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Below are two letters of mine published in today’s press, the first of which coincides with the latest Newspoll showing a 14 percentage point gap (on a two party preferred basis) at the Federal level between Labor and the Coalition. It suggests a need for Labor to make its policies more consistent with modern society – and, although not specifically stated, to differentiate itself from the union movement.

I have also included a letter by former federal MP, John Haslem, who is an acquaintance now living at Batemans Bay. John has outlined the restrictions on property development resulting from the acceptance by local councils of absurd projections of sea levels to 2100 derived from the last IPCC report. State governments need to act to amend or get rid of these restrictions, which apply around most of Australia.


Is brand Labor suited to modern society?
letter published in The Australian Financial Review, 27 March 2012

Geoff Kitney suggests “the reality that the Labor brand is seriously damaged has been clear for all to see for a long time” (“Positive shift may yet end in tears”, Opinion, March 24-25). He is supported in the comments by outgoing Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.

Kitney also suggests, however, that Prime Minister Julia Gillard may have helped the brand with her recent “more positive mood”, as reflected in the carbon tax, the mining tax and vehicle industry assistance, as well the ridiculing of Australia’s billionaires. But do such legislation and attitudes really offer a Labor brand suited to a modern society?

Surely we now have widespread agreement of the importance of a private enterprise system based on competition determined in the market, not one that uses detailed government legislation that sets standards determined by outsiders with little knowledge of how the market system works.

Yet the measures Kitney quotes contain that flavour as do the recent legislative changes that stop textile manufacturers from hiring workers as contractors, abolish an Australian Building and Construction Commission needed to allow competition in the industry, and establish an independent tribunal to determine pay for truck drivers. That employers are also now required over seven years to effect major increases in contributions to employees’ superannuation (of which the responsible minister seems ignorant) also reflects a “government knows best” approach.

Astonishingly, those changes that directly affect workplace regulation have occurred while the Fair Work Act is under review and despite the government’s refusal to implement the numerous amendments to legislation that employer groups and independent analysts have identified as urgent. This is despite the act’s adverse effects on both the economy and employment and the apparent recognition by the new head of Fair Work Australia that it has created a highly undesirable capital versus labour environment that should not be resolved outside Parliament.

Des Moore
Institute for Private Enterprise South Yarra Vic

Greens the losers in Queensland -- as well as Labor
letter published in Talking Point, The Australian, 27 March 2012

THE Queensland Labor government's failure to recognise the need for reform harks back to its brushing aside of the in-depth report published in 2006 by Commerce Queensland on the role of government in the state.

This report, of which I was joint author, could provide one basis for implementing change by the incoming Newman government.

The report highlighted the substantial scope to increase the proportion of traditional government services, such as health and education, provided by the private sector. This, in turn, would allow a reduced need for government expenditure -- and lower taxes.

It is pertinent also that the report identified the seriously deteriorating budgetary outlook that has eventuated since. At the time such predictions were ignored by commentators, just as they ignored until very recently the growing dissatisfaction with the Bligh government's performance.

Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic

Councils unfairly affecting coastal property values
letter published by John Haslem in The Australian, 27 March 2012

ALARMING development restrictions as threatened by Port Macquarie Hastings Council on owners of property in the area already exist in Eurobodalla Shire Council and, I understand, in many other coastal property areas in NSW ("Fighting on the beaches as council orders retreat from climate change threat" , 24-25/3).

These restrictions have already caused sharp falls in values in areas affected and are unnecessarily preventing property renewal and development and unfairly affecting property owners.

They derive from the previous NSW government's acceptance of the sea-level projections for 2100, ranging from 19cm to 59cm, in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report for 2007. As such, they are now clearly outdated.

The recent joint CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology report acknowledged that the increase since 1993 has averaged only about 3mm a year. And the rate has averaged even less over the last century or so when temperatures have been increasing.

The present NSW government should now advise councils to adopt a benchmark for sea levels in 2100 consistent with the trend over the last 100 years, that is, no more than 30cm.

John Haslem, Batemans Bay, NSW

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