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The Hot Potato (or Pyne’s Plan. No. Abbott’s Plan) and the hint of the betrayal to come.



In Question Time today, Tony Abbott dubbed the coalition education funding plan as “Pyne’s Plan” to which Christopher Pyne responded, and rather quickly, “No it’s more Abbott’s Plan”. On its own, this in and of itself is damn interesting. Clearly Abbott is trying to do to Pyne what he did to Malcolm Turnbull when he dubbed him ‘Mr Broadband’. Namely, wash his hands.
Speaking of Mr Broadband, Turnbull once again was on his feet today trying to destroy the NBN by referring to brown-fields and relating the lack of progress in those brown-fields as somehow a measure of the whole NBN plan. This is duplicitous to say the least. A brownfield is defined as an ex industrial area. In many cases, these areas have been industrial areas at the turn of the LAST century. Way back then, there was little environmental guidelines, and so none were implemented. These areas are VERY OLD. They would have the most decayed copper networks having been connected way back when. And utility connections would be extremely old and that means they would host the most asbestos ducting. It also means that the soil itself may be leached with chemical dumps that would have been just poured down drains if you are lucky or worse still, thrown directly onto the nearby soil.
Think about this Australia. Not only are these areas highly dangerous to the workers sent into these locations, any plans kept in councils in the 1890 to 1930s would possibly be destroyed. That means to locate some of these pipes and tunnels, you would need to try and locate them with sonics. That is use equipment that you have to pass over the land to test for the echo of the ducts and tunnels. But you also need to make sure the soil is safe for the worker. This is by no means the same in green-field construction sites or streets and residential areas constructed post the 1970s when asbestos itself began to stop being used. Homes built between 1940s and the late 1970s, may still have issues with asbestos, but they are more likely to be existing plans of where utility pipes are. So by comparing the overall progress of the NBN with the most difficult areas to actually build it in is outright dishonesty.
Even MORE interesting is the revelation today that the coalition version of the NBN may not actually install the fiber to the node underground at all. To save money, they seem to be planning to get around by cabling the wire to telegraph poles.

Is Coalition’s NBN endgame up in the air?

With his draft strategic review finally in hand, Malcolm Turnbull will now be planning the Coalition’s next moves on the NBN very carefully. By connecting the dots, however, it’s becoming increasingly possible to figure out just what he might be planning – and it ain’t pretty.

Somewhat out of character, this time I mean that literally, and not figuratively.

Clues come from the recent proposal by Tasmania’s Labor premier Lara Giddings, who recently lodged a proposal with the Commonwealth government that it roll out the fibre-optic cables supporting the fibre-to-the-node (FttN) network across existing telephone poles around the state.

It’s an approach that has been tried before, successfully, in the NBN’s pilot trials in Townsville. Indeed, Labor’s original NBN Co plan included plans for around 25 percent of the cables to be strung up this way – although under the previous Labor government NBN Co struggled to resolve an impasse with New South Wales’ Liberal government over the price of such access.
As the story points out, use of telegraph poles is not a new idea. It was floated by the ALP in its first version of the NBN. Abbott responded to this with this comment in 2010. (go to 6 mins 50 seconds)

Ahh Tony. You weasel. And why did the ALP decide that it would be better instead place the fiber underground? Simple. If you are going to build it, do it once, and do it with fiber. Placing the cable underground protects it from the environment and the electrical interference of the electrical wires. It also gives the network an extra 40-80 year life span. Sure its cheaper on poles. But a car only has to take out a pole to take out an entire suburb’s connections. But back to the education fiasco.
As I pointed out, Abbott and Pyne played hot potato over just who is to blame for the new coalition on the fly response yesterday. Pyne did a media blitz yesterday afternoon and evening, but at no time did he respond to questions about where the $1.2bn will be coming from. Instead he hot potato-ed it to Joe Hockey, saying all will be revealed when the MYEFO is released. Hockey of course is juggling this hot potato and refuses to answer until he gets either his $500bn debt limit or the deal with the Greens on no debt limit comes through. At this stage, one should remind Australian’s on how Abbott assured them that under no stage will an Abbott government ever make a deal with the greens. Enough said.
In the absence of any information from the coalition on where the money was coming from, the ALP tried to pin down Abbott and Pyne in question time in regards to ensuring that the ‘Pyne Plan. NO! The Abbott Plan’ will actually come through with needs funding to indigenous and the disabled. The coalition responded with no answers. But there was ONE hint of the betrayal that is to come.
In a response to a question about ensuring that the needs based education funding will get to the disabled, Abbott responded with a childish attack on Jenny Macklin and then said the most curious thing. He talked about the NDIS. Australia. These are TWO separate funding initiatives. They are not to be confused with each other. Education funding is for education. Yet it seems to me what the coalition intend to do is use NDIS funding to pay for their education promises. This is an utter and absolute betrayal. The NDIS is completely different and on top of funding for education. The coalition do not seem to think this is the case. As I already explained, their claim that the ALP ripped out $1.2bn from the education funding is an utter falsehood. But to further raid the NDIS to make up the funding for their panicked response yesterday is immoral. Especially when Hockey not only BORROWED $8.9bn to give to the RBA, that borrowing in and of itself will cost taxpayers a further billion dollars over the forward estimates. And you all remember when Hockey blustered in Parliament on how the ALP was asked for the money by the RBA? And how he received a letter asking for the money? Well not only is Turnbull dishonest, and Abbott and Pyne lie, Hockey is a liar too.

Labor wasn’t asked to top up reserve

Neither Wayne Swan nor Chris Bowen was asked to inject almost $9 billion of borrowed money into the Reserve Bank, previously confidential documents reveal.

Letters between Reserve governor Glenn Stevens and Labor’s two treasurers, released to The West Australian under Freedom of Information laws, show the Reserve asked only to retain profits to rebuild its special reserve fund.

New Treasurer Joe Hockey has decided to give the Reserve $8.8 billion, which has to be borrowed, to rebuild the bank’s reserve fund.

The cost of interest on the borrowing has been estimated at almost $300 million annually.

But the fund has been hit by the strong Australian dollar. After a $8.8 billion profit in 2008-09, the bank posted losses of $3 billion and $4.9 billion.

In deciding to give the $8.8 billion to the Reserve, Mr Hockey said the cash “should have been allocated by the Labor Party”.

Yet in seven letters to Mr Swan and Mr Bowen between July 2011 and July this year, Mr Stevens did not ask for the whole amount.

“It is the board’s strong view that distributable earnings should be transferred in full to the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund, until it is replenished,” he wrote to Mr Bowen on July 11 this year.

At that time, Mr Stevens said the fund would stand at $2.5 billion and be short of the Reserve’s ultimate target by $4.1 billion.

The same letter notes that the run down in the special fund lost $5.5 billion in 2009-10 and the following year because of large losses “resulting from the appreciation of the Australian dollar”.

Two weeks later Mr Bowen agreed to transfer all of the bank’s profits for 2012-13 to the special fund.

So not only did the RBA not ASK for the $8.9bn, what they did ask for, Chris Bowen responded by transfering all the bank’s profit for 2012-2013 to the special fund.
It is shameful enough that Hockey borrowed the $8.9bn for no reason and then attempted to discredit the ALP. But what is more shameful is Abbott seems to be planning to siphon funds out of the NDIS to cover his blank cheque to the states. This is the Abbott government. This is what they do. They lie. They conflate. They smear. They respond with childish slurs and stunts that would shock the most avid Wiggles fan.
Australia. If its a sin to rob the poor to pay the rich, then robbing the disabled is a highway to hell.


A. Ghebranious (December 2013)

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