Every Parliament Needs One

Thus begins a journey of a thousand miles—with a single step.

You may recall back here I introduced you to David Leyonhjelm, newly-elected Australian Federal Senator from New South Wales, representing the Liberal Democratic Party, Australia’s primary Libertarian political party. Having taken his seat on 1 July, yesterday he gave his maiden speech to the Senate. Dare we hope it presages a revolution, in Australia at least?

Here, without further commentary from me, is the text of that speech, reproduced in full. You can access the original transcript in the Australian Hansard. Readers of LibertyGibbert overseas, read it and envy us…

The PRESIDENT (16:59): Order! Before I call Senator Leyonhjelm, I remind honourable senators that this is his first speech and, therefore, I ask that the usual courtesies be extended to him.

Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (16:59): Thank you, Mr President. Fellow senators and Australians, last September the people of Australia chose 40 men and women to represent them here, together with the 36 elected three years earlier—just 571 Australians have been granted this high honour. We come from diverse backgrounds and occupations. Beyond this place, each of us has been tempered by the challenges of life.
We have all tasted the bitterness of failure and exhilaration of success. Whatever our political alignments, that experience will have imparted in us a collective accumulation of knowledge, judgement, wisdom and instinct that should serve our country well. Indeed, we are the most representative swill ever assembled.

I also believe we are about to begin one of the most exciting periods in the life of the Senate. In the service of this mission, at the outset I declare that I am proudly what some call a ‘libertarian’, although I prefer the term ‘classical liberal’. My undeviating political philosophy is grounded in the belief that, as expressed so clearly by John Stuart Mill:

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully ever exercised over any member of a civilised society against his will is to prevent harm to others.

I pledge to work tirelessly to convince my fellow Australians and their political representatives that our governments should forego their overgoverning, overtaxing and overriding ways. Governments should instead seek to constrain themselves to what John Locke advised so wisely more than 300 years ago—the protection of life, liberty and private property.

When I was elected nine months ago, and my party’s policies became better known, there was a wave of rejoicing in certain circles. When I said I would never vote for an increase in taxes or a reduction in liberty, there were people who said there was finally going to be someone in parliament worth voting for. That was quite a compliment. What they, and I, believe in is limited government. We differ from left-wing people who want the
government to control the economy but not our social lives, and from right-wing people who want the government to control our social lives but not the economy. Classical liberals support liberty across the board.

I have long thought that leaving people alone is the most reasonable position to take. I always suspected that I did not know enough to allow me to tell other people how to live their lives. But that did not arise in the background, so a bit of explanation is necessary. I never liked being told what to do, and I tend to assume others feel the same. The simple rule do not do unto others what you would rather them not do to you has always driven
my thinking. At least since I reached adulthood I have also accepted responsibility for myself and expected others to do the same. Even when my choices have been poor, as they inevitably were at times, I do not recall being tempted to blame others or to consider myself a victim.

During my early years, the issues that raised my blood pressure were those of individual freedom. But for the election of the Whitlam government, I would have either served two years in jail or in the Army. I refused to register for national service. Being forced to serve in the Army, with the potential to be sent to Vietnam, was a powerful education in excessive government power.

The abortion issue was also controversial at the time. There were doctors and women being prosecuted over what were obviously difficult private choices. Backyard abortions were common. I knew some women affected and could never see how the jackboot of government improved things. I also noticed that those opposed to abortion or in favour of conscription were not interested in trying to debate their opponents; instead they sought to seize the levers of government and impose their views on everyone else.

As my family never had much money, I used to think spreading other people’s money around was a good way to make life fairer. As the saying goes, ‘If you’re not a socialist at 20 you have no heart, but if you’re still a socialist at 40 you have no brains.’ By that standard I hope I have preserved a bit of both. Not long after I started full-time work as a veterinarian, I recall looking at my annual tax return and being horrified at the amount of
money I had handed over to the government. When I looked for signs of value for that money, I found little to reassure me. To this day I am still looking.

Our liberty is eroded when our money is taken as taxes and used on something we could have done for ourselves at lower cost. It is eroded when our taxes are used to pay for things that others will provide, whether on a charitable basis or for profit. That includes TV and radio stations, electricity services, railways, bus services, and of course, schools and hospitals. It is eroded when our money is taken and then returned to us as welfare, with the only real beneficiaries being the public servants who administer its collection and distribution. It is eroded when our money is used on things that are a complete waste like pink batts, unwanted school halls and accommodation subsidies for wealthy foreign students. It is eroded when the money we have earned is taken and given to those of
working age who simply choose never to work. Reducing taxes, any kind of taxes, will always have my support. And I will always oppose measures that restrict free markets and hobble entrepreneurship.

But the cause of liberty is challenged in other ways as well. Liberty is eroded when our cherished right to vote is turned into an obligation and becomes a crime when we do not do it. It is eroded when we are unable to marry the person of our choice, whatever their gender. It is eroded when, if we choose to end our life, we must do it before we become feeble and need help, because otherwise anyone who helps us commits a crime. It is eroded when we cannot speak or write freely out of fear someone will choose to take offence. Free speech is fundamental to liberty, and it is not the government’s role to save people from their feelings. Liberty is eroded when we are prohibited from doing something that causes harm to nobody else, irrespective of whether we personally approve or would do it ourselves. I do not use marijuana and do not recommend it except for medical reasons, but it is a matter of choice. I do not smoke and I drink very little, but it is unreasonable for smokers and drinkers to be punished for their alleged excesses via so-called sin taxes. Liberty includes the right to make bad choices.

Quite a few people say they support liberal values but claim there are valid exemptions. The most common one is security or safety, something that has become pervasive during the so-called war on terror. As William Pitt the Younger observed:

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

Perhaps some are scratching their heads right now. How can someone support marriage equality, assisted suicide and want to legalise pot but also want to cut taxes a lot? If you are scratching your heads, it is because you have forgotten that classical liberal principles were at the core of the Enlightenment, the period that gifted us humanity’s greatest achievements in science, medicine and commerce and also brought about the abolition of

Classical liberals do not accept that there are any exemptions from the light of liberty, but we are not anarchists. We accept there is a proper role for government—just that it is considerably less than the role currently performed. Government can be a wonderful servant but a terrible master—something leading Enlightenment figures, like John Locke, realised. John Locke’s view of the role of the state was starkly different from that of
another important philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes thought the natural state of man was perpetual war, with life nasty, brutish and short. In his view, the only way to achieve civilisation was to relinquish all liberties to the sovereign who then allowed us certain rights as he chose. Hobbes is also known for arguing the sovereign should rule with due regard for the desires of the people. There is no doubting though where he thought ultimate power resided or rights originated.

Locke was much more optimistic. Man is peaceful and industrious, he argued. But to establish a society in which private property can be protected it is necessary to relinquish certain liberties to the sovereign. However, this is a limited and conditional arrangement. Only sufficient powers as required for the preservation of life, liberty and property ought to be relinquished and ultimate power remain with the people. If the sovereign gets too
controlling, those powers can be reclaimed. Locke was heavily influenced the American Declaration of Independence. As many here will recognise, it says:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …

When it says ‘all men are created equal’ it does not mean everyone is the same or that everyone should achieve the same outcome in life but that no individual or class enjoys moral or legal superiority over other individuals or classes. When it says ‘we are endowed with inalienable rights’ it means rights that cannot be taken from us. Good governments can help protect our rights by reflecting them in governance, but they do not get to dole them out piecemeal. Bad governments may seek to legislate away our rights, but only by usurping them.

The right to life is obviously the most fundamental right of all and no government should ever seek to deprive us of that. That includes not only arbitrary killing but also judicial killing. Likewise, it includes the right to protect your own life and that of others, for which there must be a practical means—not merely an emergency number to call. Self-defence, both in principle and in practice, is a right, not a privilege.

Liberty is not a cake with only so many slices to go around. It only makes sense when the freedom of one person does not encroach upon that of others, but instead reinforces it. Thus it is perfectly legitimate for governments to place limits on things done by a person that limit other people’s freedom. Those include such things as violence, threats, theft and fraud. It is not, however, legitimate for government to involve itself in things that an individual voluntarily does to himself or herself, or that people choose to do to each other by mutual consent, when nobody else is harmed. It is quite irrelevant whether we approve of those things or would choose to do them ourselves. Tolerance is central to the concept of liberty. It may matter to our parents, friends or loved ones, but it should not matter to the government. Those things belong in the private realm.

This distinction between the public and private realms can be traced all the way back to the ancient Greeks and is well known in Roman or civil law. Some things fall within the legitimate scope of government, some do not. The Declaration of Independence also says ‘governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers’. That means: when governments act to secure rights they are acting justly and when they move to violate those rights they are acting unjustly. They derive that legitimacy from the consent of the governed in places like this. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.

Australia does not have the equivalent of the Declaration of Independence, a bill of rights or even a history of resistance against authoritarian government. The Eureka Stockade, which was prompted by excessive taxation and oppressive enforcement, is about all we have. That makes it especially important that those in places like this understand the only thing standing between an authoritarian state and the protection of life, liberty and private
property is a vote in parliament. We must never forget that we are the people’s servants. This means we must be willing to take a light touch and to de-legislate, to repeal. As much as possible, people need to be able to choose for themselves and be free to choose, for good or for ill.

For that reason, some may think of these as being peculiarly American words, but the ideas have their origins in the Scottish Enlightenment. Although it sometimes seems Scotland has produced nothing but incomprehensible socialists, it also gave rise to the modern world’s most liberty-affirming thinkers. Among them was David Hume, who argued that the presence or absence of liberty was the standard by which one ought to assess the past. And on the subject of property, he said:

No one can doubt, that the convention for the distinction of property, and for the stability of possession, is of all circumstances the most necessary to the establishment of human society, and that after the agreement for the fixing and observing of this rule, there remains little or nothing to be done towards settling a perfect harmony and concord.

I do not think the Americans disagreed with the Scots on the importance of private property when they substituted the pursuit of happiness, but, if they did, I would side with the Scots!

Notwithstanding my earlier comments, I am not a student of philosophy. While Locke, Adam Smith and Mill have their place in my thinking, along with Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, I consider the Enlightenment to be part of Australia’s political and intellectual heritage: it does not belong to the Scots, the Americans, or the French.

While I sit in the federal parliament, I do not approve of the extent of its power. Liberty is more secure when power is shared with state governments, independently funded and competing with each other to be more attractive to Australians as places to live and do business, and, of course, each doing their bit to protect life, liberty, and property.

On the subject of private property, there is much today with which Locke would find fault. Rather than protecting private property, governments federal and state have been retreating from this core duty. The property rights of rural landowners have been undermined by bans on clearing native vegetation, imposed at the behest of the Commonwealth in order to meet the terms of a treaty Australia had yet to ratify. Over and over, the value of property is indirectly eroded through government decisions, and typically without compensation. In enacting plain-packaging laws on cigarettes, for example, the previous government destroyed valuable intellectual property. No matter what you think of smoking, it does not justify destruction of property.

We trade years of our lives to pay for the things that we own, and, when governments take them from us or try to tell us what to do with them, we lose part of ourselves. And yet, when it comes to property that we own in common, like national parks and fishing grounds, we are often locked out on the claim that nature is far too important to let scruffy humans enjoy it. Whilst in this place, I will do all I can to oppose this trend. Environmental fanatics are not omniscient geniuses: they do not know enough to tell other people how to live their lives any more than I do. Indeed, they are the same people who engage in anti-GMO pseudoscience—pseudoscience that is not just nonsense but murderous nonsense.

The Liberal Democrats are strong advocates of capitalism. But, before capitalism, we are advocates of freedom. When people are free and entrepreneurial, free-market capitalism and prosperity are what follow. However, I am pragmatic enough to recognise that two steps forwards require one step backwards. I am only one vote, and one voice.

I am also aware that some senators in this place share my views but are constrained from speaking openly. Whatever party you are in, if you believe in making the pie bigger rather than arguing about how it is cut up, we have plenty in common. To all of you, I would say this: when any specific issue arises—be it legislation or advocacy—that advances the cause of liberty, if I can say or do something to help, you only need to ask. In my party, the only discipline I am likely to suffer will be due to not pursuing liberty enough!

I have pursued liberty through membership of the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the shooters party, so I can say with confidence the Liberal Democrats do not seek power to impose our views on the nation. All our policies are about freedom—the absence of control by others. We seek to have representatives elected in order to restrict the power of the state over individuals, to encourage the government to do less, not more.

I have one matter to address before I close. It is traditional in first speeches to thank those who contributed to one’s being here. I acknowledge that it would not have happened without the help of a number of people. First and foremost is my friend and colleague Peter Whelan. Peter and I have been a tag team ever since 2005, when I introduced him to the Liberal Democratic Party. If Peter had not decided to join, I might never have got involved myself. Peter is perpetually optimistic and willing to help, and has chipped in with even more money than me. One of my enduring regrets is, in failing to submit our preferences in Victoria on time, I destroyed any chance of him also being elected to the Senate.

There are others in the party who deserve thanks. I am reluctant to name them as I am sure to miss out on some, but long-term supporter David McAlary warrants a mention. I also want to thank those libertarians who established the party in 2001 and contributed so much to its principles and direction. I also thank my employee Michelle, who has helped in many ways. I thank my friends and colleagues in business, who never let me take
myself too seriously. Finally, I would like to thank my wife of 30 years, Amanda. She has long humoured and tolerated my political activities, never sure if any of it mattered but now immensely proud that it does. I view my election as an opportunity to help Australia rediscover its reliance on individualism, to reignite the flame of entrepreneurship, and to return government to its essential functions. There is much to be done.


This entry was posted in Libertarianism, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Every Parliament Needs One

  1. meltemian says:

    Wow Oz’ If only there were more David Leyonhjelms in government!!
    You’re right, I’m very, very jealous; in fact if I hadn’t already moved to Greece I’d probably think Australia just might be the place to go.
    Lets just hope the word spreads (although it seems unlikely to spread as far as the UK) too many turkeys. I’d just like us to leave the EU for a start.
    Thank you for posting this, it’s made my morning.

    I feel as though he has summed up the last four years of this blog, all in one hit. Now they have a national platform, I believe his ideas just might catch on – Oz

  2. Good for Oz. (Both of them.)

    …And you were right about Blairs smile. 😉

    The comparison does suggest itself, doesn’t it? Oz


  3. catweazle666 says:

    Good stuff that.

    What a pity there aren’t more of him about.

    Maybe his success will encourage a few more to run for office – Oz

  4. karabar says:

    It was only after about 150 reiterations of preferences that the nasty Bogan Lambie won over the Liberal Democrat in Tasmania.

    155 counts, to be precise.

    I agree, she’s clueless and dangerous, but no more dangerous than her boss, as long as she continues to obey his orders (and he’s still around to issue them). To be fair, she did poll 21,794 primary votes, or 45.2% of a quota. So her claim to legitimacy is better than a number of her senate colleagues – Oz

  5. Ozboy says:

    Ahh – I was hoping for this…

    Andrew Bolt takes David Leyonhjelm to task about his article today arguing for same-sex marriage. If it is a private matter as Leyonhjelm suggests, argues Bolt, then how can you not also legalize consensual polygamous marriage? And even incestuous marriage?

    This echoes my own comments on the subject back here. I’ll wait for any replies before I comment further.

  6. farmerbraun says:

    It could be construed as an argument for ending any state involvement in private contracts couldn’t it? The end of the “necessity” for state involvement in “marriage”, right?

    Yep, I recall you (and Tucci) saying that at the time. And if marriage is in fact purely private and contractual in nature, then you are absolutely right. A big “if”, though – Oz

  7. Ozboy says:

    I saw this comment this morning at Catallaxy on the subject:

    If Leyonhjelm was serious about getting the State out of marriage, he’d be pushing to repeal the Marriage Act.

    And earlier in the same thread:

    …the best possible outcome is that mention of marriage be struck from the Constitution.

    Which, if marriage really has nothing to do with the state, maybe he should. That’s the logic of his position, after all.

  8. farmerbraun says:

    Marriage does have nothing to do with the state. But protection of minors is clearly a state function, and that opens a real can of worms in respect of gender identity.

    “Marriage has nothing to do with the state”

    “But protection of minors is clearly a state function”

    And there’s the problem. Compared to it, gender identity is a minor issue – Oz

  9. farmerbraun says:

    Well I was wondering whether or not a child brought up in a same-sex “marriage” has a right to experience a parent of the same gender as , and the opposite gender to, the child’s.
    Maybe “mother and “father” are out-dated concepts.
    Care-givers , egg-donors and sperm-donors. Sounds so much better , don’t it?

    That’s a separate issue, but a legitimate one and worthy of debate. But to suggest that out loud is to invite accusations of every “-ism” in the PC lexicon – Oz

  10. Ozboy says:

    In fact, further to my response to FB, this is an area where, frankly, Libertarians have not done a particularly sterling job of explaining themselves to the wider community.

    Let’s say we decide as a society that yes, marriage is a strictly private affair. We repeal the Marriage Act, and pass a referendum to alter the Constitution, eliminating any reference to marriage altogether (that’s the process in Australia, it may vary in your country). Marriage, henceforth, is no business of the state whatsoever. So the following year, a man and a woman (or two men, or three women, or four of each, whatever) sign a common law contract with each other for a relationship that spells out obligations and rights of each party. For five years, it all works out fine. Then a child is born. Then one or more parties subsequently leave the relationship and negate the contract, which unfortunately, while it had very clear exit clauses for each party, did not anticipate the relationship ending after children were introduced (marriage contracts vary, remember the state can no longer mandate their content, and some are drawn up by incompetents) and custody is hotly disputed.

    Oh well, in that case just let the Family Court sort it out. But hang on: there isn’t a Family Court any more. We got rid of that when we ditched the Marriage Act. The state no longer wants to know. Sort it out amongst yourselves, says the government. So what then? Privately commissioned arbitration? What if the parties cannot agree on an arbitrator? How many of you have seen the inside of a Family Court? It can get mighty ugly in there. Do you go along with Murray Rothbard who, in The Ethics Of Liberty, regarded children prior to their ability to exercise positive ownership of self as little better than chattels:

    Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive. (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g. by not feeding it)? The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such “neglect” down to a minimum.)

    Do you really believe our society would ever come to accept this view of children?

    Rothbard (ibid. ch 14, “Children and Liberty”) quotes Locke, whose opinion is clearly underwritten by a concrete conception of marriage:

    Children I confess are not born in this full state of equality (of right to their natural freedom), though they are born to it. Their parents have a sort of rule and jurisdiction over them when they come into the world, and for some time after, but ’tis but a temporary one. The bonds of this subjection are like the swaddling clothes they are wrapt up in, and supported by, in the weakness of their infancy. Age and reason as they grow up, loosen them till at length they drop quite off, and leave a man at his own free disposal.

    Therefore, I do not believe that, even in an ideal Libertarian society, the state could ever realistically disentangle itself from the institution of marriage (a social institution, by almost all constructs) without simultaneously abandoning its traditional rôle as the protector of last resort of children. For the state to move on the former without the latter, it would then become a fundamental violator of property rights.

    I sincerely hope DL doesn’t impale himself, and his cause along with it, on the logic of private marriages.

    UPDATE: blogger Dover Beach puts it far more articulately than I ever could. One comment also pointed to this essay by Roger Scruton, which is well worth a look.

  11. izen says:

    Completely off topic..
    I stumbled across this, thought it might be of interest to Oz.


    The figures show that Tasmanian hydro generators have been selling electricity into the mainland market at unprecedented rates, drawing down storage levels dramatically since the carbon price was implemented in July 2012.
    Levels in the Gordon, which has almost 1/3 the total storage capacity, are down to near 20% – levels not seen since the Millennium drought despite significantly above average catchment rainfalls over the last year. …
    With no significant extra cost on the generation side, Hydro Tasmania’s before tax profit doubled to $238 million in 20012-13 on the back of a revenue rise of $1 billion to $1.57 billion. Of course, with the majority of that hydro generation still being served into Tasmania, the large part of that profit will have been borne by Tasmanian consumers.

  12. karabar says:

    The figures are correct. However, it doesn’t account for the output of TVPS which was 1.5 terrawatt-hours per year. This is about 30% of State consumption. The effect has been an asset transfer from Vic and SA because of the tax on air. So about $200M pa was aded to State revenue courtesy of State electricity consumers but more importantly consumers on the mainland.

  13. izen says:

    Obviously there is dispute about whether the ‘tax on air’ is a justifiable imposition of an external cost in line with the many necessary mechanism, cap and trade, emissions tax and outright regulation or prohibition, that have been employed before to deal with the external costs of private industry. {grin}

    However, setting aside that aspect, the underlying situation seems to be that Tasmania can always undercut the cost of generation of the coal fired plants in Victoria. The only time that Tasmania imports the more expensive electricity from the mainland is when drought/mismanagement has reduced water storage levels below the point Tasmanian hydro can meet demand. The TVPS is a backup for hydro shortages, and probably still undercuts the coal-fired mainland price if the Basslink distribution cost were not a factor.

    So Tasmania benefits from a cheap renewable energy source even without the CO2 emissions costs imposed. If rainfall is sufficient it can redistribute the wealth in SA to Tasmania. Or at least to whatever institutions have the claim on those profits. The ‘distortion’ of the market from the tax on air merely served to improve the financial advantage Tasmania enjoys in this market. An improvement that they seem to have exploited very effectively, even if the external ‘cost’ has been running the water storage down to drought levels during a relatively ‘wet’ period.

    This aspect of energy generation is one I have been watching, as in the absence of any effective political action to adapt to the possible impacts of AGW (never mind mitigation!), the market forces within the energy generation-use industry will shape future emissions.
    When PV, wind, hydro and efficiency improvements undercut coal and oil generation costs, then a transition to a low carbon generation system can be rapid and coerced only by the ‘invisible hand’ of economic self-interest.
    And opposed only by those with vested interests in the status quo and the political power to exploit regulatory capture.

    The imposition of charges on consumers who dare to become (micro)producers to avoid paying for home generated power they can add to the system was an inevitable response from the big producers to the changes in the technology and systems that are inevitable. A counterstrike to attempts to encourage and speed the change by subsidy from other elements of the political system. Which I gather has resulted in around 2% of electricity generation now being solar in Australia and rising rapidly, with a significant part of that private home generation.


    I did have a little fun with the impact of energy storage advances a while ago. perhaps it is time to update it.

    remove this bit to get to link

    hopefully that will prevent it playing in the blog!

    I did post an on topic response to DL and same-sex marriage issue before this diversion but it seems to have got bounced….?

    Not seen it yet Izen – spam queue is empty. Try again?

    Oh and I’ve enabled your YouTube – I think I’ve told you before, your embeds are fine and most welcome here. Even if you are just winding the rest of us up – Oz

    UPDATE – now that you’re channelling the future, here’s the aforesaid Mr. Gore, teleported from the same year…

  14. karabar says:

    PV and wind will never undercut coal fired generation without government influence. The only reason Hydro Tasmania can generate efficiently is its legacy infrastructure. New hydro, if the approvals were ever issued could never compete with coal. For instance, the proposed BC Hydro Site C is expected to generate at a cost of $95/MW-Hr. At least three times the cost of generation using USC steam generation.

  15. karabar says:

    Your are correct in that TVPS is essentially a drought indemnity; nevertheless we operated continuously from commissioning in 2009 until the price of gas in Victoria rose so that hydro could benefit more from selling energy as natural gas in Victoria than it could by using it to generate electricity. Even at low the price of gas in the current take or pay contract, we could still not compete with Loy Yang, regardless of transmission costs. Close, but not quite.

  16. izen says:

    “PV and wind will never undercut coal fired generation without government influence. ”

    That depends how you measure it.
    The cheapest coal generation is with dirty coal on a very large scale with zero transport costs. The generators at the open cast/surface strip mine.
    But for a consumer, the price that such a coal generator can economically deliver power to the consumer CAN be undercut by PVs for the high cost daytime power required to run aircon. Just when solar is most productive.

    It is the complexities of variable demand and distribution costs interacting with falling costs of renewable tech against rising costs of fossil fuels that will inevitably reverse the advantages of dirty coal.
    Eventually it will only be able to undercut newer technologies by exerting its political influence to gain exemption from pollution controls that every other generation method abides by, and special permissions to build large-scale infrastructure and engage in hard-rock mining without the insurance costs or environmental protection imposed on other industries.

    That’s the only way I can see commercial solar ever becoming viable – there to handle peak loads in summer. Whether the figures for doing only that, with no contribution to baseload, will ever add up to viability, I don’t know. Perhaps a generational advance in technology – Oz

  17. izen says:

    I recognise that OZboy has posted this as a celebration of the election of a politician with political views he shares, rather than as an invitation to explore the features and flaws of Libertarianism. The hypersensitivity to ‘gubbermunt’ interference, and apparent myopia to the coercion (overt and subtle) from business interests. It seems in the US companies can now hold religious beliefs that impact on how the employees are treated, or even discriminate between its customers.

    @- farmerbraun
    “Maybe “mother and “father” are out-dated concepts.”

    It used to take a village….

    Or at least an extended family where childcare was often the duty of the older children.
    The isolated dyad is a relatively recent social construct.

    however the public declaration of mutual commitment has deep social roots. Theoretical arguments that it could be disentangled from the soil of social governance are unlikely to gain much traction. Quite apart from the functional utility of the practise as a means of coercing biological parents to care for their children.

    But the same-sex marriage issue is really only relevant as a tribal flag.

    That is why I find it interesting that DL chose to raise the same-sex marriage issue, perhaps as an intentional challenge to the conservatives who might have thought he was ‘one of them’ given his political stance on economics and markets.
    It is the issue that the Christian right in the US has taken as the key test of whether you are a ‘True Christian’.
    Rather as it did 150 years ago with slavery.

    In those societies where same-sex marriage has been possible for some time the sky has not fallen. the numbers involved are small and the implications and impact of childcare issues iare negligible.
    Despite the ‘think of the likle chillen’ being a rhetorical trope in the arguments over this.

    While much of western culture is in the process of liberalising its position on sexual matters, there are conservative forces (Russia?) often religiously motivated (Islam) which are shifting the other way in response. The claim seems to be that such western liberalism is a sign of a decadent, corrupt and failing society. The final step before its imminent collapse.
    Although it is very difficult to find an example of a dictatorial, authoritarian society that suppressed the diversity of human sexual behaviour which can boast of stable longevity.

    I cannot avoid the suspicion that DL has raised the same-sex marriage tribal flag to distance himself from the conservatives with whom he may seem to share an economic political ideology, and make himself more appealing and in line with the progressive, even ‘left wing’ and ongoing generational change in attitudes on this subject.

    Not quite. I certainly welcome differences of opinion. And as you may have gleaned from my longer comment above, the position of children is one area where I have deep reservations WRT “mainstream” Libertarian thought. DL I don’t think has proposed reforms to the Marriage Act to distance himself from the conservatives. He did that long ago, noisily departing the Liberal Party in 1996 over the issue of firearms control. If you’re looking for a motive, it may be he believes it is something concrete he can achieve right now. But it’s a long shot. The bill could never pass until the Coalition grants its MHRs a conscience vote on the issue, as Labor currently does. Rumour is that Abbott himself favours a conscience vote (his own sister is a lesbian, and he has long-term close friendships with several gays and transsexuals), but we’ll see – Oz

  18. karabar says:

    “That depends how you measure it.”
    It has nothing to do with “how you measure it”. It has to do with practicality. PV and wind are practically useless. Neither can exist without fossil fuel backup, unless consumers are willing to accept interruptible and poor quality power………and they aren’t.

  19. Ozboy says:

    Another Libertarian outs himself – new Liberal Senator James McGrath in his maiden speech today (will link to Hansard transcript when it becomes available).

    Update 17 Jul 0857: here’s the transcript. Maybe more Libertarians to appear?

  20. farmerbraun says:

    Did he really say “ying and yang” ?

    Not watched the video yet… maybe a transcription error? Oz 😆

  21. Ozboy says:

    DL wasn’t always the most popular chap about… due apparently to his approach to party politics, back in the NSW Shooters Party, he was nicknamed after a certain European TV character. See if you can guess who.


  22. farmerbraun says:


    Many thanks FB – I’ve been out the back cutting wood and didn’t hear the announcement. I’ve also alerted JD – Oz

    A moment to savour.

  23. Ozboy says:

    27 Australian nationals were among the 298 passengers killed aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine, it appears by Russian-backed separatists, employing a Russian military surface-to-air missile.

    Tony Abbott has reportedly summoned Vladimir Morozov, the Russian ambassador in Canberra, to Parliament House to demand an assurance that the Russian government will cooperate fully with international air crash investigators. This comes amid unconfirmed reports that the black box aboard MH17 has been seized by those who shot it down and has been transported to Moscow.

    I don’t like what I see hurtling toward the rotary blades.

    Kill the bastards

    Australian passport found among the wreckage of Flight MH17

    Here’s the sort of leadership the free world needs right now – and doesn’t have (H/T Catallaxy)

  24. Ozboy says:

    The known nationalities of the victims so far:

    154 Dutch
    43 Malaysians
    27 Australians
    12 Indonesians
    9 Britons
    4 Germans
    4 Belgians
    3 Filipinos
    1 Canadian
    41 unverified nationalities

    Apparently the Amsterdam-KL route was a favourite for Dutch tourists en route to Asia and Australia. No American nationals have yet been confirmed among the dead, and I hope that fact is not jumped on by the American President as an excuse to dismiss this as a morally-neutral “tragedy”, and not the criminal outrage that it is.

    What information do you think he will “transmit to Vladimir” this time?

  25. Ozboy says:

    Sigh… in the absence of American leadership of the free world in the wake of the MH17 terrorist outrage, it appears it is left up to her allies to pick up her torch of Liberty amidst the growing darkness.

    Well: so be it. We now have a seat on the UN Security Council, and must use it to its utmost extent. Perhaps we will end up thanking Kevin Rudd for one thing at least.

    Update 17 Jul 1015: Tony Abbott is reportedly considering disinviting Putin to the G20 summit which is being held in Brisbane in November. When asked about this by a journalist, Abbott replied, I will be making a range of phone calls over the next few days. I don’t want to go into whom I might be speaking to.

  26. izen says:

    The old Raygun also said this about the other passenger plane shot down during his presidency with 290 deaths.

    “I am saddened to report that it appears that in a proper defensive action by the U.S.S. Vincennes this morning in the Persian Gulf an Iranian airliner was shot down over the Strait of Hormuz. This is a terrible human tragedy. Our sympathy and condolences go out to the passengers, crew, and their families. The Defense Department will conduct a full investigation.”

    You cut off Reagan’s quote at a fortuitous point. An innocent oversight on your part, I’m sure. I’m not in the habit of correcting posters’ work, school-master-like, but on this occasion, in the interests of historical accuracy I’ll complete the quote where you left off:

    We deeply regret any loss of life. The course of the Iranian civilian airliner was such that it was headed directly for the U.S.S. Vincennes, which was at the time engaged with five Iranian Boghammer boats that had attacked our forces.

    When the aircraft failed to heed repeated warnings, the Vincennes followed standing orders and widely publicized procedures, firing to protect itself against possible attack.
    The only U.S. interest in the Persian Gulf is peace, and this reinforces the need to achieve that goal with all possible speed.

    The investigation {at least the bits made public} concluded that –
    “The data from USS Vincennes tapes, information from USS Sides and reliable intelligence information, corroborate the fact that [Iran Air Flight 655] was on a normal commercial air flight plan profile, in the assigned airway, squawking Mode III 6760, on a continuous ascent in altitude from take-off at Bandar Abbas to shoot-down.”
    … the U.S. government stated in a written answer that they believed the incident may have been caused by a simultaneous psychological condition amongst the 18 bridge crew of the Vincennes called ‘scenario fulfillment’, which is said to occur when persons are under pressure. In such a situation, the men will carry out a training scenario, believing it to be reality while ignoring sensory information that contradicts the scenario. In the case of this incident, the scenario was an attack by a lone military aircraft

    Not excusing that one in the slightest. The Americans were rightly condemned around the world for that clusterf#$%.

    Doesn’t change the situation, though. Nor are the two comparable in any way. The Americans deduced the plane they shot down with a guided missile was an Iranian fighter jet. Dumb, but that was 1988 technology for you. The Russian pilot who shot down KAL007, on the other hand, had visual confirmation of a Boeing 747 with all navigational lights on. He knew perfectly well what he was doing, and repeatedly questioned the order to shoot it down before ultimately complying.

    One was a terrible mistake, which should never have happened. The other, a deliberate act of mass murder. Do you seriously not understand the difference? Oz

  27. Ozboy says:

    Malaysia Airlines have issued a revised list of nationalities of the victims, based on the passenger manifest:

    Netherlands: 189
    Malaysia: 44
    Australia: 27
    Indonesia: 12
    UK: 9
    Belgium: 4
    Germany: 4
    Philippines: 3
    Canada: 1
    New Zealand: 1
    Still unknown: 4

    I knew one of the Australians killed, albeit distantly and many years ago: a woman who devoted her entire life to the service of others. There were researchers on their way to a HIV/AIDS conference in Melbourne. Seasoned professionals, as well as young adults just starting out in life, children and even babies. The scale of the loss to the world will never be known.

  28. Ozboy says:

    To be clear: I don’t believe the Russian government deliberately conspired to murder 300 innocent people. Putin is brutal enough to be responsible, to be sure. But it would have been an act of insanity, likely to turn the entire world against him and his nation. And Putin is definitely not insane.

    But what they did is, in many respects, even more culpable, from the point of view of a nation-state. They armed a group of neighbouring separatist rebels who, if not insane, might as well be. When Australian journalist Paul McGeouch encountered the rebels earlier this year, he reported that they were ill-disciplined, carelessly brandishing firearms in his face and that of his female photographer, were visibly drunk and/or flying on drugs. And these were the nutters the Russian government had issued (and presumably trained up on) high-tech, lethal weaponry such as the SA-11 Buk surface-to-air missile system that was used in the attack on flight MH17.


    Leader of the Ukranian separatists Alexander Borodai at the crash site

    So when irresponsible lunatics like this go and shoot down a passenger aircraft, irrespective of whether they mistook it in their drug haze for something else, should we not assign an even greater portion of the blame to the authorities that armed them to the teeth? That is the charge of which Putin today stands accused.

  29. izen says:

    Over a hundred civilian flights a day were apparently using this airspace because it had been classified as safe above 32,000ft.
    Presumably on the basis that the rebel separatists had no access or ability to use the sort of missile systems that could threaten aircraft above 30,000ft.

    However in the conflict between the main Ukrainian regime and the pro-Russian militias the best successes the rebels have has been in shooting down Ukrainian helicopters and transport planes. I wonder if rebels wanted better ordinance to pursue this tactic, and asked their Russian Nationalist backers to help.

    Recently there has been increased security in civilian flights because of information that Islamist groups were trying to find a way of putting bombs on planes. Those groups have a specific intention to target international civilians. In this case the intercepted rebel coms indicate they thought they had got a military transport, until they found the bodies. The extreme immoral stupidity that led to this atrocity was that nobody involved in making the missile system available or using it ever considered that it could or would do anything other than score a win against the Ukrainian aircraft.

    Expect lots of conspiracy stories and obfuscation. Any sanctions against the Russians as sponsors of the culpable will stop short of having a significant impact for the same reason that the Saud sponsors of groups who are trying to commit an atrocity like this escape censure.

    It looks like the Israeli actions will take another few days to match the child death numbers of the shot down plane. Which are similarly unintentional….

    The irresponsibility, or lack of foresight, you mention was the point of my last post. The Russian government should have anticipated that something like this could have happened, and IMHO are criminally negligent for failing to do so – Oz

  30. Ozboy says:

    This is the sort of people we are talking about here. Reports are that all wallets and mobile phones have been looted by rebels from the crash site. “Trophies” are being displayed on social media. The more we read about this, the harder it will become for the apologists of those that committed this massacre, and those who enabled it.

  31. Ozboy says:

    I’m finding this twinning of pictures a very effective way of illustrating a point.

    The world’s airlines are avoiding the eastern Ukraine like the plague. Here’s a screen grab from Flight Radar 24 which shows just how this is affecting the whole country. What must be the impact on the economy of the Ukraine generally?


  32. Ozboy says:

    Tony Abbott reveals his own daughters flew this route some months ago. My own sister and her husband did so just two weeks ago. This whole thing hits very close to home.

  33. Ozboy says:

    It’s not often I disagree with Andrew Bolt, but I think the bellicosity of his column in the Melbourne Herald-Sun today doesn’t help things. I suspect he’s arguing from emotion – eminently understandable, given that nearly 200 Dutchmen died, along with over 30 Australians (Andrew’s parents were Dutch immigrants and he has strong ties of family, friends and language with that country). But irrespective of how emotionally satisfying it may be to vent in that manner, the priorities of the West must be, in the first instance, the repatriation of the bodies of the dead, a full investigation into the shooting down of flight MH17, and justice for those responsible; and secondly and more long-term, an effective and coherent diplomatic response to a dangerously unstable geopolitical predicament in the Ukraine.


    Dutch paper De Telegraaf accuses the rebels explicitly: MURDERERS

    Unlike other flashpoints such as in Syria, Gaza and Iraq, the crisis in the Ukraine threatens the economy and welfare of Europe directly, given that Global Warming doesn’t seem to have arrived there yet (witness British hysteria over its so-called “heatwave”), it will be getting distinctly chilly there in about twelve weeks, and continental Europe obtains most of its oil and natural gas through Russia. Calling for the West to “muscle up” to Putin doesn’t add much constructive to the debate. But given that Tony Abbott is so far the only Western leader to express unequivocal outrage at this act of mass murder, Russian-sponsored as it appears almost certain to be, it may perhaps be a call for a united Western response, if not exactly a call to arms.

  34. Ozboy says:

    Britain’s next Conservative leader weighs into the MH17 attack today, in much the same vein.

  35. Ozboy says:

    At 0500 AEST (1500 local) UN Security Council Resolution 2166, proposed by Australia and co-sponsored by Luxembourg, together with the nations of all the deceased on board flight MH17, was adopted by unanimous vote. The Resolution calls on all belligerents in the Donetsk region to cease hostile activity and allow free and unfettered access to the crash site by investigators. The full text of the resolution is here. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s speech on the Resolution is here.


    UN Security Council Resolution 2166 being passed unanimously in New York today

  36. farmerbraun says:


    See the date on that?

    Hmmm. I hadn’t thought about the issue of Ukrainian debt. According to the article, their debt-to-GDP ratio is at a (comparatively) modest 40%, but 25% of that (in other words, 10% of its GDP) is in short term bonds which mature next year. Google tells me that Ukraine’s 2012 GDP was USD 176.3 billion. So say that next year, they have to cash out upwards of 20 billion in bonds. This is the rationale for labelling their debt position “hopeless”. But from where I stand, for a country of 46 million which is rich in mineral resources and a net agricultural exporter, that doesn’t seem like the end of the world. Maybe a lot of belt-tightening and possibly some restructuring, but not the end of the world: these are a tough people who have seen far, far bigger problems than that.

    Of course, there are more than one kind of “tears” that the current crisis could end in. Fiscal collapse, brought on by spiralling debt, is historically one of the principal reasons that empires collapse. Ukraine seems to be further away from that point than the article suggests. It is rarely the proximate cause of war. As I’ve said here repeatedly, I’m not an economist, so I’m sure I’m missing something in this picture that the article doesn’t mention – Oz

  37. farmerbraun says:

    Now what is happening here?

    “Putin has gone too far”. That is Hilary four days ago.


    But no ; today John Kerry says that it was just a “mistake”.
    Nothing to see here folks.


    As an Aussie, I am finding it bizarre, not to mention disorientating, that Tony Abbott is being compelled to act as the leader of the free world, in the absence of anything resembling American leadership. Am I alone in that feeling? Oz

  38. farmerbraun says:

    Con (s) Piracy Theory No. (n) :-

    “The damaged MH17 starboard jet engine suggests a shape charge from an air-to-air missile – and not a Buk; that’s consistent with the Russian Ministry of Defense presentation graphically highlighting an Ukrainian SU-25 shadowing MH17. Increasingly, the Buk scenario – hysterically peddled by the Empire of Chaos – is being discarded. Not to mention, again, that not a single eyewitness saw the very graphic, thick missile trace that would have been clearly visible had a Buk been used. ”


  39. izen says:

    @- farmerbraun
    “The damaged MH17 starboard jet engine suggests a shape charge from an air-to-air missile – and not a Buk; that’s consistent with the Russian Ministry of Defense presentation graphically highlighting an Ukrainian SU-25 shadowing MH17.

    The trouble with this Russian theory is that the maximum armed altitude which the SU-25 can operate at is about half, 16,000ft the altitude of the MH17, 33,000ft. The air-to-air missile it carries has a maximum range of around 12,000 ft.

    In other words there is no credible way that ground attack fighter with its missiles could even reach the MH17.

    Although if you had checked the operational altitude of the SU-25 on Wiki on the 20th July you might have found that the data on performance had been edited to claim it COULD reach that altitude.


    Some persons have been editing and modifying the ceiling data to try and remove the evidence that the SU-25 is incapable of reaching an altitude at which it could threaten the MH17 aircraft at 32,000ft.

  40. karabar says:

    Somebody changed it and then changed it back again . http://mfa.gov.ua/mediafiles/sites/usa/files/2014.07.23_Sukhoi_Su-25_dif._btw._versions_in_Wikipedia.jpg
    However, there IS a Sukoi version introduced in 2007 called the SU-25M with the necessary capability. But does the Ukraine have one?

  41. farmerbraun says:

    “Of the official about 30 to 36 Su-25M/UB/UBM Frogfoot (Су-25) very capable close support aircraft, we estimate about 15 to 21 could possibly be ready to fight. They fly from Mykolaiv Airbase (Kulbabkino) just north of the Crimea, with 14 updated to M1 (Су-25М1) standard. This airbase might have additional fighter coverage at times by Su-27s and MiG-29s deployed there for the nearby ranges. Four Flankers and two Fulcrums were spotted as late as 4 April 2014. One Su-25 was shot down on 16 July 2014 – marking the first time this happened for an Ukrainian fast combat jet in the country’s history, with a second damaged by hostile fire. On 23 July 2014 two Su-25s were shot down very close to the border with Russia.”

  42. izen says:

    The SU-25UBM is a modified two sweater variant with enhanced radar and defensive capabilities. Given that it is more heavily laden than the original single-seater fighter it is unlikely that it has a higher operational ceiling. I can find no {pre-event} information that it has any better operational altitude than the original version.

    Look at the dates, the modified SU-25 that there are claims can fly higher was first used by the Russian airforce in 2007. The political situation in the Ukraine since 2007 would hardly be likely to encourage the Russians to sell and export the new improved version to them.

    The rebels had shot down twenty-odd aircraft and heli’s before MH17. They have shot down two more aircraft since.
    No one else in the area is shooting down aircraft or has any reason to.

    You really need to have some very great partiality to one side or hatred of the other not to reach the Occam’s razor conclusion that badly organised rebels unable to tell friend from foe or civilian airliner downed the plane.

    Claiming that it could be someone other than the rebels is not a credible position, but it does serve to spread doubt and uncertainty which is all it is intended to create I suspect. But rather like the Israeli claim that they do not know who shelled the school without an investigation, while boasting of all the shelling that is hitting tunnel and Hamas targets, it’s a sign that the perpetrators are unwilling to own the ‘collateral damage’ of their actions.
    It is all part of the obfuscation I predicted before.

    You keep on inserting that comparison to the Israel-Palestine situation. Both are so monstrously complex that you are either a savant, or are grossly simplifying both situations in order to do so.

    As you’ve noticed, I have stayed out of the argument about military technology. This is because of my complete ignorance on the subject. I agree with your conclusion, that poorly-trained ethnic Russian separatists are almost unarguably behind the shooting down of flight MH17, as I have said above. This is also the view of the Australian government, and in fact the near-unanimous view in the free world. An international air crash investigation should put the matter beyond all doubt – Oz

  43. izen says:

    @- Oz
    “You keep on inserting that comparison to the Israel-Palestine situation. Both are so monstrously complex that you are either a savant, or are grossly simplifying both situations in order to do so.”

    Grossly simplifying of course.
    At present the global new media are filled with both these stories, the disjunction between the way they are reported, and the descent into tribal point-scoring while the mysterious (this is iPads auto fill for ‘monsterous’!) complexity is ignored in favour of simplistic bi-dimensional left-right politics gets very annoying. I don’t claim to understand politics or have any strong enthusiasm for any particular ideological analysis. As far as I can understand it has a complexity that makes string theory look lucid and clearly operates in many more than eleven dimensions.

    So my apologies Ozboy. I was just ‘venting’ given the extremes of idiocy and amorality exposed by the events.
    I was the sort of kid who made model aircraft and poured over Janes’s ships and planes when they were paper books with grainy b/w photos. It gives some insight into the constrained roles that aerodynamics and energy impose on combat aircraft. But it is tracking down any information about the tech involved that you can stumble across viewpoints like Texe Marrs who holds it self evident that the MH17 shoot down is a false flag operation because the Ukrainian President Poroshenko is Jewish. Was going to put in a link, but that stuff really is NSFW or indeed anywhere, search for it if you must.

    Sorry if my irritation at all this evidence of human inanity and the intemperate posts/response it has triggered here offend.

  44. farmerbraun says:

    “Sorry if my irritation at all this evidence of human inanity and the intemperate posts/response it has triggered here offend.”

    Hell no ;in a world where nothing is true until it is officially denied, who could possibly take offense.
    inanity rulz 🙂

  45. Ozboy says:

    Here’s a simplification for you (H/T elselskin):

    Not too far from the truth, though. A few severed heads would have helped.

  46. karabar says:

    As Manuel of Fawlty Tower fame might have said “Que????”

    The title’s in French (so are the comments on the Youtube page). But the video has English text, and needs no translation anyway – Oz

    BTW new post up

Comments are closed.