Tag Archives: greens party

GilSwan Conned – Mining Tax The Greens’ Pit Of Despair

22 Dec

See those storm clouds gathering?

Over the Pit of Despair?

I wonder how Greens’ supporters will respond, when they wake up and discover the truth.

That their party’s deal with Labor on the mining tax will have the opposite result of what they were told.

I wonder what will they say, when they discover that the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) will not result in the kind of wealth redistribution that was touted, a “fair share of our mineral wealth for all Australians”.

That instead, it will result in the Big 3 multinational mining companies … getting bigger. And richer. And more powerful.

And the government’s budget digging even deeper into the red.

When PM Gillard and Treasurer Swan went behind closed doors with the Big 3 miners to thrash out a hasty “fix” to former PM Rudd’s Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) debacle, thinking folks knew it would not end well.

Except for the big miners, that is.

Rather than scoring a vital goal for her “decisive” new leadership before the 2010 election, the secretive deal always looked more likely to result in yet another decisive Labor own goal.

And indeed it has.

Especially after Gillard and Swan again went behind closed doors, this time with the Independents and Greens, to thrash out a political deal to secure passage of the legislation in the parliament.

Late last month, after the new MRRT legislation passed the lower house, mining correspondent for The Australian Andrew Burrell belled the cat:

FEWER than one in 10 iron ore and coal miners operating in Australia will earn enough profit to start paying the $11.1 billion minerals resource rent tax from next year, according to Gillard government estimates.

A spokesman for Wayne Swan said yesterday he could not provide the names of the “estimated 20 to 30″ companies that were likely to pay the MRRT in 2012-13 because it was impossible to say how many companies would earn more than the annual profit threshold of $75 million.

“We haven’t got a precise list,” the spokesman said.

“But we have said the vast bulk of MRRT will be paid by the big three (BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata).”

Mr Burrell went on to reference the PM’s ever-changing claim for how many miners will be impacted under her revised grand design.

A claim most noteworthy not for its credibility.

But for its familiarity.

A remarkable familiarity to her “1,000 biggest” / “500 biggest” / “more like in the order of like, 400 biggest polluters” claim.

And the “half a million” / “300,000” jobs creation claim.

And the “4%” / “3.25%” projected GDP growth claim.

And the “3.5bn surplus” / “1.5bn surplus” projected budget outcome claim.

Big Labor government claims that are always being revised … downward:

Julia Gillard said last year that 320 iron ore and coal miners operating in Australia could be eligible to pay the MRRT — down from 2500 under the original resource super-profits tax that applied to all commodities.

In a deal with Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie on Monday, the government agreed to raise the profit threshold for the tax from $50m to $75m.

Mr Wilkie revealed the move would restrict the number of companies paying the MRRT to fewer than 30.

But this failed to quell criticism from junior miners, which claim the design of the tax still favours the established miners.

It remains unclear how the government will raise $11.1bn in the first three years of the MRRT.

Billionaire miner Andrew Forrest added to the confusion last week when he estimated that his iron ore company, Fortescue Metals Group, would largely avoid paying the tax for at least five years thanks to the substantial writeoffs available to all big producers.

Many in the industry also doubt whether BHP, Rio and Xstrata will face big MRRT liabilities, particularly in the early years of the mining tax.

This is because the design of the tax allows iron ore and coalminers with existing operations to price their assets using today’s inflated market values and claim potentially massive deductions…

Glyn Lawcock, a top-rated mining analyst at UBS, said it was impossible to predict with accuracy how much MRRT companies would pay from next financial year because it was difficult to calculate a company’s market value, which was used to determine MRRT liability.

When asked whether he believed the government could raise $11.1bn over three years, he said: “I scratch my head a little bit at that.”

It certainly is a head scratcher. Especially when one takes the time to carefully review the Treasury department’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 document.

Recently a mining industry chief executive walked your humble blogger through this document. And explained that there is a very good reason why there has been little except “token noise” from the mining industry over the GilSwan MRRT, in stark contrast to the spirited fight put up against the original Rudd RSPT.

It is because in his words, “big miners will pay nothing for years, and small miners will pay nothing at all”.

But there’s more. In having the details explained to me, an even bigger flaw dawned.

A key insight, that mainstream economic commentators have not cottoned on to.

The clever accountants and lawyers for the Big 3 appear to have conned GilSwan into creating a tax mechanism that not only allows the Big 3 to defer paying any MRRT for years. It is a “tax” that acts as a financial incentive for the Big 3 to increase their monopoly, by gobbling up their smaller competitors and getting MRRT write-offs for doing so.

To understand how, let’s work through the details of the Treasury department’s document (emphasis added):

New investment will be given generous treatment in the form of immediate write‐off, rather than depreciation over a number of years.  This allows mining projects to access the deductions immediately, and means a project will not pay any MRRT until it has made enough profit to pay off its upfront investment.

Sounds good if you are a start-up miner or explorer, right?  No doubt this idea was sold to GilSwan by the Big 3 as being “necessary” to encourage future mining investment, given that the MRRT places Australia at a competitive disadvantage versus other nations that do not have an MRRT.

But it’s also an obvious loophole that immediately dawned on your humble blogger. One that favours the Big 3 miners, who have the deepest pockets.


What happens if a big multinational miner such as BHP, Rio Tinto, or Xstrata buys out a smaller mining company, such as a junior explorer or a company with proven but unrealised in-ground reserves?  It would appear they can claim the cost of that “new investment” as an immediate tax write-off, thus offsetting any MRRT they might otherwise be obliged to pay with respect to their other mining projects.

As you will see in a moment, this is no mere speculation by a sceptical blogger with an eye for detail.

It is exactly what the mechanism allows.

But it gets better for the big miners.

What if that smaller miner or junior explorer that they have now bought out, is presently making losses? Remembering that all do, typically for the first 5-10 years of the mine’s life:

• The MRRT will carry forward unutilised losses at the government long term bond rate plus 7 per cent.

Buy up a smaller, loss-making mining company. And claim the value of their unutilised losses against your other MRRT obligations.

Can’t believe that GilSwan (and the “bozos” in Treasury) could be this stupid?

They are:

• The MRRT will provide transferability of deductions. This supports mine development because it means a taxpayer can use the deductions that flow from investments in the construction phase of a project to offset the MRRT liability from another of its projects that is in the production phase.

No use to a small mining company with only one project. But manna from heaven to a large multinational miner with multiple projects.

Buy up a junior explorer, or a mining company that has proven reserves but has not yet begun/completed construction on the project. Claim 100% of the costs against your MRRT liabilities from other, active producing projects.

Thanks to the MRRT, the initial ‘new investment’ in swallowing up a junior mining company, and the ‘unutilised losses’ of that junior mining company, and the construction costs of taking that newly-acquired mining company’s project to production stage, all these now become tax-minimising assets to a hungry Big 3 multinational looking to take over their smaller, up-and-coming (Australian-owned) competitors.

But there’s still more:

• The MRRT will recognise the particular characteristics of different commodities, by applying a taxing point close to the point of extraction, and using appropriate pricing arrangements to ensure only the value of the resources extracted is taxed.

The Big 3 miners were very clever indeed in negotiating this “deal” with GilSwan.

As my mining industry source pointed out to me, the point of extraction is the point of lowest value of the ore; the grade is far below “shipping grade”, and so its value is far below the actual market value. He cited the example of copper ore.

At the point of extraction, the ore may only comprise 1% copper. The value of the ore at this point is around $20 per tonne.

But when subsequently processed into a 25% copper concentrate, the value is around $1,387 per tonne.

And the cost to the mining company of processing the raw 1% copper ore into 25% copper concentrate?

“About $30 per tonne.”

When the Big Miners insisted on the tax being applied “close to the point of extraction”, they took advantage of GilSwan’s abject ignorance of real-world business.  An ignorance that has been all too often seen in their many other policy calamities – think ceiling insulation, school halls, computers in schools, subsidised Toyota hybrids, green schemes, set-top boxes, and the daddy of them all, the no cost/benefit analysis NBN.

You should not be surprised, dear reader.  Not when our World’s Greatest Treasurer has an Arts degree, zero business experience, and has never worked a real job in his life.

Which explains, of course, why we are paying him $262,000 per year. And why we are about to increase his salary by $84,000 per year. And why we have spent $75,440 in 6 months on empty RAAF VIP “ghost” flights to ferry him about.

This ignorance of how things work in the real world is borne out even more starkly however. Not only have GilSwan agreed to impose the mining tax “close to the point of extraction”, (ie) at the ore’s lowest value, far below its value-added market value. They have also agreed to a 25% extraction allowance:

• The MRRT will provide a 25 per cent extraction allowance to further shield from tax the important value add and capital that mining companies bring to mineral extraction.

Further shield” it?!  When they are already applying the tax “close to” the point of its lowest value?!

Ignore if you can all the other write-offs and deductions for a moment. What this “extraction allowance” really means is that GilSwan have not only agreed to tax the ore at or near its lowest value. They have also agreed to an effective tax rate of only 22.5%. Not the headline 30%.

In other words, this so-called “super profits tax” will be applied at 25% less than the standard company tax rate that even my own small business has to pay!

But where the now-familiar Labor descent into complete farce reaches its denouement, is when we get to the Treasury department’s modelling:

How the MRRT works

The following example is intended to illustrate how the MRRT will apply to iron ore and coal projects, commencing after 1 July  2012.

The example presents outcomes for a single project company with an equity financed mine that operates for 5 years.  The company is assumed to invest $1 billion in the first year of the project.  Over the life of the project the pre‐tax rate of return (revenue less operating and investment costs) is 50 per cent.

Click to enlarge

As my mining industry source assured, the modelled assumptions are beyond fantastic.

They are positively delusional.

The Treasury assumes this fairytale mining company begins to show “Revenue” of $520 million at Year 2 (see table). In the real world, a start-up mining project typically absorbs 5-10 years of losses before they even begin productive operations. My mining industry source pointed out that he has never heard of any mining company ever going from zero revenue to half a billion in a single year.

The Treasury also assumes this fairytale company has Year 2 operating expenses of 25% of revenue, and 25.5% at Year 6. Again … unheard of figures.

Back to the modelling:

The MRRT is levied at a rate of 30 per cent of the operating margin (revenue less operating and investment costs) less the MRRT allowance and the extraction allowance.  The MRRT allowance is calculated as the value of unused losses uplifted by an allowance rate equal to the long term government bond rate plus 7 per cent…

When we look at Year 4 in the example, the year in which Treasury has modelled the first MRRT “profit” (an inconceivable $436m), we find another problem. It is unclear whether Treasury has modelled “Revenue” as being Company revenue, or, as the “extraction point” value of the ore. If, as appears likely, the modelled “Revenue” figure is actually Company revenue, then on this point alone Treasury’s modelling is gravely flawed. Company revenue has nothing to do with the value of the ore at the “extraction point”. Meaning, the Treasury figures are nonsense.

Indeed, my mining industry source described them as “totally made up and have no resemblance to reality”.

Rather like Treasury’s modelling for “green jobs” (see one of 2011’s most popular posts, Barnaby Bamboozles Chief Of Climate Change Modelling Unit … Again).

Back to the MRRT modelling:

State royalties are assumed in this example to be equal to 7.5 per cent of sales revenue and are credited against the MRRT liability to produce the net MRRT liability. Where royalty payments exceed the MRRT liability in any one year, the balance is uplifted at the allowance rate to be offset against future MRRT liabilities…

We’ve left the issue of how the MRRT impacts on the payment of State mining royalties until now, to avoid complication. This is already a source of political angst between the governments of the mining states, and the Federal government. For the purposes of our look at the modelling, however, it’s pretty simple. The GilSwan grand plan grants a 100% credit for State mining royalties paid by the mining company.

In summary then, the MRRT is essentially calculated as follows:

MRRT 30% x Operating Margin (ie, Revenue calculated “close to Extraction Point”, less Operating costs)

less 100% write-off of construction costs

less write-off of unutilised losses

less 100% write-off of construction costs of acquired companies/projects

less write-off of unutilised losses of acquired companies/projects

less write-down of “market value” of existing assets over 25 years, OR

less write-down of “current written down book value” of existing assets (less the value of the resource) at an accelerated rate over 5 years

less Extraction Allowance (25%)

less 100% State Royalty credit

It all begs the question … from where is the government’s claimed $11.1bn in MRRT revenue ever going to come from?

Treasurer Swan has claimed that “the vast bulk of MRRT will be paid by the big three”.

But in reality, given all the write-offs and concessions, the big miners will pay nothing for many years. If ever.

As Fortescue’s Andrew Forrest has affirmed.

So then, of GilSwan’s originally alleged “2,500 mining companies” in Australia, just who exactly are these “estimated 20-30” (small) iron and coal miners who will be earning profits of $75m per annum from July 2012?

Especially given that the boom in commodity prices has now peaked … and plummeted?

Others are asking the same question:

“Is this for real?

“Firstly, what 2500 companies are mining in Australia? There is NO WAY the number is that high unless one counts every Pty Ltd quarry and sand pit and borrow pit. Even then, it is an extraordinary figure and I cannot believe for one minute that it is real.

“But secondly, Gillard says only 320 iron and coal companies were captured under the MRRT. Really? Are there really 300-plus coal companies? Because as far as I know, there are only about 14 iron ore companies. And if you believe those figures to be true (i.e 320 dropping to around 30) that means that there are 290 iron ore and coal mining companies that are operating at an annual profit of between $50m and $75m since that is the only difference between MRRT Mk 1 and MRRT Mk 2. This is patently absurd.”

The broader point here is that there is just not a whole lot in the sustaining rhetoric of the MRRT that stands a cold hard reality check. Yet the government continues to represent the tax as a great leap forward in the commonwealth’s chase for a fairer share of the resources boom.

It isn’t.

As colleague David Uren made clear in his insightful dismantling of a tax “so compromised by its bastard birth that it puts the commonwealth budget at risk and cannot be considered an economic reform”.

Uren observed that a 20 per cent fall in commodities prices would wipe out the government’s MRRT revenue and leave it stumping up for the $4.5bn of recurrent spending commitments that were supposed to be funded from the fairer share.

And folks I am here to tell you that this is exactly the scenario that the government is facing.

The sustained retreat of iron ore and coal prices means that big mining is now some months past peak cashflows.


With the China bubble deflating, iron ore and coking coal spot prices are currently trading around 30% below their 2011 peaks:

Source: RBA Chart Pack, Dec 2011 | Click to enlarge

At least the Coalition is aware of the budget risk. Even if they too appear not to have twigged to what is a blindingly obvious extension of logic – that the MRRT is designed to help the Big 3 multinationals increase their profits, and their monopoly:

“There are serious question marks over who will pay what and when under Labor’s mining tax deal,” Shadow Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann said.

“FMG says it won’t pay any MRRT for a number of years given the tax design features favouring larger miners,” he said.

“There are credible suggestions that the big three miners who had exclusive access to the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to design the mining tax behind closed doors won’t pay any MRRT for years either.

No wonder the big three say they are happy with the MRRT, while the smaller local miners are not.

“Wayne Swan has consistently refused to release the commodity price and production volume assumptions used to estimate MRRT revenue claiming that they’re based on commercial-in-confidence data provided by the big three miners.

“So not only are the big three miners allowed to design the tax to suit their needs, they’re also the only ones allowed to know the governments mining tax revenue assumptions. That’s just not good enough.

Even on the government’s own figures, the mining tax package is a fiscal train wreck in the making.

The Great Big Mining Tax … that isn’t.

As my kind mentor concluded:

“This bill was drafted BY miners, FOR miners”

“I think the miners and their accountants outsmarted Gillard and Swan, and bamboozled them with mining jargon”

The miners in reality love it.” 

Greens’ supporters … welcome to the Pit of Despair.

“What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so, be honest. How do you feel?”

Greens Leader Browns His Trousers Over Blocked Shot, Cops Bollocking

12 Nov

On Wednesday, the day after the railroading of the carbon derivatives scam legislation through the Senate, Greens leader Bob Brown copped a right bollocking.

Why? Because, dear reader, he had requested a suspension of standing orders to bring a notice of motion concerning Parliamentary Behaviour.

Poor widdle Bobby Wobby* was not a happy chappy.

Let’s see why (from Hansard, emphasis added):

Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania—Leader of the Australian Greens) (16:01): I ask that general business notice of motion No. 549, which relates to conduct following the final vote on the clean energy bills, be taken as a formal motion.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?

An opposition senator: Yes, there is.

Let’s skip the subsequent formalities, and jump forward to the heart of the matter. Here’s Senator Bobby Wobby again:

Yesterday, when the final vote was taken on the legislation, you will know, Mr Deputy President, that the press gallery had more than 40 members— something I have not seen since the passage of the goods and services tax more than a decade ago. It was a major and historic moment for the Greens, and there were quite a number of cameras in the press gallery. Senator Heffernan got from his chair and walked down and stood in front of the contingent of Greens to obscure the cameras making a record of that event as we shook hands and generally were happy that the passage of that legislation had taken place. I am not particularly miffed about whether or not we get coverage obscured, but it was a churlish and childish thing for Senator Heffernan to do. He frequently invades other people’s press conferences, other people’s moments, book launches and so on. It was rude, if not to the Greens, to the photographers in the gallery, to the cameras here and to the watching and listening public, because it obscured their right to see the events taking place in this chamber…

Hmmmm… obscured the cameras, eh?

Greens Senators congratulate each other after the Government's Clean Energy (carbon tax) Bills were passed through the Senate today. Picture: Ray Strange

Greens leader Bob Brown hugs his deputy Christine Milne after the tax passed through Senate today. Photo: Andrew Meares

For your light entertainment today, we bring you a selection of highlights from the subsequent mauling that Senator Brown received, starting with Senator Abetz:

Senator ABETZ (Tasmania—Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (16:08): The man who has led demonstrations with big banners to block people out of sight and the man who has led demonstrations making a lot of noise to drown out other voices is the man who, in Pecksniffian manner, comes into this place complaining that somebody stood in the way of a camera. I know that this senator allegedly had an interest in the art of photography but I never knew that his interest in the art of photography only related to photographs of himself. What a vain, petulant speech we have just heard. We were told that this was a matter of national significance. Was the government’s view blocked? No. Was the view of the President, the most important person in this chamber, blocked? No. Even that of a humble leader of the opposition? No. And that of the National Party? No. Senator Xenophon’s? No. Senator Madigan’s? No. So what was this important group in the Senate that was being blocked? Not the government, not the opposition, not some Independents—oh, it was the Greens! I would suggest to Senator Brown that he be very careful with that glass of water in front of him, because if he stares in it when the light is shining in it he might see a narcissistic type reflection—and this is what this is all about. This is a window into the vanity of the Leader of the Australian Greens. This is a window into the petulance of the Australian Greens…

… I always thought Senator Heffernan was as skinny as a beanstalk. Now you are trying to say that he is bigger than a Mack truck. How on earth could a senator standing there block out the crossbenchers and the Greens all at the same time? It is a physical impossibility. Senator Brown was not concerned about the crossbenchers; he was concerned about himself, as is always the case…

… Is the senator actually trying to tell us and the Australian people that this is a matter of such great import that it needs the suspension of standing orders in this place as we need to discuss the fact that Senator Brown could not get his photograph taken because somebody who is about as slim as anybody else in this chamber, Senator Heffernan, happened to walk over to the Australian Greens to discuss the vote? This is petulance writ large and this is vanity writ large. But do you know what it also is writ large? The Australian Greens and, in particular, Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Brown. I have been around this joint for about 17 years and I have never seen or heard such a vain or petulant motion being put forward by any backbench senator, let alone somebody who claims to be the leader of an Australian political party. Mr Deputy President, I suggest that we dispense with this nonsense of Senator Brown’s and get on with the important business of the Senate.


However, it was Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi who really stood tall.

Linguistically. Logically. And literally:

Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (16:18): It is an extraordinary thing when the worst fears of the Australian people are confirmed by the vainglorious and narcissistic motion that we have before us. It is offensive to the Australian people that this parliament seems to have nothing better to do than debate the pious and sanctimonious words put forward by Senator Bob Brown and Senator Milne because they missed a photo opportunity. In the last 31⁄2 or four minutes, we have heard all about upholding the standing orders, from the party of hypocrisy—the party that will not acknowledge the magnificence of the chair in this chamber when they enter and leave, the party that will not acknowledge people’s formal titles in Senate inquiries and hearings, the party that will not acknowledge standing orders. For the benefit of this chamber, let me put this to you:

A resolution of the Senate allows the media to photograph any senator in the chamber provided that they have the call.

Might I remind Senator Bob Brown that yesterday he did not have the call. He stood up and was champing at the bit, trying to grandstand by cuddling with his cabal over there, who have sent this country down a path from which there will be no return while they remain in power. But let me remind them that it is in breach of standing orders.

Senator Bob Brown has come up with this confected outrage and some contrived complaint against Senator Heffernan, who because of his generosity and magnanimous heart was simply going across there to acknowledge that we had been defeated in a challenge. But, in the rudeness, the shrillness and the smugness of the Greens party, they refused to acknowledge Senator Heffernan. I saw him. I watched him. He turned around and looked at the chamber; he looked to the chair and he acknowledged the chair humbly. I can only imagine what he said to himself: ‘Why won’t they talk to me? I’m just trying to be generous.’

One sniffs the scent of BS wafting in with that last bit. Still, what is it they say about arguing with idiots … they drag your down to their level, then beat you with experience?

But what has happened as a result? We have this hypocritical, vainglorious and narcissistic motion come into the chamber. It is only right that the Australian people would be questioning why this is happening. If there has been regrettable activity in this chamber, might I say much of it rests with the Greens party.

If you want to know about bad behaviour in and out of this place, we need look no further than Senator Bob Brown himself. This is the man who feigned bankruptcy or impending bankruptcy to collect money from the public for legal bills, around $300,000—

Senator Bob Brown: Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I take objection to ‘feigned bankruptcy’. It is untrue and unparliamentary, and I ask that it be withdrawn.

Senator Abetz: Mr Deputy President, on the point of order: Senator Bob Brown might reflect that, when it was put to him that he was not actually going to go bankrupt, he amended the Greens website using words to the effect that he might not necessarily have technically gone bankrupt. So he did amend his language after those matters were drawn to his attention.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Bernardi, it would assist if you withdrew that last remark.

Senator BERNARDI: I will withdraw that Senator Bob Brown was feigning bankruptcy, but he did—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Unconditionally, Senator Bernardi.

Senator BERNARDI: I withdraw unconditionally. But it did not stop Senator Brown, being the ecomillionaire, from collecting nearly $1 million in order to pay about $300,000 worth of legal bills. Anyone with any integrity who was not so consumed with hubris and ego would have said, ‘No, I’ve got my charity from the public; they can keep their money for themselves.’ This is a shameful stunt by a man who thinks the rules should apply differently to him than to anybody else.

This is a man who condemns political donations to any political party yet whose own party takes $1.6 million donations. I ask myself, and I am sure the Australian people will ask themselves, ‘Why was it that a line of questioning in this chamber by the Greens was directly related to the business interests of the person who made that donation?’ It is a proper and right question for this chamber to consider. It is a proper and right question for the Australian people to consider, Senator Brown. Might I also say that the question you are putting to the Australian people today in this chamber is simply inappropriate and improper. There is a dignity that should be maintained in this place. We should not sink to the lowest common denominator and debase it to the level that Senator Brown and the Greens wish to take it to. If we are maintaining the standing orders, if we are serious about maintaining the traditions and the other things that make the Senate such a special place in which to work, we cannot debase it by putting motions like this, by not acknowledging the chair and by showing flagrant contempt for standing orders whenever it suits. That is exactly what this does. We should not be surprised by it, because we have experienced it again and again from the Greens party.

Senator Brown and the Greens cannot handle any scrutiny—they have a glass jaw. That is why, when their policy position is examined, when there is any critical questioning of their own conduct and behaviour, their response is: ‘This is the hate media; this is persecution. The Greens are different. We’re separate. We’re isolated from the world.’

Senator Abetz: They are different.

Senator BERNARDI: Indeed they are different, they are separate and they are isolated from the world. Unfortunately, they have their hands on the tiller of government, and that is a shame for this country. (Time expired)

And after some more speeches from both sides…

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion moved by Senator Bob Brown to suspend standing orders be agreed to.

Question negatived.

And thusly, dear reader, the Australian Senate, 76 politician strong (plus Senate staff, assorted lackeys et al) .. financed by the Aussie taxpayer .. piss farted about for a full 30 minutes from 16:01 to 16:31 on Wednesday the nineth day of November in the year of our Lord 2011.

All thanks to Bob Brown’s self-righteous narcissism.

And his oh so genteel, just-don’t-scratch-the-surface, glass-jawed vindictiveness.

(Remind you of anyone?)

Just the sort of personality type we want running the country.

* An apropos moniker for the petulant Bob Brown, I suggest. The Wobbegong is a camouflaged, bottom-dwelling shark, whose feeding habits classify it an ambush predator.

Bobby Wobby.

You heard it here first.

Making Man Subservient To Vegetable Matter

27 Oct

Senator Joyce writes for the Canberra Times:

Problem solving: let’s be practical and pragmatic

It would seem that the fear of a shark attack is becoming well grounded in recent weeks. If one is concerned about the attacks of a 30kg pit bull terrier, then a 1200kg shark three to four metres long deserves very special attention.

It is terribly traumatic to the family of a victim when these attacks lead, as they often do, to the brutal death of a loving and well-loved person. A very small section ofavery vast ocean is responsible for the interaction between sharks arid humans.

Preventative management is not environmental vandalism. Now I hear people are very reticent to state the obvious, which is where sharks and humans swim in the same water, and human lives are in danger, the sharks should be culled. Of course this idea has the glittering environmental illuminati, in some sections, in apoplectic uproar. Their argument goes like this; we are just another animal and if sharks want to eat us because we look like seals then that is their right.

I am not suggesting that we should patrol the entire coast and shoot every shark on sight, but in areas of dense population there is a hierarchy of needs and human life rates higher than the shark’s.

It is not just sharks that have usurped the greater cognisant dignity of homo sapiens. Bats in Queensland have also lately evolved to a higher level. In Charters Towers it goes like this, man builds park, bats infest park, bats stay, man goes.

In a children’s school in NSW an infestation of bats produced this bullet of logic from the local member Janelle Saffin. She suggested that “a long-term solution” was to move the school rather than the bats. Bats are also part of a process that spreads Hendra virus for which there is no cure, although millions are being spent on research. Janelle, they are bats not angels hanging upside down in trees defecating on all below.

Man is not just subservient to animals, we now have a movement to make man subservient to vegetable matter as well. In many areas. when bushfire season approaches you are allowed to sweep up the leaves but you are uot allowed to remove the trees. Houses must be iuciuerated for the right of trees to buru uuimpeded during a bushfire.

When you fly over many farms these days you see trees stuck right in the middle of cultivation like a cultural totem pole that dare not be touched. The Greens appear to have borrowed the logic from some Pythonesque version of Catholicism where every tree is sacred.

Maybe my opinions have been brutalised by the fact that I grew up in a family where my father was a vet.

It was all care and kindliness but to a limit that did not intrude on the greater dignity of people. Excessive heroic efforts to preserve an animal’s life, through expensive drugs, had to be seen in the opportunity costs of a human’s life somewhere else in the world, which we generally have scant regard for. In our family, a strong moral string was pulled when people started to treat animals with anthropomorphic virtues that reflected an inspired storybook fantasy rather than physiological reality.

These views also intrude into policy where the correct concern for the brutalisation of animals in the live cattle trade became extended so that no form of live cattle trade could take place. The advocates utilised the sensation to extend their cause to their ultimate goal, which was to end the trade at the expense of diplomatic relations or the protein requirements of Indonesians.

Sharks do not read Shakespeare nor have a continued endearing affection to their sons or daughters and if they weigh over a tonne it would be best if they are not swimming in the same surf as your mother aud father.

Bats cau reside iu their millions across national parks and farmland.

They do not need to live at your school or at the Royal Botanical gardens above your picnic blanket.

If there is an overarching requirement that the world needs at the moment it is the absolute necessity for both our actions and our discussions to be pragmatic.

Meetings in Europe about repaying debt do not repay debt; repaying debt repays debt, the alternative is default and calamity.

The triumph of theory over practicality is a multi-faceted, self indulgent mirage.

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