Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

American Spectator praises Australia’s bold new conservative leader

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

Well, I think we can get some encouragement from this article from the American Spectator.

Let’s take a look at his policies and appointments:

On economic policy, his government has moved in the opposite direction of those who favor Dodd-Frank-like behemoth approaches to the financial industry. Instead it’s opted to simplify regulation. As the minister responsible for the reform bluntly pointed out, “no amount of legislation will ever be a guarantee against another Storm Financial.” Indeed it’s often excessive regulation that creates opportunities for financial shenanigans by industry insiders.

Regarding the welfare state, Abbott’s minister for Social Security, Kevin Andrews (another conservative politician-thinker), has announced a major overhaul of a welfare system that was starting to drift in a distinctly European-direction. Predictably the left are up in arms. But so too are those rent-seeking Australian businesses who now find themselves dealing with a government uninterested in subsidizing them. That’s nothing, however, to the fury that greeted Abbott’s disbanding of the climate-change bureaucracy established by the preceding Labor government.

[...]The first sign of Abbott’s seriousness about obstructing the left’s long march through the institutions was his government’s appointment of the policy-director of the center-right Institute of Public Affairs to the nation’s Human Rights Commission. This was widely seen as the beginning of an effort to re-balance an organization long criticized as monolithically left-wing. Since then Abbott has indicated that major changes are coming to the ABC: Australia’s government-funded institutional — and ideological — equivalent of the BBC.

[...]Along the same lines, Abbott’s education minister, Christopher Pyne, has initiated a review of the national curriculum implemented by the previous government. A moment’s glance at the curriculum’s treatment of history soon illustrates the extent to which it seeks to downplay Australia’s indisputably Western heritage. In the words of Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell, “Europe, Britain and the United States are mentioned 76 times, while Asia is referred to on more than 200 occasions.” This disparity is odd because although Australia is certainly in Asia, no objective observer could say that Australia is “of” Asia. Moreover, while Australian students learn about “Gaia” and other deep-green fantasies in grade 9, many Australian universities find they need to put the same students through remedial English classes once they begin college.

Then there are Abbott’s initial steps on the international stage. Take, for instance, his recent remarks at Davos. Much of the address was devoted to pushing a strong free trade agenda and insisting that governments should let business do what it does best: promote lasting economic growth. “After all,” Abbott said, “government doesn’t create wealth; people do, when they run profitable businesses.”

In the same speech, however, Abbott made the conservative point that economic prosperity and freedom can’t be sustained in a value-neutral world. Nor did Abbott shy away from relentlessly pressing one of the most important moral arguments for free trade articulated long ago by Adam Smith: that economic freedom, combined with the right institutions, radically reduces poverty faster than any other approach. “No country,” Abbott added, “has ever taxed or subsidized its way to prosperity.”

All in all, the address added up to a solid integration of sound economics with conservative principles. That’s what makes Abbott different from, say, Canada’s Stephen Harper or Spain’s Mariano Rajoy. Abbott happily engages in the indispensable task of moral suasion in favor of conservative positions. What’s more, he’s quite good at it. With his rare combination of plain-speaking and intellectual substance, Abbott makes conservative ideas sound, well, reasonable to the average voter.

Now, I personally thought that prime minister Stephen Harper of Canada was the best leader of any nation out there, but I had not been following Australian politics as much as I should be, and now I think I’ll give the crown to Abbott. He seems to have a good fusionist view that integrates economic policy and social policy, and that makes him better than Harper, in my view. I would like to see Abbott flex his muscles on foreign policy, as well. Something to look forward to.

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Conservative Christian Tony Abbott wins majority in Australia

Tony Abbott, future Prime Minister of Australia

Tony Abbott, future Prime Minister of Australia

Timothy Stanley of the UK Telegraph reports that Australia has elected a Stephen Harper of their own.

Excerpt:

Tony Abbott has won the Australian election – a blow not only to the Australian Labor Party but to Left-wingers everywhere who presumed that he was too “Neanderthal” to win. Well, us Neanderthals will be having a barbie tonight and sculling some beers to celebrate. “Good on yer, mate!”

Abbott won for two reasons. First, the Australian Labor Party is going through a long-term identity crisis. The ALP was once the party of the working man (and Sheila) but in recent years it’s succumbed to the worst aspects of factional politics, becoming a magnet for liberal pressure groups desperate for their slice of the taxpayers’ pie. The party contained plenty of factions in the past but it always managed to steer a sensible middle course between them – so while it was the ALP in the 1970s that established Australia as an outward-looking, Pacific power it was also the ALP in the 1980s that recognised the need for economic reform and rejected protectionism. It’s the party of both Gough Whitlam and Les Patterson.

However, in recent years the Left gained an ascendance over the Right that undid that delicate balance. Under Gillard and Rudd, the ALP “bought” off Australia’s metropolitan elites by embracing issues like gay marriage and the green agenda – the latter threatening the livelihoods of ordinary Australians trying to drill, mine and log their way through the global recession. It invested in silly, expensive projects that turned into giveaways to client companies and unions. And it displayed all of its internal bickering in public, reducing national politics to student union shenanigans. The ALP is now severed from the base that it once represented so well, leaving the ordinary blokes and blokesses looking around for something new.

[...]On the quiet, Abbott has picked up some of the politics that the ALP abandoned. He is said to be a devotee of BA Santamaria, the Catholic thinker who tried to build a Christian Democratic movement that combined social justice and social conservatism. Abbott’s conservatism is plain to see: he rejects doctrinaire environmentalism and favours a far freer and competitive market than the ALP’s clients would ever tolerate. But he also has Santamaria’s concern for social justice: Abbott wants to introduce a scheme that would pay for parental leave to encourage mothers and fathers not only to spend more time with their children but to have more of them, too. Dig beneath that hard man image and you’ll find a politician who is considerably softer and complex. Whereas some Western conservatives seem to be entirely motivated by the desire to win (Romney, Cameron), Abbott has a philosophy and – almost unique in our materialist age – a theology.

This puts him in the George W Bush, Stephen Harper compassionate conservative tradition – the tradition that tends to attract the most votes. For while British Tories might look at Abbott’s politics and language and sneer, they would do well to remember this important distinction. Tony Abbott wins elections; David Cameron has yet to do even that.

Congratulations, Conservative Coalition!

My previous post on Tony Abbott is here, if you want to know more about his policies.

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Conservative coalition leader Tony Abbott leads by 6 points in latest Australia election poll

Tony Abbott, future Prime Minister of Australia

Tony Abbott, future Prime Minister of Australia

First the latest Nielsen poll results from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Excerpt:

Latest opinion polls show a further drop in support for Labor two weeks out from an election, with one indicating the Prime Minister may struggle to hold his own seat.

The Nielsen poll, published on Fairfax websites, shows Labor’s primary vote has fallen two points to 35 per cent.

After preferences, that gives the Coalition a six-point lead – 53 per cent to 47 per cent.

If the results were replicated evenly across the country on election day, Labor would lose 10 seats.

The poll of 2,500 respondents has a margin of error of 2.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, a Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper, shows Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is behind the Coalition candidate, Bill Glasson, in his Brisbane seat of Griffith.

The poll of 500 voters shows Mr Rudd trails his opponent 52 per cent to 48 per cent on a two-party preferred basis. The margin of error is 4.4 per cent.

Another Newspoll of almost 1,400 voters in the Coalition’s eight most marginal seats in Queensland shows the Coalition’s primary vote has surged eight points to 54 per cent, while the ALP’s primary vote has slipped to 32 per cent.

It shows the Coalition has a commanding two-party preferred lead of 60 per cent to Labor’s 40 per cent.

Mr Rudd’s personal support has also fallen to 39 per cent, with 49 per cent of voters across the marginal seats preferring Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

The Coalition is is composed of the Liberal party (which is actually the conservative party) and the National party (which is also conservative).

I found an interview with Tony Abbott posted on India Today, when I searched for some keywords related to his policies. I searched for a detailed policy-oriented interview in the mainstream media, but couldn’t find much. Strangely enough, the Australian media seemed to be more concerned with gaffes and fear-mongering about Abbott’s socially conservative views. It’s as if the mainstream media is aiming for some sort of Jon Stewart coverage of the election, instead of telling us about each candidate’s plans and proposals.

Here’s some of the interview:

1. What are your plans to grow the economy?
The Liberal Party understands that successful businesses generate prosperity for the entire community by creating jobs, investing in growth and earning important export income.

We will lower costs for Australian businesses by removing Labor’s carbon tax. We will take the shackles off Australian businesses by cutting $1 billion in red tape every year. And we will boost productivity by encouraging more people into the workforce with better child care and a paid parental leave scheme and we will build 21st century infrastructure.

The economy will be strengthened by a new lowered company tax rate of 28.5% from 1 July 2015. This builds on the Coalition’s track record of delivering real tax reform focussed on cutting and simplifying taxation in Australia. Our fully funded tax cut will restore confidence in the management of Australia’s economy and boost job creation and investment.

The Coalition will also build a more diverse, world-class economy – a 5 pillar economy – to unleash Australia’s real economic potential. In particular, we will build on our strengths in manufacturing innovation, agriculture exports, advanced services, world class education and research as well as boosting mining exports.

2. The cost of living has gone up in the recent years, how will the Liberals help families cope with the rising costs?
We will start reducing cost of living pressures for families by immediately scrapping Labor’s carbon tax, taking the pressure off rapidly rising electricity and gas prices.

The average family will be $500 better off next year alone and seniors will still keep their fortnightly pension and benefit increases- all without a carbon tax. We will not proceed with Labor’s FBT changes on cars. And we will restore the Private Health Insurance Rebate as soon as we responsibly can.

3. We have a lot of small businesses in our community, how will Liberals help them? 
The Liberal Party understands the small businesses are the real job creators in the economy, employing almost half of the workforce in Australia. We will reduce costs for every business by abolishing the carbon tax, directly reducing electricity, gas and transport costs. By removing $1 billion of red tape each year, small businesses will be able to put more time, effort and resources in their ‘real’ work, rather than complying with complex and unnecessary government requirements.

The Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme will mean small businesses would no longer be disadvantaged in the ‘war for talent’, attracting and keeping quality staff.

We will also ease expense pressures on small businesses by delaying the increase of compulsory superannuation contributions to 12 per cent by a further two years.

8. Do you have a view about same-sex marriage?
There are very strong feelings on both sides of this particular issue right now. I take a conservative position on it myself. I think that we should not lightly change something which has been this way since time immemorial. But I don’t believe that I can necessarily impose my view on society for all time, all I can do is candidly and honestly tell people what my view is. I support the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. Now I know that others dispute this, because I have lots of arguments inside my own family on this subject now. But my position, it’s always been clear, it’s always been consistent, and as long as I’m in the Parliament if the issue comes up that’s the way I will vote. Whether it remains for all time the Liberal Party, and the Coalition’s position, well that will be a matter for our party, for our Coalition if it were to come up in a future Parliament.

11. Everyone is talking about the Asian Century, what does this mean for the Liberals? What are your plans?
An important element of our economic plan for Australia is to strengthen our trading relationships with Asia, welcome investment from the region, boost our exports and deepen Australia’s knowledge of and engagement with countries in Asia. We recognise the rapid emergence of both China and India and the opportunities this will afford Australia in the future.

Specifically, we will take real action to increase economic activity by fast-tracking Free Trade Agreements with China and India amongst others.

We will strengthen our diplomatic relationship and trade ties with India and boost mining exports by exporting uranium to that country.

We will help Australians gain study and work experience, strengthen the ties with the region, learn to adapt behaviour to Asian contexts and work more effectively with Asian governments.

The Coalition’s new Colombo Plan would encourage and support Australian undergraduates to study for part of their degrees in a university in the Asia-Pacific region, so promoting Australia’s deeper engagement with the region to the benefit of both.

It’s nice to see what policies a conservative would propose. We haven’t had much of that around here for a long time, have we?

The Australian election will be held on September 7th. I would appreciate it if my Australian readers can keep me informed about stories related to the election campaign.

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Global warming in the UK: coldest March in 50 years, Winter extending into Spring

From the UK Daily Mail. (H/T Doug Ross)

Excerpt:

Today is officially the first day of spring – but it will bring little respite to freezing Britain as snow continues to fall, closing schools and causing chaos on the roads.

The country is on track to suffer its coldest March in more than 50 years as conservationists warned that the prolonged winter weather was damaging wildlife.

The unrelenting cold weather is showing no signs of slowing this week as snow continues to fall across the North.

Today is the vernal equinox, traditionally regarded as the end of winter and the day that spring arrives, but the news could come as a surprise to Britons affected by the snow and cold.

More light snow will settle throughout the day in the north-east of England and eastern Scotland, adding to large amounts of up to 10cm which hit the regions yesterday.

Higher ground will see up to another 5cm, while lower areas could see around 2cm – along with parts of Northern Ireland and Wales.

[...]The Central England Temperature – covering an area bounded by Lancashire, Bristol and London – shows temperatures have been 2.8C lower than normal for the month.

The last time March was so cold was in 1962, when the average temperature was 2.4C (36F) – or 4.1C below the norm.

Meanwhile, in the midwestern United States, we get snow storms in the Spring:

Winter’s late-season grip on the nation continued into the first full week of spring with a powerful snowstorm moving east, leaving major highways closed, flights canceled and heavy accumulation in the Midwest.

The largest snowfall totals of 10 inches or more fell across Kansas and over St. Louis, Mo., before the storm began churning up the Ohio River Valley toward the East Coast on Sunday.

In the mid-Missouri town of Columbia, TV station KOMU was briefly evacuated Sunday morning because of high winds and a heavy buildup of snow on the broadcast tower next to the building.

Two distinct patterns of heavy snow were following one another across the nation’s midsection, engulfing areas of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The storm was forecast to bring heavy snow to portions of the Midwest. About 6 to 10 inches were forecast from Missouri to Ohio on Sunday. Winter storm warnings were issued for much of central Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

[...]Forecasters Sunday said travel across the Mid-Atlantic will be disrupted with slush and snow accumulating along the I-95 corridor from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. With temperatures expected to hover around freezing Monday, it was difficult for officials to be certain how quickly snow would melt.

[...]In the west, Highway I-70 was shut down from Denver — where 100 flights were canceled — into Kansas Saturday as truckers pulled off treacherous roadways and hotels quickly filled up.

Forecasters were predicting a few inches in and around the nation’s capital and further to the north in New York City. Heavier accumulation was expected in areas in between, such as Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Do you know what we need to stop this global warming? A nice carbon tax. And thankfully, Obama is working hard on that.

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Democrat senator Barbara Boxer introduces carbon tax legislation

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Today, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a bill to levy a carbon tax. But, back on Nov. 15 of last year, Pres. Obama’s press secretary promised the administration would “never” do so.

According to Reuters, the new tax law “would set a $20 tax for each ton of carbon dioxide equivalent a polluter would emit beyond a set limit, which would rise 5.6 percent annually over a 10-year period.”

Last November, however, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that would never happen:

“We would never propose a carbon tax, and have no intention of proposing one.  The point the President was making is that our focus right now is the same as the American people’s focus, which is on the need to extend economic growth, expand job creation.  And task number one is dealing with these deadlines that pose real challenges to our economy, as he talked about yesterday.”

“A carbon tax will skyrocket [the] price of everything,” a statement from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, warned today:

“It’s not just energy prices that would skyrocket from a carbon tax, the cost of nearly everything built in America would go up.”

The cost of everything is already going up because of inflation. This carbon tax is just going to make it worse, especially for the poor.

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