Browsing articles in "rural"
Friday 24th July 2015 - 1:43 pm
Comments Off on Shorten campaigns on climate change

Shorten campaigns on climate change

by Alan Thornhill

Bill Shorten was applauded by Labor delegates in Melbourne today when he outlined his plans to tackle climate change.

But – opening the party’s annual conference – the Opposition Leader said nothing about his plan to change the party’s policy on turning back asylum seeker boats.

Instead he attacked the government’s response to climate change.

” Mr Abbott’s society of flat-earthers talk a lot of nonsense about Labor policies – but they’re right about one thing,” Mr Shorten said.

“There is, absolutely, a clear-cut choice between Labor and the Liberals on renewable energy.

“This Coalition government has done everything in their power to try and destroy Australia’s share in one of the world’s fastest growing industries.”

The Opposition Leader said:” Fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have fallen in this century.

“2014 was the warmest year in recorded history.

“The evidence is in, the science is settled.

“Climate change is not ‘absolute crap’, it is an inescapable fact.

“And if we take a do-nothing approach, there will be more extreme weather.

More severe storms, more aggressive fires, more dangerous floods, longer and more damaging droughts.

“Our farmers will face greater hardship.

“Our coastal homes will be invaded by rising seas.

“The infrastructure cost will be hundreds of billions of dollars.

‘”We can rebuild flooded cities once every century.

“We can rebuild fire-ravaged bushland every half-century.

“But we cannot do it every decade,” Mr Shorten said.

” The Abbott-Hockey attacks on renewables are grotesque – and the consequences have been devastating.

“Last year, around the world, investment in renewables rose by 16 per cent.

“In China alone, up by 33 per cent.

“In Australia, down by 88 per cent. ”

Mr Shorten said:”Only a Labor Government can save the renewable energy industry now.

Only Labor can restore the confidence and certainty this government has smashed.

“This is why, in our platform we must set an ambitious new goal for renewable energy.

“By 2030, our aim is for renewable energy to generate 50 per cent of Australia’s electricity. ”

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Tuesday 14th July 2015 - 12:33 pm
Comments Off on PM neglecting cattle trade:Labor

PM neglecting cattle trade:Labor

by Alan Thornhill

New problems in Australia’s live cattle trade with Indonesia have left the Federal government floundering, according to Labor.

The problems began when Indonesian authorities told Australian cattle producers that Indonesia will accept only 50,000 cattle between July and September, compared with 250,000 the previous quarter.

The Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon, described this as a massive reduction in the number of cattle being exported to Indonesia and said the new cap will have a huge impact on Australian cattle producers.

And he said:”Cattle farmers are suffering while Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce are bickering.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said Mr Joyce’s silence on the subject had been deafening.

“The Agriculture Minister has not been seen nor heard since Greg Hunt whispered his Shenhua mine approval under the cover of the release of the discredited agriculture white paper,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Joyce is campaigning against construction of the proposed, Chinese-owned Shenhua Watermarket coal mine in his electorate, even though it has won approval from the Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt.

So far, neither Mr Abbott nor Mr Hunt has commented on Mr Fitzgibbon’s claim.

“It’s time for Barnaby Joyce to stop sulking and stand up for cattle producers,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Monday 13th July 2015 - 5:18 pm
Comments Off on PM accuses media of “hyperventilating”

PM accuses media of “hyperventilating”

by Alan Thornhill

Tony Abbott dismissed talk of an early election today, describing it as hyperventilation.

The Prime Minister was replying to a reporter’s question, while visiting a farm near Goulburn in New South Wales, to promote the government’s White Paper on Agriculture.

The reporter had asked Mr Abbott if he is planning an early election.

Mr Abbott replied:” there’s always a lot of hyperventilating, if I may say so, from the media about will there or won’t there be an election any time soon.

“Can I just say that we’ve had the best fortnight in the life of this Parliament.

” We’ve just had a fortnight where a lot of legislation was passed, where some $14 billion worth of much needed savings were realised through sensible decisions at last by the Greens and by the Labor Party to support Government initiatives.

“Why would you want to close the Parliament down just when it’s starting to work?”

Mr Abbott also said his Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is “absolutely” safe in that position, even though he is campaigning against a coal mining project, that the Federal government is likely to approve in his electorate.

A reporter had asked if Mr Joyce was safe in his job.

Mr Abbott replied:”Absolutely.

“He is doing an outstanding job.

“He is passionate, he is committed, he is knowledgeable

“And this White Paper is a tribute to his good work,” the Prime Minister said.

Monday 13th July 2015 - 7:25 am
Comments Off on While we’re worrying about wind farms

While we’re worrying about wind farms

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s carbon heavy financial system could collapse under its own weight, according to a new study.

The warning is contained in a discussion paper, “Australia’s Financial System and Climate Risk”, published by the Climate Institute.

The study warns that Australia’s financial system could be destabilised by both direct climate change impacts and secondary effects, such as a slump in demand for carbon-intensive exports.

It examines general risks posed to all financial systems, and considers which risks could be particularly relevant to the Australian economy and financial system, through our broader economy.

Specifically, it examines risks to superannuation funds, mortgages, and our place in global capital markets.

The study then puts a case for a comprehensive assessment by financial authorities.

Its purpose?

To ensure the system is resilient to climate-related shocks.

“We know that climate change is already affecting our economy, and that some companies and financial institutions are already waking up to the implications for their own businesses,” John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute said.

“Yet many others are still forging ahead as though climate change, and the economic changes needed to deal with it, will have no impact at all on their plans.

“There’s a risk that poor policy signalling, delayed action and mis-reading by markets could lead to a messy transition that threatens the stability of our financial system.

“This risk deserves closer examination by our policy makers and financial regulators.

“The question is whether the entire financial system can adapt in an orderly way to climate change and related shifts in policy, society and technology.”

Mr Connor noted that the past two years have seen unexpected shifts in many markets.

These had included slumping value of pure-play coal companies’ shares; declining resources demand from China and plummeting costs of solar panels.

“It has also seen investors – particularly large, long-term investors – increasingly incorporating climate risk as a material factor in their strategies,” Mr Connor said.

“More than 190 countries have committed to keeping warming to less than 2 degrees,” he added.

“With major economies like the US and China putting forward initial long-term emissions reduction targets and accelerating climate action ahead of the Paris climate talks at the end of this year, the direction of travel is clear.

” Nations and mainstream economic institutions and organisations now recognise that the global economy must be zero carbon before the end of this century.”

Mr Connor said governments of the world’s biggest countries, including Australia, had already acknowledged that this risk deserves formal scrutiny.

In April the G20 had asked the global Financial Stability Board to consider stranded asset risks and the “carbon bubble”.

” This is recognition that climate change has unique characteristics which can pose a threat to financial stability,” Mr Connor said.

“However the FSB work will not take account of every country’s particular characteristics,” he warned.

Financial authorities at a national level in many countries, such as the Bank of England, are taking concrete steps towards determining how they should guard against climate risk in their respective jurisdictions.

“The sub-prime bubble which led to the global financial crisis may offer insights, but there is no precedent for climate change in financial history which we can draw upon,” Mr Connor said.

“However we do know climate impacts are already costing us, and those costs will continue to grow.

“These are complex issues; it will take time and effort to work through them.

“This is why it’s essential to begin looking at them now.”

Wednesday 8th July 2015 - 8:10 am
Comments Off on Jay’s new tune in Canberra

Jay’s new tune in Canberra

by Alan Thornhill

Jay Weatherill is coming to Canberra today as a man with a plan.

And the South Australian Premier was prepared to speak about it, in a statement early today.

Revealing a few highlights, from the speech he will deliver at the National Press Club at noon, Mr Weatherill said:” …people across Australia want good public hospitals and schools, they want good roads and housing.

“… they care less about which level of Government is delivering it.

” Reform of our Federation is about ensuring the relationship between the Commonwealth and the States is best placed to help us build a new economy for this nation.

“…one that is open and high growth.

“It is about how we can assure the best quality of services in our community and develop a highly skilled workforce.

“It is about having a taxation system that doesn’t punish those who want to grow and invest,but also paying for high-quality services that are delivered fairly across the country.

“Today I will be focusing on the areas of health, education, infrastructure and housing, providing practical examples of how these outcomes can be advanced.”

“The Commonwealth has torn up $80 billion in health and education agreements with the States.

“Our proposals will help to fund this gap.

“But we also need to find new measures to create revenue.”

Mr Weatherill will say South Australia is willing to work constructively with the other States and the Federal Government to deliver on the vision of these reforms.

“I will always fight for South Australia’s best interests, but I believe the public has grown tired of the endless blame game between levels of government,” he said.

“That is why I am bringing constructive ideas to the table, and I will be advancing these ideas at the COAG Leaders’ Retreat later this month.”

Position papers on the four key areas will be released after the speech.

Saturday 4th July 2015 - 1:03 pm
Comments Off on PM releases new White Paper

PM releases new White Paper

by Alan Thornhill

Tony Abbott launched his government’s new White Paper on agriculture today.

In doing so, the Prime Minster said farming has a strong future in Australia.

In a joint statement with the Federal Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, Mr Abbott said:”The Commonwealth Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is an investment in our farmers and our competitive strengths in agriculture.
“This is a vital part of our plan to build a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia.
“A strong agriculture sector contributes to a strong economy—and that means more jobs, more exports, higher incomes and better services to the community.
“We’re determined to make the sector even more competitive and to deliver practical actions that will keep our farmers and farming families profitable and resilient,” Mr Abbott said.
“We are lowering tax, cutting red and green tape, building infrastructure, encouraging trade, developing northern Australia, and supporting business to innovate and create jobs,” he added.

The paper was immediately welcomed by the National Farmers’ Federation.

The Federation’s President, Brent Finlay said the paper looks to create a stronger business environment for farmers and generate better returns at the farm gate.

“This is an important day for Australian agriculture,” Mr Finlay said.

“After almost two years, and more than 700 submissions, we finally have a clear commitment from government to foster a stronger, more prosperous and vibrant agriculture sector.”

Wednesday 10th June 2015 - 1:30 pm
Comments Off on Who’s eating their vegies?

Who’s eating their vegies?

by Alan Thornhill

Just had a high energy snack that is, perhaps, a little low in nutritional value?

Well, you are not alone.

The Bureau of Statistics. which has been checking up on our eating habits, reports:” All Australians love treat foods no matter where they live.”

“In every State and Territory, Australians love their treat or discretionary food – food high in energy but low in nutritional value,” its report adds.

However the Bureau also said the results of its Australian Health Survey show different eating habits for each State and Territory.

The Bureau’s Louise Gates said the survey report tells us Australians obtain 35 per cent of their energy from discretionary foods.”

She said Tasmanians and Northern Territorians obtained the highest proportion of energy in this way – at 38 per cent -while Canberrans had the lowest score at 33 per cent.”

The survey also showed that people, in the Northern Territory, trying to quench their thirst, in hot weather, recorded the nation’s highest level of soft drink consumption, at 33 per cent.

Soft drink was least popular in Canberra where only 23 per cent of people reported drinking it

“Tasmanians were the most fond of confectionary with over a third – 37 per cent – consuming it,” the Burreau said.

Snack foods were most popular in New South Wales where 16 per cent of people ate them.

However Tasmanians also had the highest daily intake of vegetables, with 9 per cent meeting the recommended daily intake.

Only 5 per cent in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Canberra, could match that virtuous achievement.

“However, Tasmanians were least likely to meet the recommendations for fruit (48 per cent), while people from New South Wales and Canberra were the most likely (54 per cent),” the Bureau added.

“We also found 22 per cent of people in the Northern Territory ate fish making them the most likely state or territory to eat fish but least likely to eat fruit (53 per cent).” said Ms Gates

“Tasmanians on the other hand were least likely to eat fish (13 per cent), however they matched South Australians as the most likely to enjoy cheese (36 per cent compared to 32 per cent of all of Australians).

“Canberrans were most likely to enjoy a glass of wine (22 per cent) while in the Northern Territory, beer is the alcoholic drink of choice (21 per cent).

“Adults in Western Australia were most likely to have an alcoholic beverage (39 per cent) and Victorians and Tasmanians were least likely (30 per cent).”

Thursday 28th May 2015 - 8:36 am
Comments Off on Australian farmers state their case

Australian farmers state their case

by Alan Thornhill

Australian farmers are still looking – anxiously – for an ambitious, fair, and comprehensive deal through the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Pacific rim nations were to have continued talks on the TPP this week in Guam.

However that plan struck delays due to the inability of the US to secure Fast Track legislation.

Chile and Japan refuse to finalise details without Fast Track approval.

This unprecedented move further puts the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a highly secretive 12-country agreement, under a cloud.

The US President Barrack Obama had surprised many observers by winning the approval of the US Senate for these negotiations to proceed.

Now Australia’s biggest farm organisation, the National Farmers’ Federation, has joined similar bodies from three other countries, in setting out what they want from the TPP, in a joint statement.

The key words in their statement are ” stable and open market access.”

The statement, also signed by major US, Canadian and New Zealand farm bodies says the farmers they represent “remain united in their call for a modern trade agreement that includes meaningful and comprehensive market access opportunities for agriculture and agri-food.”

The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Australian National Farmers’ Federation, and the Federated Farmers of New Zealand, all put their names to the statement.

It said:” Together, they represent hundreds of thousands of farmers, producers, processors and exporters who, in turn, employ millions of workers across the TPP region.

“Our agricultural sectors and the jobs they provide depend on a thriving network of export markets,” Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance said.

“By creating stable and open market access, the TPP’s potential to stimulate economic growth is incredible.

” A comprehensive agreement would encourage regional supply chains with production and processing occuring where competitive advantages exist.

“However, without a plurilateral agreement, the TPP could actually reduce market access for agri-food exporters.

“It would be very negative if some TPP countries provide preferential market access to select countries and not others.”

“Despite the fact that agriculture is traditionally regarded as a sensitive subject in trade talks, negotiators must uphold a high level of ambition in order to realise the TPP’s broader objectives of opening up trade throughout one of the world’s key economic centres,” Mr Innes said.

The NFF President Mr Brent Finlay backed that argument.

He said. “Australian farmers are of the view that this agreement must deliver significant outcomes across the sector and thus across the economy.

“Agriculture has always been a strong supporter of trade and the benefits it brings across the broader community and the TPP must be seen in that light,” he said.

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Alan Thornhill

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.

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