. I think the express purpose of the quickie visit was to lobby for the Carmichael go ahead. If I recall Newman subsequently pledged $500m of state support. Bad move.

    If we think we have energy problems they pale into insignificance to getting a billion people out of poverty.

  2. Mick
    May 24th, 2015 at 01:06 | #2

    US photovoltaic manufacturer Sun Edison has commenced a US$4 billion JV with another Adani company for solar module factories in India.

  3. May 24th, 2015 at 02:34 | #3

    I am somewhat relieved to learn here here that this project is “financially marginal”. Just hopefully, in spite of Abbott’s support, it will collapse.

    The expansion of coal mining at such a breakneck pace when we face so much uncertainty about the future of our global life-support system ranks in criminality with the starting of the Second World War.

    What I posted to my own web site’s ‘about’ page in June 2007, when John Howard was still Prime Minister, may be of interest:

    The only fundamental difference between today’s globalised civilisation and those earlier failed civilisations that we have discovered fossil fuels formed over tens of millions of years through biological and geological processes under the ground. Instead of treating this endowment as a priceless gift, belonging to this and all future generations of humankind, we have dug up almost half of it in less than 200 years. The consumption of fossil fuels has allowed the world’s population to double from 500 million in 1650 to from around 1 billion in 1850 and over the next 150 years to expand again by six and a half to reach today’s global population of 6.6 billion. How such a large population is to have its current standards of living maintained, or even be fed once our fossil fuel reserves are exhausted, is uncertain at best.

  4. James Wimberley
    May 24th, 2015 at 09:20 | #4

    @Hermit
    So It’s all right to lift millions of Indians out of poverty and later kill them with heart and lung disease?

  5. tony lynch
    May 24th, 2015 at 09:27 | #5

    If you think the Indian elite has any concern to lift people out of poverty I have a bridge to sell you.

  6. Hermit
    May 24th, 2015 at 09:58 | #6

    It could be pointed out China got rich first then decided to clean up the air.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-23/beijing-improved-air-quality-result-of-good-policy-say-officials/6492350
    Or maybe the coal burners were just moved out of town.

    I’ve heard it said that coal imports will go to power air conditioners for the Indian middle class. The rural poor as usual miss out.

  7. ZM
    May 24th, 2015 at 17:57 | #7

    “The expansion of coal mining at such a breakneck pace when we face so much uncertainty about the future of our global life-support system ranks in criminality with the starting of the Second World War.”

    His Hon. Robert French, the Chief Justice of the High Court gave a general talk on the interaction of Trust and Statutory law last Wednesday at uni and in the talk he said that (in maybe the corporations act?) corporations are not allowed to engage in unconscionable behaviour. As the government does not dispute the science of climate change, then surely Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt can see that it is logical that this mine would be an unconscionable venture, and thus prohibited by common and statue law. I will try to write him a letter this week about it asking for a reply.

    If the government is genuinely worried about poverty in India and other developing countries, then they should help India with Renewable Energy Technology, as portable solar lamps and cookers are very good for helping the poor, especially the young, as the smoke and fumes from kerosene light and cooking is bad for them and their studies so solar is a great improvement.

  8. J-D
    May 24th, 2015 at 19:50 | #8

    @ZM

    If you do write to Greg Hunt please do let us know what sort of response you receive.

  9. Hermit
    May 25th, 2015 at 08:00 | #9

    I think the rural poor of India want more than solar lamps
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2717149/Bihar-village-rejects-solar-powered-micro-grid-demands-real-electricity.html
    A next step up would be fridges, electric scooters and water pumps which gets from a few watts per person to perhaps hundreds of watts at times. Based on ESAA statistics I believe each Australian uses an average of over 250w of residential electricity around the clock. We ‘the middle class’ all use a number of appliances every day even in prolonged rainy weather when solar output may be poor.

    I think an ABC show might touch on India solar lighting this week.

  10. James Wimberley
    May 25th, 2015 at 10:34 | #10

    @tony lynch
    Tony: India is a democracy. Getting and holding power requires attention to the wants of poor voters, who are the great majority. This leads to some counter-productive policies like subsidised electricity for farmers, but it’s absurd to suggest that India’s poor have no leverage over the élite.

  11. Tim Macknay
    May 25th, 2015 at 11:02 | #11

    @Hermit
    My reading of that article doesn’t suggest anything other than that some of the villagers are misinformed. Not really surprising – I would surmise that in mostly-illiterate rural Bihar, there is a lot of rumour and misinformation about virtually everything, including energy. No doubt some Indian business owners and officials who would stand to profit from coal development would see it in their interests to spread distrust of solar energy, just as the same interests have done so in (substantially more literate but not necessarily better informed) Australia.

  12. Ikonoclast
    May 25th, 2015 at 11:06 | #12

    @James Wimberley

    The word “democracy” covers a lot of variations. The UK is a “democracy” but the Tories now govern with one third of the votes. The USA is a “democracy” but reputable studies show that only the policies that the rich oligarchic elite want are actually enacted. Australia is a “democracy” but the two main parties enact only those economic policies which the rich elites want. Some social policies the majority want are enacted and used as sops to the electorate.

    Democracy is in retreat in every so-called democratic country which I observe. I haven’t observed modern India and I don’t know much about it politically. However, I would be extremely surprised if oligarchic and corporate capital are behaving differently in India from the rest of the globe.

    The age of democracy is over. The age of oligarchy/corporatocracy has begun. It was ever only incomplete and bourgeois democracy in any case. It was never real democracy. And even our incomplete manifestations of democracy are being wound back, not progressed.

    The change operates in this way. Corporatists first cooperate with representative ” democracy” to get policies enacted in favour of corporate capital. Corporatists then buy the political process and political parties. Our major parties are all bought by corporate capital now. The next step will be (indeed it’s happening now) to diminish representative democracy to a powerless rump by having enacted laws, treaties and agreements (like the TPP) to diminish national sovereignty and move (essentially) sovereignty and power to capitalist corporations.

    Throughout history, rising power complexes have operated in this way. First they operate as a junior and facilitating power working with the major power complex. Then they extend their power to become an approximately equal partner. Finally, they abolish or severely circumscribe the old power and assume power themselves.This is how parliament superseded monarchy and aristocracy. This is how corporate power is now operating to supersede parliamentary power.

    Whether this program will be carried through completely is still unknown. What operates in favour of corporate power is the fact that capitalism and the ownership systems which underpin it are quintessentially undemocratic. The command and control of resources and production systems belong to an unelected few; the oligarchs and their managers. The modern corporation functions as the coalescence of oligarchic and management power. Every corporation is an autocracy and the corporations run our economy which means in turn they run our society. By these very facts it is clear our society is undemocratic. The bulk of the people, employed or otherwise, have little to no say in the key decisions that manage and run our society.

  13. Ikonoclast
    May 25th, 2015 at 11:22 | #13
  14. Megan
    May 25th, 2015 at 11:48 | #14

    The negative story about solar in Bihar was from July 2014.

    Here is a positive story from September 2014.

    In this story they say:

    …The system works after dark or on cloudy days by using a battery bank that stores energy from 280 photovoltaic solar panels.

    “Today, children are studying well and women are able to cook late in the evening. Villagers are getting many benefits from this venture, including commercial establishments”, said 65-year-old farmer Ashok Kumar Singh.

    The villagers previously depended on kerosene-fuelled lamps that cost them 200 to 250 Indian rupees ($3.25 to $4) a month to operate. Now, they can switch on their lights and fans, charge their mobile phones and watch television for just Rs.75 to Rs.110 ($1.25 to $1.75) a month. Greenpeace officials said the grid has sufficient capacity for villagers to plug in refrigerators and water heaters as well.

  15. Ikonoclast
    May 25th, 2015 at 12:06 | #15

    In case I seem only gloomy and negative…

    I think there is some hope of breaking up corporate control. Part of this hope might come from distributed technology. Technologies that spring to mind are the internet and solar power. Distributed technology promises some hope if it enables individuals and small collectives to be autonomous producers. Thus the distributed nature might function to break up some large corporate power in some fields. Large corporations are deliberately working to stifle this side of the potential in technologies like the net and solar power. At the same time, many individuals and small innovative enterprises are working to enhance this potential. Time will tell I guess.

  16. J-D
    May 25th, 2015 at 12:16 | #16

    @Ikonoclast

    The idea that the world is not very democratic, that whatever manifestations of democracy exist are partial, limited, inadequate, unsatisfactory — I have no difficulty accepting that.

    The idea that those current conditions represent a regression, that the world is going backwards from a time when it was significantly more democratic than it is now — I don’t perceive the evidence that justifies that conception. I can’t think of a period in history when the world was significantly more democratic than it is now. If that’s what you think, which period can you be thinking of, and how was it more democratic than the present?

  17. Hermit
    May 25th, 2015 at 12:58 | #17

    @Tim Macknay
    I think the villagers want substantially higher energy consumption than what was offered with the microgrid. I’m not saying they need air conditioners or electric cooktops just yet but they probably aspire to most of the trapping of the urban middle class. In Australia I make that 6.6 kwh of electricity per day per man woman and child which is probably beyond the year round capabilities of a microgrid.

    That energy demand excludes the use of fuels like gas and petrol and their eventual replacement such as EV charging. It seems a bit colonial for us to say the villagers have to stay at the bottom of the energy consumption heap while we may or may not meet them halfway.

  18. Tim Macknay
    May 25th, 2015 at 13:22 | #18

    @Hermit

    I think the villagers want substantially higher energy consumption than what was offered with the microgrid.

    They probably do, although whether or not that is behind the protests referred to in the article is a matter of speculation. Most of the material I have read concerning the energy situation in India suggests that supplying coal-fired power through a grid to rural villages is considerably more expensive than installing solar microgrids, and supplying power using nuclear energy would be more expensive still.

    The villagers are perfectly entitled to want a larger energy supply, and I hope they get it, but their anti-solar attitude is misguided, and I think it’s entirely plausible that they may have been influenced by the same types who spread climate change denial and ‘wind turbine syndrome’ nonsense in the Australian media.

    It seems a bit colonial for us to say the villagers have to stay at the bottom of the energy consumption heap while we may or may not meet them halfway.

    I don’t think anybody here is saying that or would say that. If you’re saying it, you’re speaking solely on your own behalf. Perhaps you’re seeking to imply that even to suggest that they should use renewable energy is to condemn them to the bottom of the ‘energy consumption heap’, however that simply reflects your own prior belief and is not shared by most of the other commenters here, as I’m sure you’re aware. To put it another way: it’s derp.

  19. Crocodile Chuck
    May 25th, 2015 at 14:01 | #19

    This coal mine will never go ahead, because it will never attract funding. A no. of FR banks [SocGen, Credit Ag, BNP] have already run their models-and withdrawn. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/galilee-basin-three-more-banks-rule-out-financing-coal-projects-20150408-1mgvu0.html

  20. Tim Macknay
    May 25th, 2015 at 14:03 | #20

    @Hermit
    I might add, it’s derp that coincidentally(?) tracks very closely to the coal industry’s global PR campaign (c.f. ‘Advanced Energy for Life’).

  21. Megan
    May 25th, 2015 at 14:48 | #21

    According to the article I linked to at #14, the village hasn’t had electricity for 30 years.

    Life has been transformed for the 2,400 residents of Dharnai, a village in Bihar, India’s poorest state, by the completion of a solar-powered micro-grid, bringing them light and power for all their daily needs after 30 years with no electricity.

    They are therefore better off – as far as electricity goes – than they were before.

  22. Tim Macknay
    May 25th, 2015 at 15:15 | #22

    @Megan
    Yes, some brief Google ‘research’ suggests that a great many people in Dharnai are very happy with the solar system that has been installed. The fact that the Dharnai installation was the showcase for a Greenpeace program to roll out many similar systems makes me wonder whether the protest described in the Daily Mail (a publication which regularly features prominent articles by climate change deniers) was, like similar protests elsewhere, instigated by pro-coal industry interests.

  23. Hermit
    May 25th, 2015 at 16:30 | #23

    Looking at the global picture we are now using about 17 TW average instantaneous power consumption. Estimates differ but call it 17 TW = 13 fossil burning + 4 non fossil. Some of the non fossil is wood and animal dung burned in smoke filled huts which we’d like to be a lot cleaner if nothing else. If there are 9 bn of us in the latter half of the century some say we’ll need 25 TW which will include more and cleaner energy for the poor, greater efficiency by other users and replacement of transport fuels. Call it 25 TW = 23 non fossil + 2 fossil burning. The nonfossil component goes from 4 TW to 23 TW nearly a six fold increase in less than four decades.

    If this is achieved it will be one of the most dramatic changes in human history. Is it even possible?

  24. Tim Macknay
    May 25th, 2015 at 16:46 | #24

    If this is achieved it will be one of the most dramatic changes in human history. Is it even possible?

    Whether or not it’s possible is something we’re going to find out. But I’d suggest that the change, if it does occur, will not necessarily be more dramatic than many other technological and economic changes that have occurred over the past half-century.

  25. Ikonoclast
    May 25th, 2015 at 17:04 | #25

    @J-D

    It probably depends on whether you look at the world, the West, the Anglophone West or Australia (for examples). I am not so sure about the UK but I contend that the USA, Europe and Australia were more nearly democratic in the 1960s (for example) than they are today.

    I base this mainly on the inroads that capitalism and corporatism have made in buying and suborning representative democracy since the early 1970s. It is not enough to ask if the country have an ostensibly democratic-style constitution, elections and democratic representatives. The answers for these questions were and are “yes” for AUST and the USA both in the 1960s and now. Yet something or things profound have still changed. I would argue the change lies in a shift in influence on political parties that is away from their grassroots and electoral popular support bases and towards their capitalist-corporate funding support bases.

    What I am saying is that the grassroots party membership and the electorate have much less influence on determining party policy. Capital and corporations have much more influence on major party policy. A situation has been engineered where parties largely ignore electorate-wide demands for serious policy change. This occurs because capitalists and corporations are their major donors. Each party makes policy to try to ensure capitalist and corporate donations. This new policy is naturally that policy which suits corporate capitalism. Then parties find side-issues where they attempt to differentiate themselves. These side-issues are matters that corporate capital does not really care about one way or the other.

    We should even note the rhetoric. Major parties argue about who will be the better economic managers… not better economic policy makers but better economic managers. This is because policy is already made and handed down by the corporate capitalists. Governments only implement this policy in a managerial way. It is taken as a given that policy (monetarist and neoliberal policy essentially) is set and immutable. All that is left for government is to manage the policy, not make it.

    This is why we see a rise in the electorate flip-flopping between major parties. They are trying to get change, they are trying to get a democratic response which is representative of their will but they cannot get it. Both major parties offer the same monetarist and neoliberal policies.

    To sum up, ” advances” in representative democracy since the 1960s have simply been advances in subverting representative democracy and implementing the agenda of corporate capital. This is certainly true in Europe and the Anglophone West.

    Representative democracy is now functionally obsolete. The techniques for subverting it are now too well known and concentrated wealth and privilege bases exist to fund this subversion. Representative democracy always had serious intentional design limitations in any case. This is not surprising. It was designed to be a very limited form of democracy from the start. Older forms of power (aristocracy, land-holders, rentiers, 19th C Laissez-faire capitalists) were careful to limit the drive to implement democracy as much as they could at the time(s).

    Democracy, in the guise of bourgeois representative democracy, made gains for social-democracy for a while. That era is now well and truly over. It ended in about the late 1970s. The (limited) democratic aspects of bourgeois representative democracy are now being programmatically wound back.

    Real democracy it not possible until workplaces are democratic. Look at all our workplaces. Apart from a few rare worker cooperatives our all workplaces are autocratic. Work is where most people spend most of their waking time. How can a society be truly democratic if workplaces are autocratic? How can a society be truly democratic when most economic, production and reward decisions are made by minority of “owners”? The word “owners” has to be in quotes because this ownership is a false construct when measured against the real standard of who actually does the work, makes the effort and takes all the physical risks to life, limb and health to create the wealth.

  26. Ikonoclast
    May 25th, 2015 at 17:36 | #26

    Tony Seba has gone out on a limb (maybe) and said that by 2030 our energy system will be entirely transformed.

    According to Motherboard;

    “Seba’s thesis, set out in more detail in his new book Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation, is that by 2030 “the industrial age of energy and transportation will be over,” swept away by “exponentially improving technologies such as solar, electric vehicles, and self-driving cars.”

    I don’t know if I believe Seba or not. But we only have to wait 15 years to see if he’s right. If he had said 2040, I would have said he has a good chance of being right provided other limits do not seriously hamper our economy by then. The limits I am most worried about now are waste sink limits and disruptions of natural cycles and bio-services… and the apparent human propensity for conflict rather cooperation under stress.

  27. J-D
    May 25th, 2015 at 18:39 | #27

    @Ikonoclast

    You write: ‘What I am saying is that the grassroots party membership and the electorate have much less influence on determining party policy.’ But you’ve produced no evidence that the grassroots party membership and the electorate had any more influence in determining party policy in the 1960s (or, for that matter, during any other historical period you want to choose for the comparison). So you still haven’t made out your case that there was once a period of greater democracy than the present.

  28. Megan
    May 25th, 2015 at 18:58 | #28

    Ikon,

    “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people” – John Adams – Second President – 1797 – 1801

    I would include the – I argue vital – role played by the hyper-concentration of media ownership/control and the flow on effect of “journalism” homogeneity whereby the few remaining outlets may as well be owned by one entity because their output is indistinguishable. Look at the pro-war, anti-refugee, pro-neoliberalism, etc… uniformity across News Ltd, Fairfax, ABC, APN etc..

  29. Ikonoclast
    May 25th, 2015 at 19:30 | #29

    @Megan

    Our only hope on this front is that less and less people take their news and views from mainstream media. I think things might be moving that way at least with the under 30s. But I don’t know any hard and fast facts.

  30. Ikonoclast
    May 25th, 2015 at 19:47 | #30

    @J-D

    You are right. These are assertions on my part not academic studies. Though there is at least one key recent academic study which shows majority views do not make policy in the USA.

    “The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics.” ” – Common Dreams.

    Did majority views ever make policy in the USA? That is a good question. But certainly it is clear that majority views do not now make policy in the USA. If the majority aren’t deciding, it’s not democracy. In the US case it is an oligarchy.

    I suppose the other part of my evidence is circumstantial. Social-democratic objectives were pursued more strongly in the 1960s (low unemployment, the rights to worker organisation, a living wage and so on). Now these interests of the majority take a back seat to rich minority capitalist interests. The circumstantial evidence is that democracy is in decline and this is evidenced by majority interests being in decline. If majority interests were still as effective as in the 1960s we would see more policies directed to majority interests.

    I used to believe that representative democracy was democracy. I am now firmly of the opinion that it is not democracy at all and indeed that it is an intentionally sham form of democracy to prevent progress to real democracy: a political and ideological viewpoint on my part for sure.

  31. Megan
    May 26th, 2015 at 00:47 | #31

    Speaking of democracy…

    In Spain the so-called ‘far left’ party (in fact they are about centre or centre-‘left’) Podemos has taken the lead in several large cities and towns in their local elections.

    The ruling duopoly in Spain consists of the (ironically named) PP and the PSOE. PP is Popular Party – they are not very popular, and PSOE is supposedly ‘socialist’ but in reality they are neo-liberal fascists, just like the PP.

    The vote for the duopoly was down to about 52% – between them!

    In Australia you wouldn’t know this had happened if you get your information from the establishment media.

    They have their equivalent of federal elections at the end of this year and Podemos are looking pretty good. But again, you won’t hear that from the machine media.

  32. Ikonoclast
    May 26th, 2015 at 07:18 | #32

    @Megan

    I have been watching Greece a bit. It is interesting how a left party is prevented from enacting social-democratic policy by the machinations of international finance and the Euro technocrats. The groups aligned against Greece (and against any EU country which wants to assert democratic autonomy) are sometimes known as the Troika. The Troika are the EC (European Commission), the IMF and the ECB (European Central Bank.)

    Effectively, the Troika says to Greece, “You are not permitted to make democratic decisions about your economy. You must obey our technocratic international finance dictates and run neoliberal policy. Pensioners must starve and unemployment must reach depression levels so that rich bankers and rich investors can be repaid.” The Greeks’ hands are tied while they remain part of the EU. One strongly suspects that regime change would be used on them if they attempted to exercise a democratic right to exit the EU and re-float the Drachma.

    Without the courage to exit the EU and make national economic policy democratically, Spain and Greece have little to no chance of repairing their economies.

    It is worth reading the article “Destroying the Greek economy in order to save it” by Mark Weisbrot on the Aljazeera site. It is very clear the Troika are deliberately attacking the Greek government and Greek economy to discipline the Greeks for daring to vote for a left wing government. The intention is to demonstrate to Spain what will happen to it if it votes left wing.

    The overall purpose is to maintain “fiscal discipline”. “Fiscal discipline” really means “All wealth flows to and accumulates with the rich.”

  33. J-D
    May 26th, 2015 at 07:34 | #33

    @Ikonoclast

    The question is not ‘how much influence do majority views have over government policy?’ but ‘did majority views have more influence over government policy in the 1960s than they do now?’

    Are your perceptions of the 1960s based on good evidence, or are you looking back to the 1960s through rose-coloured glasses?

    Was government policy in the 1960s really more favourable to low unemployment, worker organisation, and the living wage than it is now? Or are you just imagining that?

  34. Ikonoclast
    May 26th, 2015 at 08:28 | #34

    @J-D

    Do you bother to check any of these facts for yourself before you ask the questions?

    I am not imagining the low unemployment rate of the 1960s for Australia. It is a verifiable fact. The unemployment rate in the 1960s in Australia bounced around the 2% level. – Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force, cat no 6203.0, 6202.0.

    I am not imagining the high unionisation of the Australia workforce circa 1960s relative to today.

    “Between 1921 and the mid-1950s unionism commanded a central place in Australian
    society. Even in the depths of the Great Depression, union density never fell below
    42.5 per cent. As the economy recovered during World War II unionism won
    unprecedented support. In 1948 union density reached an all-time peak when 64.9 per
    cent of the workforce had a union ticket. It remained above 60 per cent throughout the
    early 1950s. While, no doubt, many unionists joined only because of union preference
    clauses it was also the case that countless others were deeply committed to the union
    cause. Unionism was socially anchored in the rituals of working people’s lives.
    Unions ran social and cultural activities, as well as educational classes.” – Bowden , The Rise and Decline of Australian Unionism.

    ” In the 16 years after 1954 union density dropped from 62 per cent to 49 per cent.” – Bowden.

    Overall union density is now only about 17% in Australia down from 25.4% in 1999 (from OECD stat extracts).

    The reasons for these changes over the years are complex and do include structural changes in the workforce like the decline in manufacturing. The overall decline also did see periods of temporary reversals like the increasing unionisation of government clerical workers in the 1970s and 1980s. There is no doubt however that the strong attacks on unions and worker rights of the Howard era (in particular), with its neoliberal agenda, played a role in reducing worker rights, real wages (after adjustment for inflation) and worker unionisation.

    “The declining relative living standards of low paid workers and their families have been known for more than a decade.

    The major cause of the decline, and the fact that families are now living in poverty, has been the fall since the 1970s in the value of minimum wages relative to community wage levels. Despite that long term trend, until the turn of the century increases in family payments more than offset the decline in wages and lifted families out of poverty. Since then, and particularly over the past decade, family payments have only partially offset the decline in the relative wages, thereby reversing the earlier trend. Over the past decade the wage cuts have been too great and the increases in family payments have been insufficient.” – Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations, “After a century the minimum wage system abandons families” – Briefing Paper on the Fair Work Commission’s June 2014 decision which set wages on the basis of the needs of single workers, without taking into account the needs of workers with family responsibilities 10 September 2014″.

    This is a selection of sources that support my assertions J-D. I have to go and dig up sources (which I know will exist and support my case from my general knowledge and wide reading over the years) because you clearly have read no Australian history and you are too lazy to fact check yourself. I doubt that I will bother again to answer any of your ill-founded Gish Gallop questions.

  35. Tim Macknay
    May 26th, 2015 at 13:08 | #35

    This is peripherally related to the OP, so I’ll post it here: In what appears to represent a remarkable ideological shift, “Libertarian” Senator David Leyonhjelm is now advocating the creation of an entirely new government regulatory body to regulate infrasound from wind farms.

    Given that strongest thing one could say about evidence for the health risks of wind farms is that they are ‘unproven’, this represents either an extraordinarily enthusiastic embrace of the precautionary principle by “Libertarians”, and a major shift in their attitude to the role of government, or else Senator Leyonhjelm’s ideological principles are actually as thin as a film of oil on the surface a puddle. I wonder which is more likely?

  36. David Irving (no relation)
    May 26th, 2015 at 14:21 | #36

    @Tim Macknay
    I think Leyonhjelm’ position is generally consistent but, like most glibertarians, he finds renewable energy just a step too far, no matter what the evidence is.

  37. Hermit
    May 26th, 2015 at 14:50 | #37

    With the Tory re-election communities in the UK now have the power to veto new wind farms
    http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/Politics/article1557135.ece
    Sen. L could be tapping a rich vein of support.

    India has about 23.4 GW of installed wind capacity while Australia has about 2.5 GW I believe. Somehow we keep thinking we’re ahead of the pack.

  38. Tim Macknay
    May 26th, 2015 at 15:36 | #38

    @David Irving (no relation)
    Obviously he dislikes renewable energy, but to enthusiastically endorse the kind of government regulation that would be anathema to him under any other circumstance, on the basis of allegedly strongly held principles, just because he dislikes it does not look like any kind of genuine consistency to me. Unless by consistency, you mean that “Libertarians” are consistently hypocritical when it comes to things like renewable energy.

  39. J-D
    May 26th, 2015 at 16:37 | #39

    @Ikonoclast

    The question is not ‘Was unemployment lower in the 1960s than it is now?’ but ‘Was government policy more favourable to low unemployment in the 1960s than it is now?’

    I am well aware, and was at the time I raised this point, that unemployment was lower in the 1960s than it is now. I am also well aware that unemployment has gone up and down over the years and the decades. Just to take one example, unemployment was higher in the 1930s than in the 1920s, but that alone is not enough evidence to conclude that government policy was more favourable to low unemployment in the 1920s than in the 1930s. There is no good reason to think that variations in the rate of unemployment reflect variations in government policy and nothing else, so we can’t tell how much government policy favours low unemployment just by looking at movements in unemployment rates.

    I am prepared to dismiss, as far too unlikely to be true, the idea that government policies have always been equally favourable/unfavourable (depending on how you look at it) to low unemployment. However, if government policy has systematically become less favourable over the decades, the evidence of movement in unemployment rates over the decades doesn’t demonstrate it. It is at least equally likely that government policy has moved back and forth between periods when it’s more favourable to low unemployment and periods when it’s less favourable.

    Looking at your case more generally, what it amounts to is that you are able to point to examples where governments have implemented policies that you are opposed to. For what it’s worth, most or all of the policies you are opposed to are also policies that I am opposed to. But the definition of ‘democratic government’ is not ‘government that implements policies that Ikonoclast approves of’ and it’s also not ‘government that implements policies that Ikonoclast and J-D approve of’.

    You see governments implementing policies that you disapprove of, strongly, and you want to believe that most people agree with you and conclude that the government is (undemocratically) going against what most people want. But maybe you should consider the possibility that most people don’t agree with you. I frequently consider the possibility that most people don’t agree with me.

  40. zoot
    May 26th, 2015 at 19:10 | #40

    ‘Was government policy more favourable to low unemployment in the 1960s than it is now?’

    Speaking as someone who was there at the time, I can assure you the answer is “Yes”.
    No further correspondence will be entered into.

  41. Tim Macknay
    May 26th, 2015 at 19:13 | #41

    @Hermit

    Sen. L could be tapping a rich vein of support.

    Judging by the attitude to wind energy displayed by many members of the Liberal backbench, you could be correct.

  42. Hermit
    May 27th, 2015 at 13:01 | #42

    It’s a big leap from an 8 watt LED lamp to say 500 watts (input power) for a small personal air conditioner if conditions are humid
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/world/heatwave-in-india-kills-hundreds-as-temperatures-climb-to-50c-in-some-areas/story-fni6um3i-1227370659020
    Those who say the problem is manageable no doubt themselves refrain from using aircon in 45C + heat.

  43. Ikonoclast
    May 27th, 2015 at 16:31 | #43

    @Hermit

    I have posted before on how it is possible to air condition a room or a house for 24 hour comfort solely with solar power. It requires the room or house to be well insulated and to have certain other design features, in particular thermal ballast.

    The air conditioning is run all day solely or predominantly from solar panels through a power inverter. There may be some need for energy storage (usually not a great need) to smooth power delivery over the daylight hours to the reverse cycle aircon unit (the only type you should be using due to its efficiency).

    The air-conditioning not only cools the room or house during the hottest duration of the day (when the sun shines most of course), it is also cools the thermal ballast in the room or house. This thermal ballast might be rock or block walls, tiles or even water tanks. At night the cool thermal ballast keeps the house or room cool all night. I use this system for a downstairs rumpus room where I sleep in summer. I aircon the room through the day with free solar power and shut the aircon down before sunset. The room has a large expanse of tiles over concrete slab. These remain cool all night and keep the room cool. The room is also well-insulated.

    This is a first world solution of course. It presupposes an environmentally designed or passive-designed house with good insulation and good circulation of air over and around the thermal ballast. One excellent design idea is to incorporate your rainwater tanks inside at the core of the house as thermal ballast and to allow air circulation around these tanks. The exact specifications of the tanks can allow for necessary robustness, aesthetic considerations and so on.

    There are plenty of solutions other than a nuclear power station in your state (though that would be a solution too). It strikes me that you don’t want to hear solutions that don’t involve an automatic decision for nuclear power and an automatic rejection of everything else.

  44. J-D
    May 27th, 2015 at 18:53 | #44

    @zoot

    Without corroborative detail your bare assertion is unconvincing.

  45. Ikonoclast
    May 27th, 2015 at 19:28 | #45

    @J-D

    I don’t agree with you but I don’t have the patience to argue with you. There are “at least as many” (to borrow a phrase of yours) assumptions in your assertions as in my assertions. In fact, you bring less facts to the table to back assertions than I do. It’s a classic Gish Gallop argumentation style. I sort of wonder at the psychology behind your style. Is it trolling? Is it a general desire to obfuscate the search for truth? Is it a lawyer-like delight in trivial, misleading and mischievous argumentation? Is it the medieval school-man’s delight in pointless straw-splitting? Is it an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

  46. plaasmatron
    May 28th, 2015 at 01:01 | #46

    back to the OP, Bill McKibben has written an amusing piece for the Guardian.

  47. ZM
    May 28th, 2015 at 08:46 | #47

    J-D,

    I have written to the Hon. Minister for the Environment outlining my concerns and asserting that decisions about new coal mines should not be made before the December conference on post-2020 commitments to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

  48. Julie Thomas
    May 28th, 2015 at 11:15 | #48

    J-D How about this for some corroborative detail?

    This is from the transcript of Mal Frazer’s election speech in 1975.

    “Let us all as Australians determine to restore prosperity, defeat inflation and provide jobs for all.”

    Did you see that bit about jobs for all?

    Although it seems that other people think Mal was just lying or making it up because in “a wonderful but short lecture by Professor Bill Mitchell giving a keynote address at the National Skills Conference in Melbourne (Australia) on June 29, 2011, on full employment from the perspective of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT),”

    the claim is made that: “the attack on full employment in Australia began in 1975, under the Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (1975-1983), and this continued with reduction of public sector employment in the late 1970s.”

    Wiki says ” Australia was the first country in the world in which full employment in a capitalist society was made official policy by its government.

    “On May 30, 1945, The Australian Labor Party Prime Minister John Curtin and his Employment Minister John Dedman proposed a white paper in the Australian House of Representatives titled Full Employment In Australia, the first time any government apart from totalitarian regimes had unequivocally committed itself to providing work for any person who was willing and able to work. Conditions of full employment lasted in Australia from 1941 to 1975.”

  49. David Irving (no relation)
    May 28th, 2015 at 12:57 | #49

    @Tim Macknay
    Yes, it’s certainly at odds with his attitude to, say, gun control.

  50. J-D
    May 28th, 2015 at 15:20 | #50

    @Julie Thomas

    By chance I recently reread a passage in Don Dunstan’s political memoir Felicia in which he describes a meeting with Fraser (as Prime Minister) during which Fraser commented on South Australia’s success in getting an extremely favourable deal out of the Commonwealth over railways. Dunstan observed in reply that it had been a major issue in a South Australian election campaign and Fraser had said then that the Dunstan Government had done very badly by the State. ‘Oh well’, said Fraser, ‘that’s politics.’

    I am also old enough to remember the ‘Fistful of Dollars’ election of 1977 (the one that gave then-Treasurer Howard the originally sarcastic nickname of ‘Honest John’).

    So I don’t need your own citation of Bill Mitchell to doubt the word of Malcolm Fraser on any political subject. I’d need to see it corroborated by something better before I accepted it.

    However, to be fair, if we’re not going to accept Malcolm Fraser’s uncorroborated word on matters of government policy, I think we have to apply the same standard to John Curtin and John Dedman. I know they said they were committed to full employment, but is there evidence of actions to make good on the words?

    As for the assertion that conditions of full employment lasted in Australia from 1941 to 1975: the Menzies Government’s credit squeeze introduced in Treasurer Holt’s mini-budget of late 1960 pushed unemployment up to 3% in 1961. That may seem low by the standards of recent decades, but that’s not what people thought at the time; it was not regarded as consistent with ‘full employment’, and the government was very nearly defeated in the 1961 election as a result.

  51. Julie Thomas
    May 28th, 2015 at 18:05 | #51

    J_D lol What sort of “evidence of actions to make good on the words” would make the grade?

    And more lol’s with respect to your assertion “that’s not what people thought at the time”.
    Really? I was a people in the late ’60’s and I never heard anyone complaining that there were not enough jobs.

    You seem to be claiming that in the 1961 election the govt was “very nearly” defeated because the peoples were unhappy that there was not full-employment. Where is your evidence for this?

    I’m reading Caldwell’s 1961 election speech and in this speech unemployment levels and the failure of the Menzies govt to maintain full employment is only one issue he discusses. He says much more on many of the other things such as: World Peace, European common market, Northern Development, Housing, Industrial matters, Social Services, Education, Health, Local Government, Aborigines, and Primary Industry.

    So perhaps your memory of the times is not all that accurate?

    And, in the bit where he explains what Labor will do about the problems if elected, he says “Labor will introduce a supplementary Budget immediately on election to provide for a deficit of £100 million, if necessary, to restore full employment within twelve months.

    So he never got the chance to implement his plans but plans there were to do actual things.

    Awesome speech though, who woulda thought that world peace would be on the agenda for an election speech.

  52. John Quiggin
    May 28th, 2015 at 19:01 | #52

    I’m with J-D on the 1961 election, though I was below newspaper-reading (not to mention voting) age at the time. Most accounts I read from people who were there suggested that the increase in unemployment was central.

    Coming to elections within my memory, 2.4 per cent unemployment was a big factor in McMahon’s loss to Whitlam in 1972.

  53. Julie Thomas
    May 28th, 2015 at 20:07 | #53

    Fair enough JQ. I have to admit that I was only 9 in 1961 and didn’t read newspapers either.

    I do remember a lot of political discussion at times happening but possibly 1961 was during the ‘theosophical years’ rather than the ‘political years’. My father had these periods of intense interest in things different and esoteric. The Theosophists provided a very nice supper after their talks.

    The assumption that there ‘should’ be a job for everyone who wants one was a thing, and now it’s not. Sigh.

  54. J-D
    May 29th, 2015 at 12:00 | #54

    @Julie Thomas

    I see I’ve inadvertently given a misleading impression. I mentioned earlier that I’m old enough to remember the 1977 election, but I’m not old enough to remember the 1961 election; indeed, that was before my birth. So I have to rely on the accounts of historians, political scientists, journalists, and memoirists, as all of us often have no choice but to do.

    Relying on such accounts, I have formed the understanding that the general rate of unemployment in the 1950s and 1960s was substantially lower than in either the early or the late part of the twentieth century, so that what seemed a shockingly high rate of unemployment in 1961 would seem a remarkably low one now.

    Relying again on the accounts of others, it appears to me that economists are in agreement that government policy can affect unemployment levels (although they disagree about which policies are best calculated to lower unemployment and which most liable to increase it). However they appear also to be in agreement that other things apart from government policies, factors outside government control, can affect unemployment levels. Supposing all that is true, then a historical period of lower unemployment might be the result of different government policies (more effective in reducing unemployment), but it’s also possible that government policies were much the same then and that other factors made the difference.

    Circling back now to my original exchange with Ikonoclast, even supposing that governments were more serious about the problem of unemployment in the 1960s, how does that mean that there was more democracy then? Do we define ‘democratic government’ as meaning ‘government that is effective in keeping unemployment low’? I don’t think so.

  55. Ikonoclast
    May 29th, 2015 at 13:44 | #55

    @J-D

    I define democracy as government which is responsive to the demos, responsive to the common people. I assumed that people do tend and have tended to demand good employment prospects (low unemployment) both now and back then (the 1960s). I adduced as evidence of “more democracy” (admittedly a rather qualitative judgement) the higher commitment of earlier governments (like those in the 1960s) to maintaining low unemployment ie. to meeting the common demand for good employment prospects across the economy and for all classes of workers. I further adduced as evidence of this commitment the actual existence of low unemployment as an indicator of government commitment to low unemployment. I admitted this was circumstantial evidence (in the broad meaning of the term). This contains the implicit admission that other factors drive unemployment rates too.

    These are my arguments in a nutshell. If they don’t convince you that is fair enough. I could go much wider and talk about other evidence that federal governments are now less responsive to the general polity and more responsive to elite demands (oligarchs and corporate capital) than they were in the 1960s. However, as I mentioned before, I don’t have the patience for that argument with you J-D. You can Gish Gallop longer than I have the patience to dig up and provide evidence.

  56. J-D
    May 29th, 2015 at 14:58 | #56

    @Ikonoclast

    I am going to add just one more to the list of possibilities you have not adequately considered: maybe it is the case that governments now are as much (or, equivalently, as little) responsive to the wishes and expectations of the people as they were in the 1960s, but people’s expectations of governments are substantially different from what they were in the 1960s.

  57. Ikonoclast
    May 29th, 2015 at 15:12 | #57

    @J-D

    Or maybe:

    “When the moon is in the Seventh House
    And Jupiter aligns with Mars
    Then peace will guide the planets
    And love will steer the stars

    This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
    Age of Aquarius
    Aquarius! Aquarius!

    Harmony and understanding
    Sympathy and trust abounding
    No more falsehoods or derisions
    Golden living dreams of visions
    Mystic crystal revelation
    And the mind’s true liberation
    Aquarius! Aquarius!” – James Rado / Gerome Ragni.

  58. Ikonoclast
    May 29th, 2015 at 15:32 | #58

    Apropos of nothing much..

    “A mondegreen is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning.” – Wikipedia.

    The song title “IN A GADDA DA VIDA” by Iron Butterfly may well be a mondegreen. It might have been “In the Garden of Eden” originally. My personal belief is that it is or ought to have been; “In the Bhagavad Gita.”

    My question is this. Is it possible for conceptual mondegreens to occur? To misunderstand a concept and in this process come up with another new and viable concept? I happen to think I might be prone to conceptual mondegreens. Then I come up with ideas which I think stand in their own right. Of course, I could be entirely mistaken… as in barking mad. 🙂

  59. J-D
    May 29th, 2015 at 16:21 | #59

    @Ikonoclast

    Or maybe not. I read in Wikipedia: ‘ According to different astrologers’ calculations, approximated dates for entering the Age of Aquarius range from 1447 AD (Terry MacKinnell) to 3597 (John Addey).’ That’s a margin of error roughly as wide as the supposed length of the Age itself, which does not inspire a high degree of confidence in the reliability of the concept.

    Maybe I am too ready to jump to conclusions without adequate justification, but personally I am prepared to rule out the possibility of peace guiding the planets and love steering the stars; and likewise to rule out the possibility of an age without falsehoods or derisions.

  60. Tim Macknay
    May 29th, 2015 at 16:48 | #60

    @Ikonoclast
    You may not be the only one. It may even be the case that some of our culture’s most cherished principles and the foundations of our way of life are also mondegreens. Who knows?

  61. Ikonoclast
    May 29th, 2015 at 18:50 | #61

    @J-D

    We can agree on that. I was obviously being flippant in a relatively benign way to end what we both threatened to turn into an interminable argument.

  62. Ikonoclast
    May 29th, 2015 at 19:05 | #62

    @Tim Macknay

    Yes, the idea of the intellectual or conceptual (or religious or ideological) mondegreen is intriguing and thought-provoking. Any mondegreen could occur due to near-homophony, even a conceptual mondegreen. However conceptual modegreens could also occur in other fashions due to, for example, analogously or homologously suggestive aspects and mental associations (just guessing here).

    In (nearish) relation to this thought-arena it is worth noting the concept of mumpsimus.

    A mumpsimus is an action or utterance by a person who adheres to a routine, idea, custom, set of beliefs, or a certain use of language that has been shown to be unreasonable or incorrect.

    So mumpsimus is the old word for derp, in some respects at least. J.Q. likes to point out derp (justifiably too). I wonder if he would like to add mumpsimus to his lexicon (if it’s not already there). He’s accused me of mumpsimus once or twice. 😉

  63. Tim Macknay
    June 1st, 2015 at 23:09 | #63

    @Ikonoclast
    These are good words, Ikon. Keep ’em coming.

Comments are closed.