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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Teenage deaths, public policy and hypocrisy
Mood:  sad
Topic: aust govt

Picture: Shadow minister Greg Hunt MP significantly gets the first question of the day ahead of his own leader Tony Abbott who no doubt authorised the special prominence for his new shadow minister: Did Peter Garrett kill teenage insulation installers with a bad safety framework?


Did Peter Garrett MP, Environment Minister act soon enough and effectively on a billion dollar programme to ensure electrical safety standards on foil insulation? We defer to others on that detail.

Last week we commented both here on SAM and The Australian about the role of government in megafire fatalities through misconceived logging land use policy. More of that below.

Yesterday early morning we broadcast an email to all federal MPs which we argue is indirectly related: It's not about insulation or even Peter Garrett but it is about death and public policy: Failure of the Howard Coalition inclusive of Opposition leader Abbott as junior minister to action the Cape York Land Use Agreement of 1996, in breach of an election promise. That failure to apply $40M implementation funds surely resulted in many indigenous deaths through failed socio economic policy 1996-2007.

Abbott was a junior MP in 1996 but by 2003 Abbott was a favoured son of a PM who hooked up Australia like a rail car to the USA-Bush illegal invasion of Iraq resulting in 500,000 to 1 million death.

Then we have the Australian Building & Construction Commission star chamber process for unionists insisting on tough safety regulation and interventions. An initiative of the Howard Abbott Govt.

Then we consider cutting Australia's aid budget as suggested by Joyce for the Opposition lately: How many preventable deaths would that cause in socio economic terms amongst our near neighbours - thousands?

Token restructure of Australian climate policy by the Coalition which arguably will result in 100 million climate refugees from Shanghai to Bangladesh in the next 50 years. With grim attrition rate in the millions?

Another shocking public policy outcome alluded to above - a 50 year history of systematic removal of wet old forests and their water cycle of sopping wet undergrowth through south eastern and south western Australia to be replaced by dustry dry wildfire loving schlerophyll regrowth. Over hundreds of thousands of hectares and now in climate shift we are reaping the whirlwind.

This analysis pulls the wings off the Tony Abbott / Barnaby Joyce 'angry man' populist juggernaut. They are the problem not the solution. Ironically Garrett too has a reputation in the NSW green movement for being absent without leave on the long running saga of wet old growth forest protection. Because it exposed the ALP-CFMEU complex when he would rather discuss nuclear weapons. As head of the ACF Garrett famously refused to attend a Sydney Town Meeting criticising Premier Bob Carr. The job was left to Green MPs.

Yet how many have died from megafire in dry regrowth schlerophyll - 173 in Victoria Feb 2009 alone. But Abbott and Joyce are just as guilty in a bipartisan fashion. It's called hypocrisy and we believe the whispering in their heart adds the extra grievance in the Opposition Leader's voice on the current issue of aluminium foil insulation.

May they rest in peace - all fatal victims of public policy.

And a true accounting of the insulation rollout to 1 million homes would also consider how many lives have been saved statistically speaking from safer living temperatures in the latest summer heatwave, especially for the most infirm and vulnerable. Because heat is indeed a killer.


We also detect another impetus to the Abbott bitterness toward Garrett - apart from the symmetry of offsetting attention on risky shadow finance minister Joyce: An expert report on northern Australia agricultural expansion has come back very modest which was a big agenda of Abbott on both Indigenous employment and appeasement of National Party big agri interests. He wants revenge and Garrett will do.


We have been wondering about legal causation - as a lawyer here. Are the Government bodies who subsidise every teenage apprentice wage also responsible for guarranteeing a safe work environment or is it at first instance the small business employer? And the small business professional association of employers? Or is it the govt provider of the wage subsidy? Obviously it's the employer at first instance. Then the professional regulators of that trade sector. That seems a reasonable parallel with financial subsidy for a consumer product like insulation. 

What grates a deal with us is the notion of Kelly ODwyer MP in her maiden speech only 2 days ago 'that government can't solve every problem' and yet they are expected to be on the shoulder of every small business insulation installer. Mmm. That's not very consistent by Ms O'Dwyer even if she is a paddy.

The sad conclusion we have come to, without excusing anyone legally or morally, is that government policy deals in life and death every day. There are winners and losers for real and this life is not a read through.



Posted by editor at 8:35 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 11 February 2010 11:45 AM EADT

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