Thursday, October 07, 2004

 
Blah

Thursday, January 23, 2003

 
This blog has been permanently shut down. Farewell.

Monday, December 23, 2002

 
Elfinomics 101
In today's Wall Street Journal, Micheal Judge analyzes (link requires subscription) the economic consequences of the Santa shortage:

It takes much more than cherubic cheeks, a bright red suit and a weight problem to be Santa these days. Criminal background checks are merely the first in a long list of requirements to be met before one can so much as go ho-ho-ho at anyone under four-foot tall.

In the industrially-challenged English town of Wigan, one hears, new government guidelines on child protection have led to a six-week vetting process. Not surprisingly, there's a serious Santa shortage. "A few years ago you could ask someone's grandad to be Santa," store manager John Parker recently told the Wigan Evening Post. "But you are not allowed to do that anymore." (Perhaps not such a bad idea given the probable blood-alcohol level of the average Wigan grandad around the holidays.)

The beer-loving Brits (God bless 'em) aren't the only one's clamping down on St. Nick wannabes. From Australia to Anchorage, impersonating Kris Kringle has become a serious (and potentially lucrative) business. In our politically-correct, hyper-litigious culture, the risks associated with wearing a furry red costume and sitting a child atop your lap are simply too great for many would-be Santas.

But as in all markets, elfin or otherwise, the greater the risk the greater the potential return. Welcome to Elfinomics 101. Scarcity boosts prices. A smaller Santa supply (due to tighter regulations) combined with a growing demand (film manufacturers hiring them up for photo-ops in malls) is sending wages through the roof -- or in this case, up the chimney.

For aspiring Santas willing to endure the background checks and sensitivity training, there's some serious cash to be made in this environment. A properly vetted, professionally trained Santa working seven days a week can clear as much as $30,000 in a single Christmas season. Top Clauses (not the mall crawlers) working corporate and private gigs can rake in as much as $500 an hour.

Potential returns are so high, in fact, that professional Santa schools are a growing trend. One of the oldest and best established is called, appropriately enough, Santa School. Located in Calgary, Canada, it's run by longtime Santa-hand Victor Nevada, a dead ringer for Father Christmas who kindly offers a two-day, $300 course on the art of being the Jolly One.



Sunday, December 22, 2002

 
Rich Christmas
This gem from a letter writer in today's Australian:

WE should not accept disdain from those who hold Christmas to be too commercial.

It is perfectly moral to regard Christmas as a celebration of wealth. We celebrate wealth during the festive season through prolific shopping, offering and receiving gifts, indulging in splendid food, enjoying Christmas parties, decorating our homes and taking leisurely holidays.

True wealth can only be created by thinking and hard work, in countries which recognise individual rights. Those of us who understand that the symbol of the dollar is the symbol of the free mind, and therefore of the free man, would like to see Christmas be more commercial.

David Lee
Croydon, Vic


Right on.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

 
LJ Hooker: Home Invaders
My wife and I arrived home late last night after doing some Christmas shopping, only to find that our unit (which we rent) had been unlawfully entered during the day by scumbag employees of LJ Hooker Woden, who carried out an inspection without so much as a phonecall, let alone written notification or our permission, both of which are required under the terms of the lease agreement.

No wonder, I guess, that Australians regard real estate agents as the second least trustworthy group of individuals in the country, just behind car salesmen.


 
We Wish You a Merry Inefficiency, and a Happy Excess Burden
Wishing all bloggers and readers a happy holiday season.

But please don't go over the top. Think hard about those gifts that you purchase, because some economists think that Christmas is inefficient.

And, according to this piece in the Melbourne Age, women are to blame.



 
Sydney's Simulated Attack
Tim Blair notes that Sydney failed in its response to a simulated terrorist attack yesterday.

I'll say - the simulated terrorist attack was completely unrealistic. Where were the simulated civil libertarians, simulating a call for protecting the simulated legal rights of the simulated alleged terrorists once they were arrested? Where were the simulated wives and simulated families of the simulated alleged terrorists, bitterly simulating a plea for religious and cultural tolerance, and trying to convince us of their simulated husband's innocence, despite all simulated evidence to the contrary?

Not to mention the simulated protests by the simulated university students, pinkos and anti-American professional agitators, claiming that the simulated terrorists' ideology was one of "peace" and that it was all the fault of the evil system of free-market capitalism? And what about the simulated academics engaging in asinine discussions of the simulated terrorists' real objectives, and making bold predictions of the next simulated attack?

The simulation of the federal ALP was, however, pretty impressive - as was their simulated foreign affairs spokesman, who gave a simulated criticism of the Howard government's contingency plans to help the US liberate Iraq.

Oh, hang on, that was the real thing...


Tuesday, December 17, 2002

 
Albrechtsen's Carnell Takedown
Today Janet Albrechtsen puts the boot into Kate Carnell. Highlights include these beauties:

Carnell should be hiding in a dark corner ashamed of her political failures rather than looking for a promotion to the upper house on the hill.

and

Carnell represents everything that a conservative party should not be.

and:


At its core, conservatism values individual personal responsibility, a buck-stops-with-you, non-negotiable philosophy where government empowers people to determine their own success or failure and to assume responsibility either way.

John Howard, long derided as too dry by the wets and too wet by the dries, has masterfully navigated a course straight to the heart of middle Australia by articulating, even during his darkest political days, that Liberal vision.

Carnell is anathema to that vision. Her feel-good, no-responsibility principles have an English Tory party oblivion feel to them. One pundit in The Spectator recently described this "awful, desperate wish to be loved by people and, in return, to smother them with love in return; to assure them it's not their fault, whatever the problem is – even if it is their fault. To be a 'nice' party has become pretty much the sole aspiration; and what we are left with, then, is a frankly sinister collection of caring, smiling people in leopard-skin shoes with f--k-me heels."




 
Heydon joins High Court; ABC Goes Ballistic
The Australian reports that Dyson Heydon, a NSW Supreme Court judge and "a strong critic of judicial activism", has been appointed to the High Court by the Howard Government:

The former Rhodes Scholar narrowly defeated Brisbane-based Federal Court judge Susan Kiefel to succeed Justice Mary Gaudron.

...

Justice Heydon, a contemporary of Chief Justice Gleeson, recently gave a speech denouncing judicial activism – an act interpreted as an informal job application for the High Court.

The speech, at a dinner held by Quadrant magazine in Sydney, angered some of his judicial colleagues. Those present said Justice Heydon lashed out at the activism promoted by former chief justice Anthony Mason from 1987 to 1995.


Meanwhile, on the ABC's AM program this morning, journalists could not contain themselves, taking pains to point out on numerous occasions that Heydon - horror! - is not, in fact a woman, that he might be a "conservative with a capital C", and that this signals the "end" of judicial activism on the High Court. He thus fails three of the ABC's selection criteria. Many would say that this fact alone makes him the perfect candidate for the job.





Thursday, December 12, 2002

 
Sowell: Lott Has Got to Go
Thomas Sowell agrees that Trent Lott should resign as Senate majority leader:

If Senator Lott spoke without thinking about all this, that might be one thing. But he made the same asinine statements back in 1980 and apparently learned nothing from the adverse reactions it provoked then.

More important, such statements are going to live on as long as Trent Lott is leader of the Senate Republicans. Whatever the issue and whatever the election, Senator Lott's statements are going to be a recurring distraction from the serious concerns his party, the Senate, and the country will be confronting.

...

Back in 1998, Representative Bob Livingston was scheduled to become Speaker of the House, just as Senator Lott is now scheduled to become Majority Leader in the Senate. But when a personal embarrassment in his life became public, Congressman Livingston announced his resignation, in order to spare his party.

While Bob Livingston resigned from Congress, though he had violated no Congressional rule, all that Senator Lott would need to do to spare his party would be to step aside from the role of Majority Leader in the Senate. Will he do it? Time will tell.

A tin ear and a loose tongue are a bad combination for any publicly visible leader, and Senator Lott has shown both on other occasions and on other issues besides race.



Tuesday, December 10, 2002

 
Scientists Reach Consensus: It's Getting Warmer Cooler Warmer Cooler ..... ????
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Scientists have been warning that the Earth is slowly heating up, that the recent run of gentle winters in the United States is no fluke, but the warm-up to the big meltdown.

Now, however, comes a chilling prediction from some of the same experts. Before the climate gets balmier, they say, it could take a sudden turn toward the frigid - and stay that way for decades, if not centuries.

In the Northeast, subzero temperatures could become standard winter fare, filling rivers with ice chunks, cutting short the growing season, and altering bird migrations. The cold and snow of the last week would feel like spring break.

Behind that brutal scenario is a baffling ocean phenomenon that experts have watched with rising angst: an expanding mass of freshwater in the usually salty North Atlantic that has spread alarmingly in the last seven years. It now reaches south from Greenland to just off the coast of the Carolinas, an area of 15 million square miles.

If the buildup continues, they say, it could impede the Gulf Stream, a major climate-maker that transports warm air to northern latitudes in winter. Were that critical current to be slowed by the freshwater, let alone stopped, average winter temperatures in the Northeastern United States and in Western Europe could abruptly plummet 10 degrees - a change not experienced by anyone alive today. A five-degree drop would be in store for the rest of the States.



 
The Naked Hypocrisy of the ALP

The Sydney Morning Herald today reports on comments made by the shadow assistant treasurer, David Cox:

"This is a significant reason why many Australian families are under intense financial pressure. Peter Costello has his hand in every taxpayer's pocket."

"These figures call into question the underlying strength of the Government's budget position. The Government will be under financial pressure which will make the PM's capacity to offer tax cuts even more difficult."


The Howard government should not be immune from criticism when it comes to tax rates, but this is breathtaking hypocrisy from Labor: they opposed the Coalition's proposed income tax cuts in 1999, and opposed restraining spending in this year's budget. If Labor has plans to cut taxes, by all means let's hear them. At the moment, however, the ALP is part of the problem, not part of the solution.



Monday, December 09, 2002

 
Happy Human Rights Day
From the Independent Institute:

Many of those applauding last week's ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court - which opined that "the Second Amendment does not confer an individual right to own or possess arms" - may be observing Human Rights Day tomorrow.

Do we have a problem with that? Well, yes.

The Second Amendment's ratifiers supported the right to keep and bear arms because they believed, in essence, that gun rights support human rights. Firearm ownership, they believed, acted as an individual's insurance against despotic government. And although we are grateful for their foresight, we also owe a debt to older traditions from which they derived wise counsel.

Similar views, for example, were reflected in the English legal tradition, the precursor to the American legal system. As far back as the rule of Alfred (871-899), the English common law presumed that an armed populace was desirable for ensuring security. So entrenched was this belief that the bearing of arms was made a citizen's legal duty. However, as Englishmen sought greater political freedom, the monarchy came to feel threatened by an armed populace and sought to curtail private ownership of weapons. Both the Magna Carta (1215) and the English Declaration of Rights (1688) grew out of the struggle of armed Englishmen.

This theme can be heard even in western antiquity. Cicero, for example, warned that replacing the private ownership of weapons with standing armies was contributing to the fall of the Roman Empire. Earlier still, Plato and Aristotle, despite their profound differences, shared the belief that an armed populace was essential for preventing the imposition of tyranny.

For Human Rights Day to retain meaning, it should also embrace the tradition that has helped safeguard human rights - a tradition enshrined in the individual right protected by the Second Amendment.



Sunday, December 08, 2002

 
Parish's Pusillanimity

Ken Parish attacks John Whitley and myself for our article in Friday's Sydney Morning Herald:

How could the same report be interpreted in 2 such completely contrasting lights? Well, I can't be absolutely sure, because I haven't read the Mouzos-Reuter paper myself. However, I can make an educated guess. Whitley and Robson are referring to "crime rates" (that is overall crime rates), whereas Mouzos and Reuter studied the rate of crimes involving guns. Thus, Whitley and Robson highlight the fact that there hasn't been an overall drop in crime rates since the gun buyback, whereas Mouzos and Reuter point out that gun-related crimes have dropped significantly.

I suppose Whitley and Robson make a valid point, although I don't recall John Howard or anyone else ever claiming that restricting possession of semi-automatic weapons was going to miraculously reduce overall crime rates. All that was ever claimed was that mass murders with guns (like Port Arthur) could be reduced, and perhaps gun-related crime generally. That appears to be precisely what has happened, whatever spin gun lobby apologists like Whitley and Robson try to put on it. Whitley and Robson are using classic "straw man" debating tactics, and it does them no credit.


Well, Ken, you are simply wrong on this. We made this argument precisely because some of the most respected criminologists in the country had been trying to push these claims for years, and we were simply responding to their claims. For example, consider this story in the the Australian, Tuesday, 30 September 1997, on page 3:

Gun buyback aims at big cut in crime

By PENELOPE GREEN

MORE than 600,000 banned guns have been handed in to authorities and almost $293 million paid in compensation under the national gun buyback scheme, which crime experts believe could reduce serious crime by up to 20 per cent.

Bond University criminologist Professor Paul Wilson said it was probable the crime rate would drop by up to 20 per cent due to the substantial number of potentially deadly weapons that had been handed back in the amnesty.

The director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, agreed a change in gun ownership culture could result in a decrease in the number of weapons purchased and a drop in crime in the long-term. "If we've got a fairly stagnant number of gun owners and a growing population we might see a change over the next 10 years," he said.


We don't dispute the fact that gun related robberies have declined since 1993 - the data obviously show that, and this is obviously a good thing. We do, however, take issue with anyone who claims that this decline was caused by Howard's buyback scheme, since the data show that the decline was already underway well before 1996.

We also think that the goal of gun control measures should be to reduce overall crime rates - and criminologists obviously agree with us. But their predictions back in 1997 about the effects of the Howard measures on crime were simply wrong, and we felt that this needed pointing out.

Parish also writes:

Robson and Whitley's article may be seen as a last-ditch attempt by the gun lobby to forestall this outcome. Thankfully they failed. We can all now ignore them completely, which is precisely the attention their pathetic arguments deserve.

Get a grip, Ken. I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the "gun lobby". He also writes:

I once harboured the illusion that academics were meant to strive for detachment, dispassionate objectivity and analytical rigour. Whitley and Robson are both academic economists. Gary Sauer-Thompson has just blogged some interesting observations about neo-classical economics and its pretensions to truth, objectivity and scientific rigour.

If you read Parish's blog, you will see that he has a nasty habit of disagreeing with arguments for the sole reason that they rely on "neo-classical economics" or "neo-liberalism". As I have just shown, however, the hypothesis that there might be an effect of gun control on overall crime rates is also made by criminologists, who presumably aren't "neo-liberals" relying on "neo-classical economics". We disagree with the criminologists about the sign and perhaps the size of the change, but not about the proposition that guns and crime rates are somehow related.

Finally, Parish attacks us for our lack of "detachment, dispassionate objectivity and analytical rigour". That's pretty rich coming from Parish, who freely admits he hasn't even read the Mouzos/Reuter paper but goes ahead and comments on it anyway.

But just in case anyone else out there in the blogosphere wants to make similar claims, or thinks that we have misinterpreted the Mouzos/Reuter study, they should note that we sent our piece to both authors before the SMH published it. Mouzos wrote:

Professor Reuter and I have read your paper and we feel that you have not mis-stated anything from our book chapter.

and Reuter wrote:

I greatly appreciate your courtesy in showing us the essay before sending it out. It is indeed very professional in both tone and substance.









Monday, December 02, 2002

 
Whitlam's Legacy
I didn't write this letter in the Australian today, but I wish I had:

JULIAN LEESER exposes two myths about the Whitlam government (Opinion, 2/12).

A third myth is the Whitlam government was brought down by Sir John Kerr. The Whitlam government was brought down by economic law.

You cannot distribute more wealth than is created. You cannot print more money without increasing prices. You cannot go into deficit without pushing up interest rates. You cannot solve economic problems by government intervention. You cannot expand the welfare state without discouraging and disrupting production.

The Whitlam government ignored these basic truisms and paid the price. And its economic policies have become a permanent drag on the economy.

The purpose of the Whitlam government was the pursuit of "egalitarianism", ie socialism. Ironically, in its pursuit of a classless society the Whitlam government ended up creating three new classes – political, grasping and bureaucratic – and the hapless Australian taxpayer and the inflation ridden Australian consumer has been paying the price ever since.

Victor Diskordia
McKellar, ACT

Thursday, November 28, 2002

 
International Buy Know Nothing Day
The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the latest piece of idiocy to grip "consumer activists" - stop consuming:

Must have. Hot new look. Improved formula. Great new flavour. Latest styling. New shade. Buy one, get one free. The message is relentless: buy more stuff. It's hard to resist, with advertising slapped on everything from food-court tabletops to railway ticket barriers to the sky.

Few show any desire to resist. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, households spend an average of nearly $100 a day on goods and services. Some of it is unavoidable: food, shelter, utilities ... that cute beaded handbag for the Christmas do. Plenty though, is totally avoidable, especially at Christmas: candles, candle holders, wine glasses, those do-hickeys that click onto the glasses so guests don't pick up the wrong one.

What do you do if you want to get off the consumer merry-go-round? Could you get off, even for 24 hours? What would it be like to spend a day without spending?

But wait, today there is a way. It's International Buy Nothing Day, a brave attempt to wean people off so they can stop and think about what they buy and why, and if they can do without - or with less - for a day ... or even longer.

Since the first Buy Nothing Day in 1993, supporters say it has blossomed, with 30 countries celebrating consumer awareness and simpler living.


Sure, you morons - don't buy anything today. Just buy twice as much tomorrow. Or instead, just send your money to me - and I'll spend it for you. You'll feel better, because you won't be engaging in evil consumption, and I'll feel better, because...I'll be enagaging in evil consumption.

A Pareto improvement if ever there was one.




 
Commanding Heights: I Get Results

A few months ago I blogged on the television series Commanding Heights, which is based on a book on globalization originally written by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, and which was recently screened by PBS in the United States.

I wrote to the ABC and SBS to try to get them to run it, and now that has paid off. The SBS has decided to screen the six part series, starting this Sunday at 8.35pm. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

 
Dry: In Defence of Economic Freedom

John Hyde's Dry: In Defence of Economic Freedom (recently published by the Institute of Public Affairs) has just arrived on my desk. If the Introduction is anything to go by, this should be an excellent book:

Federal politicians who had once led the charge for economic freedom and generously supported a reforming Labor Government have reverted towards, but not yet to the habits of, the Fraser years.

Our changed fortunes did not come about by chance and it is clear that the gains could all too easily be squandered.

This is an account of how attitudes and public policies were changed in Australia. It recounts the journey of an ideal concerning the proper conduct of public policy—its travails, considerable successes and partial setback—during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Many people played parts in the drama. The unfolding story tells what an ill-defined but, nevertheless, identifiable group, which I call ‘the Dries’, believed, learned, did and failed to do. It shows that argument, properly used in a liberal democratic society, can bring about changes by legitimate, peaceable means, and that ‘the good fight’ is worth the effort.



 
Happy Holidays: Giving Thanks for Private Property Rights
November 28th is Thanksgiving Day. According to Holidays on the Net:

In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.

The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.


According to journalist Tom Bethell, however, the real story of the Pilgrims is one of the success of private property rights. In his book, The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the Ages, Bethell details how, under communal land stewardship, the Pilgrim community was afflicted by an "unwillingness to work, by confusion and discontent, by a loss of mutual respect, and by a prevailing sense of slavery and injustice":


THE COMMUNAL EXPERIMENT

The Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod in November 1620 with 101 people on board. About half of them died within the first few months, probably of scurvy, pneumonia, or malnutrition. It is not easy for us to grasp the hardships that the first settlers in this country experienced, even in New England, where the native American Indians were relatively friendly.

By the spring of 1623, the population of Plymouth can have been no larger than 150. But the colony was still barely able to feed itself, and little cargo was returning for the investors in England. On one occasion newcomers found that there was no bread at all, only fish or a piece of lobster and water. “So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery,” Bradford wrote in his key passage on property.

Having tried what Bradford called the “common course and condition”—the communal stewardship of the land demanded of them by their investors—Bradford reports that the community was afflicted by an unwillingness to work, by confusion and discontent, by a loss of mutual respect, and by a prevailing sense of slavery and injustice. And this among “godly and sober men.” In short, the experiment was a failure that was endangering the health of the colony.

Historian George Langdon argues that the condition of early Plymouth was not “communism” but “an extreme form of exploitative capitalism in which all the fruits of men’s labor were shipped across the seas.” In this he echoes Samuel Eliot Morison, who claims that “it was not communism . . . but a very degrading and onerous slavery to the English capitalists that was somewhat softened.” Notice that this does not agree with the dissension that Bradford reports, however. It was between the colonists themselves that the conflicts arose, not between the colonists and the investors in London. Morison and Langdon conflate two separate problems. On the one hand, it is true that the colonists did feel “exploited” by the investors because they were eventually expected to surrender to them an undue portion of the wealth they were trying to create. It is as though they felt that they were being “taxed” too highly by their investors—at a 50 percent rate, in fact.

But there was another problem, separate from the “tax” burden. Bradford’s comments make it clear that common ownership demoralized the community far more than the tax. It was not Pilgrims laboring for investors that caused so much distress but Pilgrims laboring for other Pilgrims. Common property gave rise to internecine conflicts that were much more serious than the transatlantic ones. The industrious (in Plymouth) were forced to subsidize the slackers (in Plymouth). The strong “had no more in division of victuals and clothes” than the weak. The older men felt it disrespectful to be “equalized in labours” with the younger men.

This suggests that a form of communism was practiced at Plymouth in 1621 and 1622. No doubt this equalization of tasks was thought (at first) the only fair way to solve the problem of who should do what work in a community where there was to be no individual property: If everyone were to end up with an equal share of the property at the end of seven years, everyone should presumably do the same work throughout those seven years. The problem that inevitably arose was the formidable one of policing this division of labor: How to deal with those who did not pull their weight?

The Pilgrims had encountered the free-rider problem. Under the arrangement of communal property one might reasonably suspect that any additional effort might merely substitute for the lack of industry of others. And these “others” might well be able-bodied, too, but content to take advantage of the communal ownership by contributing less than their fair share. As we shall see, it is difficult to solve this problem without dividing property into individual or family-sized units. And this was the course of action that William Bradford wisely took.

PROPERTY IS PRIVATIZED

Bradford’s history of the colony records the decision:

At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number.

So the land they worked was converted into private property, which brought “very good success.” The colonists immediately became responsible for their own actions (and those of their immediate families), not for the actions of the whole community. Bradford also suggests in his history that more than land was privatized.


UPDATE: James Robbins at the National Review Online also writes today on a similar theme, urging readers to give thanks for "the choices of freedom over rule, property over collectivization, the liberty of the individual human spirit over the dictates of the enlightened few."




 
Food Industry and Sugar Growers Oppose Sugar Package
In today's Australian, Dick Wells, chief executive of the Australian Food and Grocery Council writes:

The federal Government intends to place a tax on sugar in Australia to fund a restructuring package for Queensland's sugar industry.

In its attempts to defend this policy faux pas, federal ministers have made numerous remarkable claims. They have claimed the tax is not a tax but a levy, that it will be uncomplicated, that it won't affect employment, that it won't affect consumers. It is as if the sugar tax is a magic pudding, generating $120 million out of thin air.

Let's be clear about this. The "sugar levy" is a 6 per cent input tax on sugar. It defies the Government's own guidelines on what a primary industry levy should look like and bears no resemblance to the 62 now operating. These were all requested or backed by those paying the levy to deliver key services back into their primary industry – mostly research and development, marketing or disease management.

...

In a bizarre paradox, a sugar tax may actually hurt most those it is supposed to help. If food manufacturers move plants overseas, the raw sugar industry will be forced to sell its product to more distant and potentially less profitable markets.

If the sugar industry in north Queensland needs assistance, this should be done without damaging specific sectors of the Australian economy. To suggest the assistance package is in jeopardy if the Senate refuses to pass it brings into question the Government's commitment in the first place.

A sugar tax is a 1950s solution. It is bad policy and should not be made law.



Meanwhile, the mighty Townsville Bulletin reports that growers are unhappy about the tax as well:

More than 2000 angry sugarcane growers took to the streets of Townsville yesterday in protest at their industry's treatment at the hands of the State and Federal governments.

Their message was loud and clear: Peter Beattie, Tom Barton, John Anderson, Warren Truss, Peter Lindsay and Ian Macdonald and a swag of other mainstream political suits were "out". This season the only politician who is "in" is the cowboy hat and Wrangler jeans-wearing Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter.

Former politicians Ted Lindsay, once the federal Labor member for Herbert, and Max Menzel, once the state National Party member for Mulgrave, are also "in". Both marched at the front yesterday and both spoke in support of growers at the rally in Anzac Park.

The growers have rejected the Federal Government's $150 million rescue package for the industry and have dismissed the much-vaunted Hildebrand Report as being written for the benefit of millers and manufacturers at the expense of growers.


My favourite part of this story is:

Cane harvester salesman and rally architect Bill Micola shouted that "without the sugar industry, half of Townsville will die".

Since Townsville is already half-dead, I guess that means that without the sugar industry it will be 100 per cent dead.

The story also shows that old politicians, unlike General Douglas MacArthur, never even fade away:

Ted Lindsay urged growers not to abandon the fight and said Canberra was "sneaky".

For those of you who are unfamiliar with North Queensland politics (which, I am guessing, is just about everyone) Ted "Eamonn the Demon" Lindsay was the ALP member for Herbert (the Townsville electorate) during the Hawke-Keating years (1983-1996). Prior to the 2001 election, Herbert was one of the most marginal electorates in Australia (You can check the AEC here - the 1998 election result was ALP: 49.90% Lib: 50.10% - a difference of only 150 votes).

Lindsay should know about "sneakiness" in Canberra with regard to the sugar industry, because in 1991, when he was the sitting member, import tariffs were reduced from $115 to $ 75 per tonne, and in 1995 the tariff was abolished completely.

(Note: The Townsville Bulletin's story fails to mention that growers were lobbying for a 25 per cent tax instead of the Howard Government's "sneaky" 6 per cent)

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