Monday, June 28, 2010

Oz Bloggers on the Sudden End of Kevin Rudd

My post for Global Voices: Australia: Dramatic Fall of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Australian bloggers give their views of last week's events.
Not the usual suspects. Even has a 'Pome'.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Decline and Fall: Vale Kevin Rudd

When we left for five weeks in South America in mid-April, Kevin Rudd seemed to be cruising. The economy was performing spectacularly. Even the battered Climate Change strategy was still on the horizon – we’d get some sort of deal with the Greens after the election. Despite Tony ‘the jock’ Abbott’s energy, the opposition were still looking like losers. The loudest critic was the Victorian Labor Premier John Brumby over the proposed health reforms.

While we were away the Prime Minister apparently went into self-destruct mode. The Emissions Trading Scheme was scuttled. The budget was judged as lack-lustre but politically safe. Then we heard the first mention of the Resource Super Profits Tax on BBC World News. The word courageous seemed too weak. Despite the tax’s obvious merits, a Whitlamesque fight to the end with the multinational miners was the last thing we needed.

Not long after touching down in Melbourne, I attended my local ALP branch. In an election year, there were only two others in attendance: one a student in his 20s; the other pushing forty years party membership like myself. The gloom matched the fast approaching winter. Thinking that the health reform was still unresolved, I was surprised to hear that agreement had been reached with the Labor States and only Western Australia were holding out. A big win for Rudd, I incorrectly assumed.

This sense of the government moving on to the next issue with business either unresolved or unheralded became a regular theme.

In the month since then, Kevin Rudd imploded. He became post caricature or satire. The more he said, the more voters stopped listening. Even in my extended Labor family, it was hard to find anyone who was not depressed by his seeming paralysis. Or his inability to articulate a way forward.

The government had lost the environment vote and not all of it was coming back in preferences. It seemed impossible to sell the company tax cut and improved superannuation that are the flipside of the mining tax. The hypocrisy of the taxpayer funded advertising submerged the debate about the merits of the proposal.

A relentless media campaign against Rudd and general fixation on opinion polls was extremely enervating. There was little solace that most polls still had Labor in front. We were presented with the bogey of winning the two-party-preferred vote but losing the marginals. 1998 revisited. Hints that party polling confirmed this, added to the gloom.

The PM had lost not just the mainstream media, the natural allies of the mega miners and conservatives, but also faced a very disillusioned blogosphere. The infamous internet filter wasn’t helping either. Ironically Minister Conroy’s peace deal with Telstra felt like the beginning of resurgence. A government that was being portrayed as doing nothing but spend money had also squeezed Paid Parental Leave through the Senate. Tony Abbott’s expensive alternative had split the Liberals and Nationals but no one seemed to care.

I couldn’t watch the ABC’s Australian Story on Monday night promoting Julia despite my admiration for her. The trap was set. Still a challenge seemed unthinkable.

Today was a very sad day. Kevin is a compassionate person with a strong social conscience. He had exhausted himself at Copenhagen trying to get a better result on combating global warming.

The political cynic in me feels that the billionaires and right wing factionistas are running the country. Little consolation that they have produced a feamle PM from the left – something the rest of us would have found extremely difficult to achieve.

The political realist feels that today’s events were unavoidable. That the nerd experiment in leadership had failed. Like Gough, Kevin was just too far removed from the rest of us, at both an intellectual and an interpersonal level.

The political idealist hopes that Julia Gillard will make one of our best Prime Ministers. Despite a heavy heart, like many of my relatives I do feel re-invigorated tonight. We’re ready to defend our piece of Labor history. The vandals are at the gate.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Warren Truss for Deputy Prime Minister. Not!

The ALP is leading the coalition for the fourth poll in a row. Perhaps we can get back to some real political debate now. Most of the opposition spin is about Rudd doing nothing. It is Nationals leader Warren Truss's (who?) only line. And in a week that gave us Paid Parental Leave and the Broadband deal with Telstra.

Barnaby Joyce should be figuratively horsewhipped by the media for his attack on Rudd's whoring with pimp pollsters. Is that the only way he can keep himself in the spotlight?

Lenore Taylor's remarks on ABC Breakfast this morning, that as Rudd and Swan were planning their economic stimulus package, the media were consumed with Costello's leadership ambitions, were very revealing. It is hard to take the mainstream media seriously, given their lack of depth or understanding.

Today's headlines should be about the split in the coaltion over parental leave, given their decision to oppose Tony Abbott's proposed scheme.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

India Proposes Resources Windfall Tax

Thanks to Tom R at Cafe Whispers for this link:

NEW DELHI -- India's Mines Ministry has proposed a windfall tax on non-fuel minerals such as iron ore to claim part of what the government considers high profits earned by the mining sector.

"Our proposal is to levy a windfall tax on domestic sales as well as exports of minerals when their (prices) are substantially higher than the cost of production," Mines Minister B.K. Handique said in an interview.

On the lines of a similar proposal in Australia, the new tax is also meant to raise additional revenue for the government. But unlike in the former, India has a predominantly captive production model where mining leases are mostly given out to producers with their own plants to make finished products such as steel.
India Proposes Windfall Tax on Non-Fuel Minerals

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Reflecting on Obama's Presidency So Far

Crosspost from Global Voices:

Barack Obama has cancelled a trip to Australia for the second time this year, because of the oil spill crisis. Last time the reason was health care legislation. In his absence bloggers have been assessing his role and his performance as President. These are reflective pieces rather than partisan knee-jerks.
Australians Reflect on Obama's Presidency So Far

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Mining Windfalls A Taxing Problem

Crosspost from Th!nk3: Developing World 'Mining Windfalls A Taxing Problem'

Two of Australia's richest people, Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart, led a protest demonstration on Wednesday against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The big end of town took to the streets in Perth.

There is a major political battle raging between the government and the Mining companies over a proposed Resources Rent Tax, popularly known as the Resources Super Profits Tax.

Meanwhile in Mongolia:

The decision by the government of Mongolia to allow Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines Ltd to develop the Oyu Tolgoi mine has caused civil unrest in the country because of a number of claimed legal irregularities in the agreement (not least the lack of a full Environmental Impact Assessment and a detailed water study).
Update on Rio Tinto at Oyu Tolgoi
Rio Tino issued a response to criticism:
Similarly at Oyu Tolgoi there has been a high level of consistent, genuine engagement with local communities, herders and the government. Projects of this nature will attract objections, and we expect them as a sign of a healthy civil society.
The full text is available here. Their promotional video from 2009 shows what's at stake.

Locals were concerned not only about environmental issues. They also claim that the agreement between their government and Rio Tinto/Ivanhoe Mines will not provide a fair return to the Mongolian people:
On 4 April 2010 NGOs and 200 representatives from 18 'aimags' (provinces) gathered in Sukhbaatar Square, the main square in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital, calling on the Government to respect its election promises and accusing it of selling out the country to foreign mining interests.

... The NGOs are also asking Professor Ruggie to review the fairness of the benefit sharing arrangements of the Investment Agreement so as to ensure that the project helps eradicate poverty in Mongolia.
Mongolian NGOs appeal to UN over Oyu Tolgoi
It seems that a windfall tax was sticking point last year:
An investment agreement for the first major mining project in the country is expected to act as a blueprint for billions of dollars worth of future investments in other resources projects.

... the parliament agreed to scrap the windfall profits tax on copper and gold, setting the stage for an agreement, miners Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe said in separate statements.

The windfall tax, introduced in 2006, and a demand for greater government ownership in strategic projects, have been key sticking points between the government and investors, delaying the progress of several investment proposals despite a mining boom in recent years.
Mongolia clears way for Oyu Tolgoi mine
These days everything seems connected. Must be galloping globalisation. There has been a lot of talk about resource taxes creating a sovereign risk. That's the risk that government actions pose for mining ventures. The real risk may well be to sovereign States and their ability to stand up for their long-term national interests.

Full post

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tony Abbott: New Big Dinosaur

Tony Abbott video from Rebekkak971 (thanks to The Orstrahyun)

15 reasons not to vote for Tony Abbott

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Climate Change: Bonn Chance

If you think that Climate Change has completely disappeared from the radar, don't despair. Here is some of the latest from the blogosphere.

Firstly, from and tcktcktck, a live feed from the UNFCCC talks in Bonn:

Watch live video from OneClimate on

Secondly, US CAN Climate Action Network are tracking how countries are responding to their Copenhagen Accord commitments.

Countries Engaged with Copenhagen Accord
This graphic automatically updates as countries respond.

A detailed table is available on their website.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

RSP Tax: It's Going To Ruin Us - Not!

A video gem about the Resources Super Profits Tax (thanks to tigtog at Hoyden via Larvatus Prodeo for the link) from the CFMEU:

Pass it on.

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World Environment Day

Rwanda is the Global host for this year's World Environment Day.

Cross post from Th!nk3: Developing World:

To celebrate, a series of videos from down under that focuses on the developing world.

It's from EngageMedia 'Social justice and environmental videos from the Asia Pacific'

WED 2010: Not Just About Polar Bears and Gorillas

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