Why I Hang Farther To The Left Than Bob Brown

18 Aug

Got your attention with that headline?

Good.

Because on the topic of Australia’s last remaining real source of wealth – “our” natural resources – and, on the directly related topic of who should own them, you may be shocked to learn that your humble blogger hangs waaaaaaaay way out there on the so-called “left”.

With the likes of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Russian Prime Minister and former President Vladimir Putin.

And the government of Norway – which consistently ranks as the happiest nation on earth, and, the most prosperous.

[You see, when you are not beholden to group-think, and the false Left vs Right paradigm, then you can author what the Fairfax media called a “tribute site”, dedicated to supporting the debt-and-deficit views of a so-called “extremist” “far right” politician, and yet, hold “far left” views on other specific issues.  Independent, issue-by-issue critical thinking is a wonderful thing.]

Explanation to follow.

First though, a little background via this media release from Senator Barnaby Joyce, 17 August 2011 (my emphasis added):

Some towns are more equal than others

The Queensland Labor party obviously believes that all towns are equal but some towns are more equal than others.

I note that Queensland Natural Resources Minister Rachael Nolan is already backtracking from the Labor party’s decision to only ban mining within 2 kilometres of towns with more than 1000 people.

Ms Nolan also attacked the Federal Coalition saying that:

This government does not believe that landholders are entitled to the resources beneath the ground. They have never been and to change that now would represent a massive windfall to the agricultural class, to the detriment of those who own the resources now – that is, all of us.*

Ms Nolan is wrong. It is concerning that a Minister does not seem to understand the basic aspects of her portfolio.

Farmers in Queensland owned the petroleum and gas resources under their property until 1915, when the Queensland Government took them off them to protect the resources for the crown during World War I. From my latest investigations I think World War I has finished but the resources were never handed back to farmers.

To quote from section 4 of the Petroleum Act 1915:

… it is hereby declared that petroleum on or below the surface of all land in Queensland, whether alienated in fee simple or not so alienated from the Crown, and if so alienated whensoever alienated, is and always has been the property of the Crown.

Resources have been taken in other states in even more recent times, with the last being the NSW Coal Acquisition Act in 1981.

If Ms Nolan does not believe me, perhaps she would believe former NSW Premier Neville Wran, who stated in his second reading speech on the Coal Acquisition Bill 1981:

The proposal is not without precedent. In 1938 a Tory government in the United Kingdom acquired all coal then in private ownership. In 1953 the Menzies Government resumed all minerals, then in private ownership, in the Northern Territory.

In 1971 South Australia followed suit and acquired privately owned minerals. All petroleum in New South Wales was vested in the Crown without compensation, by the Petroleum Act, 1955 …

* Ludlow, M., Dunckley, M and Kerr, P. 2011, ‘Mining ban expands’, Australian Financial Review, p. 5.

As a fine, upstanding, and outstanding representative of the interests of the rural community, Senator Joyce advocates strongly for the rights of farmers and rural landowners. Especially of late, in their critical challenges with mining interests seeking to explore for Coal Seam Gas (CSG) resources beneath their land, placing our food and water security at risk.

I strongly support the rational, objective, common sense basic position put forward by both Senator Joyce and the Greens – that agricultural land should be very carefully protected against any risks from the mining sector’s activities.

Indeed, I support going even further than either Barnaby or the Greens on this issue.

Why?

There are no “resources” more vital to human existence, than water #1, and food #2.

If proposed mining activities pose any plausible risk to water and/or food security, then protection of our water and ability to grow our own food must always take top priority.

To argue otherwise, you must either be an idiot. A troll. Suicidal. And/or genocidal. There are no other options.

Where I differ with (or perhaps hold a more nuanced position than) Senator Joyce – and most definitely differ with the Australian Greens – is over the question of how best to maximise the benefits for all Australians of our Great South Land’s natural resources.

Senator Joyce is quite rightly concerned with the rights of rural landowners.

The Greens appear to be concerned with the protection of agricultural land – as should we all.  But in truth, the Greens are far more interested in taxing the crap out of the mining companies, whilst paying hypocritical lip service to the quasi-religious notion of “stopping catastrophic climate change”.

I am interested in the national (human) interest.

So, I advocate for nationalisation of Australia’s mineral, petroleum, and natural gas resources.

In our world of facile, intellectually-lazy “labelling” of every one and every thing (in lieu of reasoned, nuanced thought), that viewpoint places me right out there on the “extreme left”. Yes, right alongside “evil” socialists like Hugo Chavez.

And the government and people of Norway – the happiest and most prosperous nation (per capita) on earth.

Why is Norway so happy and prosperous?

One very big contributing reason, is that the Norwegian government nationalised their North Sea oil reserves decades ago, and has retained tight control over this vital resource sector ever since, including via the 67% government-owned StatOil. Profits are returned to a now-massive sovereign wealth fund, on behalf of all the citizens of Norway.

(This is used to finance what many would label a “welfare state”; the generally-understood definition of which I do not broadly support – another nuance, for another time).

Beginning in 2007, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez moved in the same direction. He began an ongoing nationalisation drive, stripping foreign-owned companies of control over vital national resources, especially Venezuela’s vast oil reserves, along with food and key industrial production.

(The fact that it was predominantly US multi-national petroleum companies who lost out as a result of Chavez’s actions goes a very long way towards explaining the true reason why he is painted as an “evil” “insane” “socialist” villain by Western politicians and lapdog mainstream media … and thus, why you probably believe Chavez is all bad, and all wrong. How dare he be more concerned with the national interest of Venezuelans, than with the profits of multi-nationals or the deceitful ideologies of “free trade” and “globalisation”!)

In Australia, we have a ridiculous, unintelligent, ill-considered, short-sighted, shallow, and polarised “debate” over national resources.

Many argue for a mining “super profits” tax, to help “spread the wealth” of our here-today-gone-forever-tomorrow mineral resources, via a sovereign wealth fund.

Others mount high-minded, impressive-sounding arguments against this.

Many argue for restrictions on foreign ownership of Australia’s resources, including prime agricultural land.

Others mount high-minded, impressive-sounding arguments against this.

Those who argue against restrictions on foreign ownership of vital Australian resources include the treasonous “independent” Reserve Bank:

The Reserve Bank has warned that the economy’s increasing reliance on mining exports has left it more vulnerable to global downturns but suggests foreign ownership of the sector could help reduce those risks.

A paper co-authored by RBA assistant governor Philip Lowe and presented at the bank’s annual conference highlighted the benefits of foreign investment in mining at a time of intense political scrutiny of the industry’s ownership and profits.

The Greens correctly point out the fact that it is foreign-owned interests who benefit most from our country’s “poor white trash of Asia”, quarry-to-the-world status:

In June, Greens leader Bob Brown used a National Press Club address to slam the size of mining payouts to offshore investors and demand higher taxes on the industry to ensure Australians received their fair share.

He released research showing that $50 billion in mining company dividends would end up in overseas hands over the next five years — far more than the government’s watered-down mining tax would collect for taxpayers over the same period.

“Most of Treasury’s planned super-profits tax is now due to end up in the deep, deep pockets of millionaires in Switzerland, London, Calcutta and Beijing, rather than in Australian schools, hospitals or railways,” Senator Brown said at the time.

The Greens’ solution?

A bigger mining tax.

This sort of small-minded, tax-and-spend idiocy typifies the problems with our country.

Our politicians huff and puff a lot of high-minded hot air. While doing sweet FA, or at best, tinkering around the edges of critical issues.

Because most do not really have the national interest at heart.

They mostly have only their own interest at heart.

It does not have to be this way, dear reader.

Look at the example of Norway.

Then look at Bob Brown’s comment I’ve bolded in the above quote.

And ask yourself a simple question –

“Why dick around with half-arsed ‘solutions’ like mere “bigger taxes” on foreign-owned interests who are profiting off our national resources? If you’re serious about our national interests, then why not go the full monty – just like Norway and so many others – and nationalise our vital national resources?!”

Let us be quite clear.

My views on the topic of foreign “investment” (ie, ownership) of vital Australian natural resources, is far more than just “far Left”.

It is not automatically an anti-capitalist, anti-“free market” (a myth which has never existed, by the way), anti-liberty, anti-democratic, or anti-freedom position.

Instead, it is a nuanced viewpoint.

I strongly support the rights of Aussie landowners to have their livelihoods protected against risks from mining exploration/extraction.

I strongly support the absolute, unequivocal primacy of protecting agricultural land and water resources, over and above the interests of mere mining profits (you can’t eat and drink coal or iron ore, or the profits from them either).

I strongly support just and proper compensation for landowners wherever their property and/or livelihood may be impacted by the activities of other industries.

I strongly support the right of all Australians and their descendants, to enjoy peace of mind thanks to assured, long term water and food security, above all other “economic” considerations.

And, I strongly support the right of Australian citizens and their descendants, to have their interests protected (by their elected government) against the redistribution of wealth from the soil of our land, into the already-bloated bank accounts of foreign interests.

At the end of the day, that is the very heart of the matter.

All the confusion, and rhetoric, and theory, and ideology, and spirit-sapping noise over the relative alleged pros and cons of mining/agriculture/taxes/”free”-markets/socialism/capitalism … is all just a great big load of intellectual onanist #JAFA crap, that only serves to achieve one thing, whether intended or accidental.

It keeps our nation divided into warring tribes, all squabbling over red herrings … while the Big Fish make off with our big fish under the cover of theoretical, ideological, and philosophical darkness.

Why piss about arguing over the merits/demerits of a mere “tax” on foreign-owned mining companies?

Why piss about arguing over how big or small such a “tax” should or should not be?

If you really believe your own rhetoric … that Australia’s natural resources are vital to our national interest … then why not back your conviction with action, put your balls on the block, and simply nationalise the lot?

Despite what you have been led to believe, this is not a far out, “extremist” idea at all.

See for yourself the long list of countries – many of them iconic so-called “capitalist”, “free-market” countries like the USA and the UK – who have all nationalised key resources, infrastructure, and/or industries, for their national interest.

Of course, to do so here in Australia would require a government of adults. Not the current crowd of self-serving, incompetent halfwits … on both sides of the House.

Which is why I also advocate that we change the electoral laws, to only allow real adults to run for public office.

And, it is why I advocate above all for fundamental monetary reform. A complete decentralisation of the power of “money” and “credit”. Thus rendering moot the inane, archaic, 19th century, debunked-by-reality “free market” “capitalist” arguments of the RBA and the banking sector et al that we “need” “foreign investment”. Because when the RBA, the banking industry, #JAFA economists, and/or politicians say that we “need” foreign “investment” “capital”, what they are really saying is this –

You ‘need’ to remain slaves … to foreign credit-suppliers”.

You see, dear reader, the reason why I advocate these “far out” solutions, is because I am Australian.

I believe national sovereignty stands in the way of transnational tyranny.

And I believe that to continue selling the farm, and/or what is under the farm, into the hands of foreign interests (whether ‘national’, ‘multi-national’, or ‘private’) under the guise of “foreign investment”, is both 100% unnecessary, and not in our national interest.

To quote another infamous political figure … “I make no apologies for that.”

UPDATE:

And in timely overnight news, the gold price jumps on revelations that the “evil” “leftist” Mr Chavez will nationalise Venezuela’s gold industry –

Gold settled at record highs today after Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said he planned to nationalise the country’s gold industry.

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said today he plans to nationalise the country’s gold industry in a move to take over production and grow international reserves.

Speaking on state television via telephone, the leftist leader said he would be introducing a new decree to put exploration and extraction of gold into the government’s hands.

It will be “a decree to take the gold sector,” which still remains in the hands of a “mafia and smugglers,” Mr Chavez said.

“We don’t only have oil wealth, we have here one of the largest reserves of gold in the world … Let’s convert it into our international reserves because gold is increasing in its value.”

Mr Chavez also plans to move the country’s existing gold reserves out of European banks and into vaults owned by the country’s central bank. Venezuela’s official gold reserves, of 365.8 tonnes as of June, make it the 15th largest gold holder in the world according to the World Gold Council. The Latin American country is well behind the US, which leads the pack with 8113.5 tonnes, and second place, Germany, at 3401.0 tonnes.

Vast oil reserves.

A gold industry.

A President with brains and balls.

Lots and lots of pretty women.

Venezuela’s lookin’ better ‘n better all the time 😉

By the way, how does Australia compare with Venezuela for official gold reserves?

Badly.

Less than 80 tonnes, compared with Venezuela’s 365.8 tonnes.

Why?

Yes, all thanks to our stupid/treasonous Reserve Bank, who sold off most of our reserves early this century in a blunder to top all their (many) blunders:

Just over ten years ago, Australia’s central bank the RBA sold off most of the countries gold reserves under the belief that the price of gold would continue to remain flat, and that as an asset, it would no longer play any role in the future financial system, or any crises that may result.

A paper written by the central bank which recommended selling off the gold reserves conceded that that asset whilst the assets served as “insurance against a breakdown in the international financial system”, it was not necessary to hold.

The central bank’s justification for reducing its gold reserves so drastically was that gold represented a poor investment, and Australia had successfully integrated itself into global financial markets, and that it need not worry about access to those markets during a financial crisis.

Since the sale of the gold reserves the global financial systems has experienced severe stress on a number of different occasions, starting with the implosion of the technology bubble at the start of the millennium followed by the September 11th terrorist attacks, and more recently the global financial crisis in 2008.

The price of the precious metal over that time frame has risen spectacularly and the asset has begun to play an increasingly important role in the global financial system since the  financial crisis.

The central bank argued that continuing development of financial system meant that circumstances which would require Australia to call upon our gold holdings for economic reasons looked increasingly remote.

Idiots.

Or traitors.

In either case, the RBA should be disbanded.

End the RBA.

Follow the lead of Hugo Chavez.

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6 Responses to “Why I Hang Farther To The Left Than Bob Brown”

  1. JMD August 18, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    I think the root of the problem is in found in Barnaby’s media release, though he seems to have ignored or overlooked it;

    “Farmers in Queensland owned the petroleum and gas resources under their property until 1915, when the Queensland Government took them off them to protect the resources for the crown during World War I”

    Protect the resources?….. Bullshit, it was to steal them for the benefit of the government, because the government knew it would not be able to repay its war debt. In fact it never intended to repay its debt because it knew it could steal private property, including everybody’s gold (in 1931).

    I can’t say I agree with nationalisation TBI, since you are handing the government the resources, the same government that has been stealing everybody’s property for some 80 years rather than repay its debts.

    And something you may not know about Venezuela, it has a serious ‘inflation’ problem. Despite it tremendous wealth of natural resources the economy is a shambles. It’s probably a good thing that Chavez wants Venezuela’s gold back but I doubt he is willing to share it with the people. He will hoard it in an attempt to shore up his own position i.e. stave off bankruptcy.

    • The Blissful Ignoramus August 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

      I think a really key benefit of nationalisation is that it is then crystal clear to everyone who really owns it all, JMD. Thus, there is some chance of accountability. At present, the “same government that has been stealing everybody’s property for some 80 years rather than repay its debts”, does what it wants by stealth and deception, and most remain oblivious. At least with nationalisation, it’s far more out in the open.

      Don’t misunderstand or conflate my applauding Chavez (and others’) nationalisation actions, as meaning that I approve of any other things they do or may have done. You’re quite right about the other problems (inflation, economic mismanagement, risk of corruption/dictatorship, etc).

      My core view is that it is far easier for the majority to identify the real problems, and thus, possibly even press to have them addressed, than where those exact same problems are hidden behind the veil of “democracy”, “capitalism”, “socialism”, “free markets”, “foreign investment”, “privatisation”, “globalisation”, and endless other ideological claptrap.

  2. Daniel August 18, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Haha, well you can only dream. However you are still playing inside the endless growth game so you cant win. While we are playing the growth game Australia will be stripped mined until nothing profitable is left within 20-30 years.

    Im still in favor of both mining tax and the ETS. they may not be the best way of dealing with the problem but since everyone is forced to operate in this left-right Murdock media soundbyte world and not act like responsible adults since that would not make good teevee.

    Global warming/Climate change is really just a political framework for talking about the real monster in the room; Peak oil. (well really peak everything but oil is the critical one). And just so there is no misunderstandings peak means peak production rates. Oil peaked in 2005/6 according to all data and according to US joint forces command we will see a 10 million barrel a day shortfall by 2012.

    In Australia we already import around 600K bbl a day and our production has been decline for the last 10 years, currently at around 400k a day. As petrol costs continue to rise, Australia is not going to be in the best position. At least the ETS makes a financial incentive for change away from fossil fuels. And while its not on petrol currently lets just go one step at a time.

    The mining tax while not as good as nationalization which will never happen is at least a step in the right direction. Id been quite happy to see a lot of mines to shut down under a mining tax because we don’t need to mine EVERYTHING now. We can leave some of our wealth in the ground for future generations. Listening to people like Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals you would think its the end of the world if he can start his new mines on time. Its a bloody rush to get it all out now!.

    Anyway this rant has gone on a bit too long, and im sure you disagree with a lot of it. What we both can agree on is that at least people need to start acting like adults and step out the left/right box they are in and discuses these issues.

    • The Blissful Ignoramus August 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

      Actually Daniel, I agree with quite a lot of what you’ve written here. The “endless growth” deception being a primary point of agreement. That nonsense has only been made possible (for a limited time) by the monetary system under which we all operate. Which is why monetary reform (decentralisation of currency issuance) is my primary point of interest in addressing the problems of the world –

      “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one striking at the root” – Henry David Thoreau

  3. Chris Foster (@chris_foster) September 19, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    So the RBA wrote the paper/ made the recommendation, Treasury took their advice and ‘ordered’ the sale…is that correct?

    RBA is beholden to Treasury for these types of nationally important actions?

    There is a wealth of material out there on how the FED/ US Treasury mechanism operates (not so much ESF, except for Eric deCarbonnel’s work), but the equivalent relationship in Australia is not well documented/ discussed that I can see.

    Any worthy sites discussing the Australian Treasury/ RBA/ Financial Stability Agency?

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