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Norsk smelter workers first carbon tax 'victims': Abbott
24/05/2012 - Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says hundreds of workers at an aluminium smelter in the Hunter Valley are among the first victims of the carbon tax.
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More than 300 jobs are set to be lost when the Norwegian company Norsk Hydro shuts down its Kurri Kurri plant.
"It's an absolute tragedy because Australia should be a world leader in these sorts of manufacturing activities," Abbott told Macquarie Radio on Wednesday.
"We should have an abundance of cheap energy in this country because of our coal and our gas.
"The trouble is we are deliberately making our energy more expensive. That's the whole point of a carbon tax ...
"The wreaking ball has started to swing through our economy and I regret to say the workers at Kurri Kurri are amongst the first victims."
Norsk Hydro has blamed low metals prices and the strong Australian dollar.
In January, it made 150 redundancies at the smelter after cutting back production.
A subsequent review of the plant revealed it would not be profitable in the short term, and its long-term viability would be negatively affected by increasing energy costs and the carbon tax, which starts on July 1, Norsk Hydro said.
The closure of the smelter shows the aluminium industry is in crisis, the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) says.
"A record high Australian dollar and low metal prices have been lethal for the Kurri Kurri smelter," AWU assistant national secretary Scott McDine said in a statement on Wednesday.
"This lethal combination has resulted in a devastating and shocking outcome for the entire 350-strong workforce, their families and the entire community."
He said the union would on Friday meet with the federal government for urgent talks on the Kurri Kurri plant and the "worsening crisis" in the Australian aluminium industry.
"We will do everything we can to make sure our members receive all the support they need through what will be a very tough time," he said.
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VG | 24/05/2012 12:26 1
The World Resource Institute estimates that Australia was responsible for 1.1% of all CO2 emissions between 1850 and 2002. Considering that : Should Australia be in a position to stop carbon production totally, to zero; We can only ever change the global carbon production by 1.1%. Now just think about that for a minute; On a global scale, it is a barely significant contribution. Now add to that, the intention to cut Australia’s emissions by 5% by 2020. that amounts to reducing the carbon contribution of the globe by 1/20th of 1.1%. Incredibly miniscule overall. We will change nothing. We are being lied to again.. It appears that: Most of the tax raised is being sucked up by compensation for hardship due to the tax. Does not make sense. And, leaving little really for anything else such as alternative energy, which is what it all should be used for if the arguments of climate change are real and everyone is realloy serious. One has to ask the question; Why are we doing it to ourselves, major financial pain on our own as a small nation, for miniscule gain globally. The carbon tax argument, is causing extraordinary financial pain, causing a huge hiatus in the community, where the whole notion is so complex and becoming so convoluted and tied up by so many views and the politics of it all, that all the realities have been lost in the fog of ideology gone mad.
PDenton | 24/05/2012 12:29 2
It seems incredulous that in a country where we actually mine bauxite and coal that an aluminium smelter cannot hold its head above water. Combined with nearby power generation capacity the smelter would , on consideration, be better placed than some to survive fluctuations in the metal price in spite of their relatively higher labour costs. The closure of the operation tolls the bell for other manufacturing endeavours that that are battling against cheaper imports and are similarly dependedent on the supply of affordable power. If it is coming, the "spiral to disaster" across the manufacturing sector smacks squarely in the face of Mr Swan's assertion that Australia's economy is the envy of the world. To be truthful, it would appear that if the mining sector fails, we would be up the proverbial creek.
P Willis | 24/05/2012 14:08 3
A juggernaugt is about to hit the Australian Manufacturing Sector (or what is left of it) When the carbon tax hits, we will see an unprecedented number of companies and in some cases, whole industries closing down, along with the support infrastructure in the local community. In years gone by, if we looked at the spread of opportunities for young people seeking employment, it was almost endless. Today it is an ever deminishing range of sectors with mining being the only one of significance. I agree with PDenton and his statement. If that sector fails, what are we left with? When was the last time you saw something in the news about lamb, beef, wheat and all the other industries that used to fuel this wonderful country!! If our mining program were to fail, this country would be left with nothing to pass to our future generations. Our current governence appears to be based on lies, ill-informed decisions, and endless discussion on non events that take the focus from critical topics. I am glad I am near the end of my working life, and dont have to face the tradgedy we are leaving our future generations.
Lou Furbadamo | 25/05/2012 10:16 4
Sadly, even with this mourning and wake for a further 300 or so lost jobs. It’s impossible for disingenuous, party politicos to be truly understanding, sympathetic, objectively credible and seemingly in control, with potential savvy solutions for the industry’s long standing problems. The standard smoke and mirror party political nonsense and belated Alarmism simply confuses and detracts from unaddressed major issues and inhibits solution and recovery. No doubt the introduction of the carbon tax will progressively impact in the longer term. But currently at a low $23/tonne, cannot be claimed to be the critical reason for all the downfalls, as Tony Abbott continually agitates. Would he have us believe that repealing it would’ve fixed the problem and achieved all the other missed objectives he laments? It’s like going to the doctor with an advanced terminal brain tumour and been told it’s a premature hangover from the bottle of wine you’ll be drinking in three months time! Enlighteningly, Norsk Hydro has instead blamed “low metals prices and the strong Australian dollar”! and tactfully not mentioned uncompetitive labour costs, inefficient industrial work practises, aging and obsolescent plant and facilities, poor outdated infrastructure, potential bad management and the world wide dramatic rise in wholesale cost of electricity. Locally, before concessions it’s reportedly “risen steadily in recent decades, from about $.18 a kilowatt hour in the late 1990s to more than $.28” in recent weeks”. Any responsible and credible commentator would surely know these pertinent facts before selectively preaching and scare mongering carbon tax alone? Notwithstanding, overall it’s far more accurate to blame lower world demand for aluminium products since the GFC for recent industry upheavals and closures, rather than specific “structural or secular reasons” or any looming minor carbon tax red herring . Finally, equally contentious and inaccurate is Tony Abbott’s claim of “abundance of cheap energy in this country because of our coal and our gas”. Not just because of their inherent dubious pollution contribution to global warming, but that there are various grades of coals, with varying combustion efficiencies. None of which are as cheap as naturally occurring “Clean Hydro Electricity”, as is witnessed by the fact that Tasmanian Smelters seem to be more efficient, competitive and not at their death Nell. Many of the worlds most successful aluminium smelters are located close to Hydro power supplies, rather than the environmentally “dirty polluting, supposedly cheap” abundant coal of the Hunter like areas. In short, there are numerous, complex facets to the industry equation that need to be satisfactorily met, starting with sound, efficient government and exemplary political leadership. Before Abbott can simply, parochially claim that “Australia should be a world leader in these sorts of manufacturing activities". So for the sake of the industry, it’s really is time the coalition stopped just fondling the “nitty and started getting stuck into the gritty”, cause none of the other grasping parliamentarians appear to be.
D Andre | 25/05/2012 10:23 5
This is all facinating yet a morbid indication of the direction our nation is headed and fast! As P Willis has said, the problem lies in the upper echelons of Government, our country is rich in resources and was in an incredibly strong position prior to the current governments rediculous if not scandolous economic (and other) policies. The Australian voter has to asking himself why are we in this mess where we are headed. 5 years ago our nation had a healthy bank balance, a strong ecomomy not to mention an immigration system that was under control but seriously - have a look at it now! Everywhere you look, massive issues with no solutions in sight! Who is paying for all this collossal waste? You and me of course. Why - well simply because we voted in a party that is not capable of good governance, they can't produce a good policy simply because they have to pander to so many internal interests to enable them to maintain a grip of of a fragile, shaky and probably corrupted power base. As for the masses of real Australians, the workers, the primary producers, small business, give them a small handout and that will shut them up for a while! Regarding big business, the fact is we need to get over the tall poppy syndrome and realise we need the wealhty, they form an inevitable part of a healthy economy, we need a government that can run this country without ducking and weaving to hold one seat, that is not built on foundations of envy or made up of various individual or small groups with personal or private agendas. When we get this right, healthy investment will follow. Lets hope that one of these losers walks away, only then we can have some faith in governement again and work towards not handing over a lifelong mess to our kids. That might sound a bit far-fetched but stop and consider how long its going to take us & our kids to pay off our national debt right now IF we can stay in budget, we need the mining sector and every other sector for that matter to help us get there so bring on a financially responsible government and lets start over where Howard left off before its too late. Time to move on Labour, Greens & Independants or should I say Greens, Independants & Labour before your green machine obliterates us. The sooner the better!
Lou Furbadamo | 26/05/2012 11:32 6
As a cynical pessimist, I should be comforted by optimistic future notions, that with the urgent flick of a government in the next 13 months. The heralded, virtually policy less Liberal National coalition, will miraculously resolve all our problems and somehow revert all things back to hunky dory, without massive improvement to their old traditional strategies and panderings? Unfortunately, I’ve not attended the necessary therapy session to accept this seemingly popular view? One thing is clear, for Australia to reach full economic potential, It needs clear thinkers, that can excel in “playing the ball and not the man or woman”. But unlike football, we need to move away from the typical one eyed supporter base, to objectivity based on presented facts. It’s the well being of the country, rather than any individual political party that should be the sole objective. And it’s foolish to believe that only one party or group will always deliver it, when in my opinion it’s not been properly delivered in a long time. There’s no doubting the consensus of dire consequences confronting any country, enterprise or household not managed prudently and profitably. For anyone borrowing heavily and operating beyond their means, the economic abyss, financial shock and pain looms near. Ask the Greeks or any of the many other recessed world economies nearing default. Insolvency is destabilising and traumatic for all, rich and poor. Nevertheless, compared to the rest, the Australian economy is in an enviable position as Swan and Gillard repeatedly boast. Albeit, that this current, tentative financial position was due mainly to the lingering conservative leader ship of Peter Costello and “John Wayward”, despite the brief devastating “Dudd” years intervening. Coincidentally, lest we hypocritically forget. They also eventually achieved surplus without proper mandate, utilising the contrived aid of now frowned upon and much maligned, “independent greenish type support”, through the betraying vote of Democrat taxing trollop “Maggie DeLays”. Coalitionists now conveniently forget that “Wayward’s” gullible democrat snag, never told Australia she’d betray and vote for the dastardly GST before her election. Thereby subjecting Australia to the most underhanded and waste prone of all malignant taxes: In terms of legalised thievery and money grabbing waste, their expansionary GST, makes the current vilified carbon tax a non event. There’s efficient, good old Coalition Legacy to warm the cockles of your heart and instill confidence! This TAX propelled their government, the frivolous states and all the spendthrift wishful bureaucrats into an orbit of unprecedented waste and excess, which ran unabated in a booming world economy, until the shit hit the fan with the GFC and the withdrawal pangs started to set in. So in relation to the contributed comment “ 5 years ago our nation had a healthy bank balance, a strong ecomomy not to mention an immigration system that was under control” How anyone can now longingly consider this as a euphoric period of bliss is beyond me? Perhaps I’m too discerning and a harder task master, but I don’t agree! Firstly, immigration’s effectively open door bipartisan policy has been wastefully rorted, out of control and costing us big money since the Seventies. Mostly, desperate people on boats seeking a better economic future at our expense, Yes! But don’t tell me they’ve all been bonafide ”under control” refugees? And wasn’t it the “Wayward Government” that introduced “willy nilly” foreign work visas to do Australian workers out of lucrative employment? At best we’ve been treading water for a long time because the claimed economic flaws and malaise in the manufacturing and industry sectors, that supposedly would provide future employment and wealth for our children, have long been entrenched and ignored by both sides of poli
Paul Cantlay | 26/05/2012 11:35 7
And yet even with the track record of labour governments destroying the economy every time they are in over the last 50 years, alot of people voted for another round of incompetance.
Lou Furbadamo | 27/05/2012 00:18 8
To clarify P.C's recent comment. Paul, Not just Labour Governments have been destructive and not just "a lot of people voted for another round of incompetence", but under our preferential voting system and parliamentary rules "the majority of people voted for another round" of the same Julia troupe. Which simply irrefutably proves my earlier point that the other mob can't be much good or trusted either and that they need major improvement to lift their game. In the meantime, parties that only give second rate service, don’t deserve loyalty. Cause to give Australians due credit and respect, the majority of voters are smarter than your average bunny they treat us for and knowledgeable enough to pick the difference between reasonable, bad and worst political parties, policies and candidates. You’ll notice that politically good and excellent have been omitted for improved accuracy. A good mending start would be for them to start putting our and the nations best interest ahead of theirs! Best Regards, Lou.
John Adrian | 27/05/2012 10:14 9
Lou Furbadamo for PM
Des Andre | 28/05/2012 09:32 10
I agree with you generally and am not accusing you of being polically biased but your pessimism & cynicism perhaps has the better of your clear thinking. No politician is going to get everything right so we might as well accept that but if you can possibly take a broader view and look at the bigger picture you will see that by various means & some of them very contentious, we were in a much better position thanks to Johnny Wayward's (as you call him) time as PM, prior to that we were in a very similar shambles as now - massive debt and a bickering government incapable of sensible policy. Tax is an unavoidable thing and has been bitterly disputed since the days of Constantine and probably before. The GST was always going to happen, both sides of govermnet had wanted it at some at some point and it was only waiting on a government with a clear majority regardless. Mostly taxes are collected by a string of levies at all levels of government, some that we often dont even know about. I personally dont have a problem with GST but in principle, it should bring more clarity and be better understood. My issue with this tax policy is that it hasnt gotten rid of these string of underhanded taxes as it was supposed to when it was introduced. To get back to the point at hand it is necessary to take a broader view and not get bogged down in detail. As PC said and it is recorded in history that mostly (you will notice i have used the word mostly here!) it has taken a liberal goverment years of unpopular policy to recover from the scandalous waste of a few short years of Labour infighting and destructive behavior. It has too often been an unwelcome visitor @ ACT. It is an unfortunate fact the ALP ranks are filled with hardliners (or would be's) and they just cant get it right. The facts speak for themselves if you can raise yourself above personal resentment you will see my point. We were in a strong position 5 yrs ago and statistics support that. We should have ridden out the GFC a lot better than we have and future generations will have to pay the cost of it. (another and obvious supportable fact) As for your complaint about foreign workers, ofen our unemployed either dont want to work or are unwilling to do the work they are glad to do, some of your comments sound a little like a CFMEU line at a fundraising meeting. Spending on immigration ahs more tha quadrupled since the much maligned coalition policy the pacific solution which was causing some embarassing moments for them but had slowed the boatloads dramatically, since the ALP claimed a mandate to scrap that policy the influx of the boats has only increased and there is no end in sight just as there are no credible answers. We have a counrty that many would love to live in and it must be controlled in a fair and equitable manner but inb one that does not jeapardise the long term interests of our nation and its current populous. I believe this is the most urgent need and much grandstanding on smaller insignificant issues is being done to draw attention away frrom it at present. As for waste, prove to me that there is some new form of waste introduced since the introduction of the GST. This is a frivolous idea and notice the waste many words and effort on it, it would obviously have happened regardless and there are is no support evidence. GST is here to stay like it or not so build a bridge and get over it. Another fact is that the ALP has continually sought to find ways to tax the rich and give to the poor, fair enough - i like handouts too but these theories based on socialist idealogy do not necessarily work towards the long term interests on our country, mostly they are cynical vote grabbing attempts. What is clear is that we need to find the middle line, one that increases investment, confidence and motivates people to work hard and not wait for handouts. As you say, the world needs to look at Greece and learn. Your thoughts on being one-eyed show you are unable to raise above the
Lou Furbadamo | 28/05/2012 12:42 11
John, thanks for your flattering approval vote. Obviously a fellow connoisseur of wisdom, objectivity and furbo smarts. I'm happy to encourage/stir thought and comment on this most critical topic. Unfortunately the nominal 800 character comment limit, isn’t always sufficient for full subject matter justice. So prompted by your appreciative feedback and my desire to share and not let otherwise admirable content cut to waste. Especially in recognition of the hundreds of thousands of Aussie workers, who’ve needlessly lost jobs and livelihoods to date through nonsense errant politics. If the editor permits, I’ve resubmitted some earlier truncated comment for further consideration: At best we’ve been treading water for a long time because the claimed economic flaws and malaise in manufacturing .... have long been entrenched and ignored by both sides of politics. Yet, Abbott’s Mirabella is still blatantly refusing to support necessary continued assistance for the important Car industry. Despite the fact that paradoxically the resource driven successfully high Aussie dollar has arguably primarily destroyed that industry’s competitiveness and viability! There’s fascinating Coalition nation building? What will be Australia’s strategy when export resources eventually start running thin? Will we have viable technology and productivity base to boost from, or will future Australians be mostly relegated to second rate or impoverished third world status near the end of the pack? P Willis warns “a juggernaugt is about to hit Australian Manufacturing.. an unprecedented number of companies and in some cases, whole industries closing down” But I saw the “juggernaut” approach and start wreaking devastation at least 35 years ago, thanks mainly to the introduction of the "treacherously inspired” Labour Button Plan. A Coalition supported and sustained arrogant, bipartisan policy of destroying and exporting Aussie jobs which continues. In reality most manufacturing and other struggling sectors are merely waiting for the “Fat Lady to stop singing”. As example. In the late nineties, Iconic SA Pope electric Motors, my work place of 18 years was closed, stripped and shipped lock, stock, specialist equipment and resistor banks to set up an identical factory in China! Near "world best equipment" which many of us spent numerous public holidays and late nights sacrificing and sweating on to dutifully install and commission, is now providing long term sustained employment for a foreign nation’s children! All that tangibly remains is the factory shells and my wife still whinging about my earlier naïve priorities. And all this destruction and regret during the supposed pro Aussie, protective safe hands of the Wayward Liberal’s watch! On a lighter note, as I’ve a relative soft spot for long suffering Treasurer Pete. And given that the current layman’s economic Liberals clearly lack his expertise. I note that if Tony were to unselfishly, amicably allow his return to boost team credentials. Australia could boast an “Abbott and Costello” partnership, which could then possibly credibly attain the conservative happy ending the masses are clamouring for after dear Julia’s imminent demise. Finally, for the courteous benefit of Des Andre. I’d clarify that I’m not concerned with who to vote for as much as how to demand and ensure the best results out of them. Also, I'm not against properly mandated and structured necessary "inevitable” taxation. But badly disappointed with it's current counter productive, crippling extent at all three tiers of "Wastedom" and the arrogance of what they've often irresponsibly done with it. A view shared by many admirable outspoken prominent Business Australians. Further your claim that "the GST was always going to happen" is mere speculation. Theirs was a “soft touch” knee jerk response to wayward inability and failure to responsibly balance their budget and
J.O. | 28/05/2012 17:33 12
Lou, you're talking of a "virtually policy less Liberal National coalition" - I doubt Tony would reveal any decent policies at this stage of the game, as Julia would be glad to lay her hands on anything of value. Wait until the election race starts before you start making claims like that.
Lou Furbadamo | 29/05/2012 11:39 13
Hello J.O. I’m so happy to read your reassuring, woo me back comment. Because after all this discussion, it’s the perfect example of what I’d like to change. Your well meaning apologetic, arguably in denial approach is misguided and unproductive here. Sure, we can continue supporting liberal philosophies. But there’s no need for wishful excuses to protect under performance, when by now we should’ve been policy well informed and convinced of “a superior alternative government”. If it was football team they’d surely deserve a rev up at half time, not “whimpy excuse”? We shouldn't need to conceal their shortcomings. Instead they need our communication and expectations of what to provide and achieve and ultimately judgement of their “delivery” performance. It's not high espionage or cold war stuff, where secrets have to be in code to surprise the enemy. We, are not enemy, but adjudicators of performance and they should instead, hold us front and foremost. Socially, if someone I deal with has a good idea that affects me, I expect them to come out and share it, not cagily piss-fart about. Conversely, If they don’t have much of a clue and they’re just being vain. I’d say shut up and keep your nonsense to yourself. If there’s good policy ideas in the secretive Abbot legislative pouch. Lets hear them and be openly impressed or otherwise, even if those potentially “thieving, plagiarising, unimaginative” socialists and greens and assorted combatants copy and make them LAW immediately themselves. Regardless, voters know they were sound Coalition ideas and we'll be better for it. Surely he wouldn’t have policies that disadvantage his constituents? So why not try implement and benefit from these policies now? I suspect he’s not letting much out, cause there’s little policy to impress and/or doesn’t want scrutinising in case it’s wrong or flawed! However, If you thought you might be wrong or inaccurate about something important, you’d like to know and fix it, wouldn’t you! unless you believed you were smart enough to pull the wool over a docile, apathetic public? No doubt there’s another hushed, politically volatile re-branded work choices. Which I’d entertain if fairly sanitised and better sold to an informed public. However many previously sensitised wayward frightened voters probably won’t. In any case good planners don’t like surprises. Helpfully reminiscing, as the immortal Mae West famously seducingly said, after eying over her visiting Big Tony: “Hello big boy, is that a six gun in your pocket! Or are you just glad to see me.???” Well, we and she will never know until he intimately confides and reveals what’s in those hopefully bulging, policy pants. Admittedly, they say things look better when saucy bits are selectively covered for the imagination. But, “that don’t mean hiding all the attraction in a heavy thick sack”. From modest experience, I’d suggest retention of fertile interest is better mutually achieved after intimate brush up and feel, to enticingly assure that all is well and functional. Respectfully, that needn’t be on the first meeting, but heh! It wasn’t two to three years down the track. Cause, even a slow, steady worker could’ve got married and had a family in that time.
T.L.O. | 1/06/2012 21:48 14
Does Lou Furbadamo have to much spare time on his hands? He seems to be spending a couple of hundred words per response to convince us that the Coalition is just as bad (If not worse) than Labour etc. I can tell him now he will never succeed-I think he is the one who has had the wool pulled over his eyes, to refer to his last response. Give up-yes I am expecting an HSC style response here, lets have it Lou-if you go the way you have been going, I might give you 5% for such a convincing arguament-you have convinced yourself anyway!!!
Lou Furbadamo | 2/06/2012 01:42 15
Judging by T.L.O’s anonymous elderly seagull’s* struggle to conjure barely five lines of disgruntled huff and puff nonsense insult. (* Being one that comes in late after the competitive bustling and jostling is done, shits on you from high above, and then scurrilously quickly fly’s off to its safe, obscure perch!) He/she might well erroneously conclude that I’ve too much time on hand. But for a fully self funded, near sixty retiree, used to being fully occupied 18 hours a day for many years. My brief multiword diversion here is merely a few benevolent, egotistical hiccups in a normal busy fulfilling routine. Presumably what a startled and confused T.L.O can’t comprehend, is that when one is open, informed and clear in belief. It’s not difficult to quickly express pertinent views and thoroughly contribute to better the debate and benefit this “disenchanted, politically betrayed country”. I’ve hopefully tried to do my patriotic bit and broadened this very important debate. But you know what they say about religion and politics, even if you are being critically sincere. Appropriately, I believe that try as you might: ”You can lead ignorance to the refreshingly watery fountain of knowledge, but you cant make it understandingly drink. It’s a pity T.L.O’s smarty pants comments only have sufficient integrity and credibility to be made Incognito without real commitment and ownership. Sadly, judging by the standard of some closed minded, unjustified negative comments expressed in this forum, it’s fair to say that we deserve the mediocre standard of politicians we have. PS. Good luck with your favourite Abbott & Co. See how supportive and elated you feel in say three years time?
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