LETTERS News Weekly
, April 13, 2013
Tony Abbott and abortion
Politics is about two things: leadership and the art of the possible. What is possible can ultimately only be changed by leadership.
Victorian DLP Senator John Madigan (“Bill to end Medicare-funded abortions for sex selection”, News Weekly, March 16) is showing social leadership around the issue of abortion. Liberal Opposition leader Tony Abbott is focusing on achieving power to do what is possible.
John Madigan bravely seeks to ensure that the issue of abortion does not go the same way as divorce, embryo destruction, and perhaps same-sex marriage.
All of these issues have delivered massive social change in our predominately secular society that looks to the law to determine what is right and wrong. We need to change the rules of the game.
Human life is too precious to be lost through inaction and silence. Senator Madigan is to be commended. We wish Tony Abbott well.
Democratic Labor Party (DLP)
Reforming public finances to tackle surging debt
Changes in government indebtedness over the past 10 years have clearly demonstrated the wide difference in economic philosophy between the ALP and the Liberal Party when in government.
Government indebtedness is best measured as net debt, which is total liabilities minus total financial assets, whether domestic or foreign. It is best measured for the government sector as a whole, because of the predominance and shared partnerships of the Commonwealth government in public finances.
In the financial years 2002-3 to 2006-7, the Liberals ran surpluses in four of those five years — $10 billion, $41 billion, $11 billion, $1 billion and $15 billion, respectively. The accumulated surplus was $58 billion. (Australian Bureau of Statistics data).
In contrast, from 2007-8 to 2011-2, Labor ran five successive deficits — $21 billion, $75 billion, $65 billion, $73 billion and $94 billion, respectively. Labor’s accumulated deficit is $328 billion.
It has been argued that the easing of fiscal policy in the Labor years was justifiable, as it facilitated job-creation responses to the global financial crisis and to business uncertainty. It moderated what would otherwise have been a decline in national wealth-creation.
On the other hand, the need was mitigated by the mining boom and lower interest rates.
In any case, the surge in national debt has left a legacy which may limit or impede future responses to national emergencies, and a need to boost infrastructure spending.
From a historical perspective, the Commonwealth government’s increase in net debt of $220 billion during 2008-12 — bringing the whole of government net debt to $302 billion at June 2012 — was unparalleled.
Australia is poorly placed should it be necessary to further increase government net debt, as a result of a local economic downturn, the global financial crisis, wars or natural disasters.
There will be pressure on Australia’s national debt arising from deferred defence expenditure, the National Broadcasting Network (NBN), the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Gonski’s education reform, capital spending on the Murray-Darling Basin, and meeting the needs of roads, public transport, health and an ageing population.
To deal with these matters and improve national productivity, public fiscal policy should be adjusted as follows:
1. Implement debt reduction, tax and spending programs in the public sector.
2. Revamp public sector accounting and statistics, which are now too complex.
3. Appoint an expert body to make and publish consistent, best-practice, cost-benefit evaluations/priorities for all major public expenditures.
John P. McAuley (accountant),
Castle Hill, NSW
Lord Monckton in Australia
It is a pity that English climate sceptic Lord Monckton’s recent speaking tour of Australia was not more widely reported.
At a public meeting he addressed in Geelong on March 23, Monckton said that far too many scientists rely on climate-modelling and, worse still, have deliberately massaged the data to produce results to support their claims of a warming trend over the past 150 years.
Monckton was clear that the planet was not under any dire threat of global warming. Polar bears are not an endangered species. The data show that extreme weather events have not been increasing, but decreasing. In addition, there have been no uniform ice melts, and sea levels have been rising 3 cm per century as they have always done.
He said that leading climate-change figures, such as the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, now concede that over the past 16 years global temperatures have been stable and that climate model projections have been grossly exaggerated.
Monkton’s claim that climate change is indeed the greatest moral issue of our time — but not in the sense that Kevin Rudd meant it — raises a pertinent point.
The cost of taking action on global warming now means that billions — even trillions — are to be spent over the next couple of decades, for a result which would barely be measurable on climate (i.e., one-sixteenth of 1C). This money would be better spent on local projects to protect the environment. In addition, for a fraction of the price, we could virtually eliminate poverty from the planet.