Monthly Archives: December 2008

Mandarin or doublespeak?

greatHelmsman.jpgOK. Here’s a little Christmas Quiz. Not hard, I promise

First, read this inspiring quote from our Great Helmsman as he rouses the unions with some hearty advice and a lovely big cheque for $180m of your money. He’s giving the money to them because… well, it’s a Great Australian Tradition to give big chunks of money to the motor vehicle industry when they ask for it and, after all, it’s only a tiny bit of the $6 billion prezzie he promised them a few weeks ago.

‘In the year ahead, there will be some very tough times,’ Mr Rudd said at the company announcement, flanked by thousands of auto-industry workers and their families. ‘It will be hard. There will be some cruel times. And we are in many respects in uncharted waters. But if we stick together and government continues to provide leadership in securing the nation’s future, then we will see Australia through.’  extract from: The Australian

Now, here’s the question: When the Prime Minister warns the boys at General Motors of ‘tough times’ ahead, do you think he means theirs or yours? (Hint: did you get $6 billion for Xmas?)

For bonus points: The Age newspaper says that it’s ‘substituting dogma for reality’ to criticize these subsidies because there’s every reason to think that they’ll put the industry back on it’s feet and we won’t be ‘locked-in’ to propping up General Motors. Question: Does The Age believe in the tooth-fairy? Or have they forgotten that we’ve been propping up this industry with direct subsidies, tax subsidies, high tariffs, concessional imports, import quotas and import bans since 1948?

A better way ahead for WTO

“As we have argued before, governments need to look for other options such as smaller, more manageable standalone multilateral deals.”  extract from: FT Editorial – The broken promise of Doha
A ‘smaller, stand-alone’ deal is almost certain to lead to a plurilateral agreement among a sub-set of WTO’s 153 members because it will probably not offer sufficient gain to all of them. But that’s OK in my view. It’s still a prospective way ahead.

EC cooling on Global Warming?

“Each of the 35,000 solar jobs in Germany, for instance, is subsidized to the tune of €130,000. According to estimates by the Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research, green subsidies will cost German electricity consumers nearly €27 billion in the next two years.”  extract from: Benny Peiser in the WSJ

Emission controls not warranted by facts


p>click for larger imageSome environmentalists (and The Age newspaper) are predictably crying foul at Kevin Rudd’s relatively modest White Paper option of up to 25% or 35% cuts from the estimated business as usual level of Australian GHG emissions in 2020. Nevertheless, the proposed ETS conforms to the government’s threat to “reform and transform our economy” (Climate Minister, Penny Wong), by effectively choking it just when it is running out of puff

Rug-man on climate haircut


“On Thursday the Italian premier had repeated a threat to veto the package if Italy’s demands were not met, and said in a frank exchange with journalists that he thought it was “absurd” to be talking about carbon emissions in the face of the more pressing financial crisis. “It’s like someone with pneumonia thinking about having a hairdo,” he said.”  (extract from ANSA)

Aus exports at current prices

click for larger image

Speaking of unsustainable trends …

A Pisgah sight of the Doha deal

(Update: the Ministerial meeting will not take place) Ahead of a likely attempt by WTO Minsiters to spy the promised land before the year is out In one last attempt to wrest consensus from growling discord, the (retiring) Chair of the WTO Agriculture Negotiations has released another version of his 120-page ‘modalities’ paper (.pdf, about 1mb) for the proposed Doha Round agreement on Agriculture. The Chair of the NAMA group has simultaneously released a new text on non-agricultural market access negotiations.

Predictably, the agriculture text contains new regressions—that is, new means of increasing, rather than ‘substantially reducing’ protection—that have been grafted to the proposals by an ugly sort of frankenstein surgery. Will the monster rise from the table at Ministers’ command? I hope not; I would prefer another route to the completion of Doha.


p>This is Ambassador Crawford Falconer’s last attempt to lead WTO members out of the wilderness. He has done his best with an impossible brief: to make an agreement among governments that don’t agree.

“Everything is conditional in the deepest sense in any case. But the changes made at this time now represent a best estimate of where there is additional good reason to believe there would prove to be consensus if everything was to come together as a modalities package.” (extract from Crawford Falconer’s press release)

A short list of the changes (I can’t call them highlights) I’ve noticed in the agriculture text follows