Friday, 7 February 2014

Aniello Iannuzzi on the Australian Greens' Health Policies

This is a review of Aniello Iannuzzi's chapter in the book, The Greens: Policies, reality and consequences.  For an introduction to the review, see my other blog post at:

Aniello Iannuzzi on the Australian Greens’ Health policies

“So whilst old ladies lie in public hospital beds with hip fractures awaiting surgery, the Greens will be spending money on whales and other creatures, and at the same time promoting euthanasia to be freely available on demand with negligible safeguards. What is in effect legalised assisted suicide and murder will further push doctors into major ethical dilemmas. The economically draining elderly and disabled will be liquidated in order to free up funds for saving animals, abortions and allowing assisted reproduction for those deemed suitable”[1].

This extract from a revised, extended version of Dr Aniello Iannuzzi's chapter on the Australian Greens’ (Greens) health policy from the book, The Greens:  Policies, reality and consequences, showcases Iannuzzi’s sensationalist, paranoid, Christian morality.

Iannuzzi, a rural NSW GP, asserts that the Greens’ policies focus on ensuring the rights of animals, at the expense of human beings[2].  What Iannuzzi fails to note is that, since the early 1970s, philosophy has become involved in the question of animal liberation, defining the views of the likes of Iannuzzi as mere unenlightened speciesism. In his book, In defence of animals: The second wave, Peter Singer points out that, “the Judeo-Christian ethic teaches that the lives of human beings are sacred and the lives of other beings are not”. (p.6) Like many conservatives,  Iannuzzi is obsessed with the supposed irrational and misanthropic nature of the Greens  His paranoia over their supposed extreme- environmentalism, -socialism, and - animal rights policies and is a fury of stupidity.  Iannuzzi’s traditional stance against voluntary euthanasia, abortion and assisted reproduction for non-heterosexual couples is informed by a conservative Christian morality and clouds his ability to rationally analysis.

For Iannuzzi, focus on substantial matters pertaining to the healthcare system are rare.  In a discussion of Denticare, Iannuzzi asserts that the Greens’ policies are un-costed and unaffordable. While the Greens’ Denticare policy intends to bring dental health fully in to Medicare,[3] Iannuzzi argues that dentists do not want to be forced to work under a system that would reduce their earning capacity. Nevertheless, after the publication of this book, the Greens helped secure part of a new national dental health scheme, which has contributed to providing free dental care to children.[4] Moreover, the Greens’ Denticare plan has now been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget office.[5]

Iannuzzi demonstrates a revolting intersection of Christian morality with a commitment to individualism and economic rationalism.  He infers that these philosophies naturally form the basis of human behaviour.  While much Modern Western thinking has become informed by individualism, economic rationalism and Christianity, it is important to remember that the value placed on these philosophies is historically and social constructed.  In Pushing our luck: Ideas for Australian Progress, feminist Eva Cox recognises that people are not motivated purely by individualism and economic rationalism.  Her contribution is a call for governments and individuals to recognise the failures of neoliberal thinking.   

My trust in Iannuzzi’s voice as an expert on health policy plummeted further when his wider agenda became apparent in the following quote, the “carbon tax, mining tax and gagging of free speech have been achieved. Gay marriage, euthanasia, and repression of independent school curricula seem only moments away".[6] Drifting far from the topic of health, Iannuzzi appears to be more invested in asserting a particular moral, (economic, individualist) agenda, rather than addressing how successfully Greens' policies provide for the healthcare of all Australians.   Iannuzzi's chapter on Greens' health policies suggests that he focuses on the needs of those privileged by systems of Christianity and Capitalism.

[2] what it means to be human and the value of human beings over other animals…reinforcing the idea that the Greens are anti-human…the chapter is called ‘A Nanny State will keep you healthy…if you are an animal’
[3] Denticare would give all Australians access to dental care under Medicare, and would phase in over 5 years, starting with the most needy. Under Denticare, going to the dentist would be just like going to the doctor. (from the policy)
[4] free dental treatment for children. In 2012, the Greens negotiated a new national dental health scheme worth nearly $5 billion over the next 6 years, bringing Medicare-funded dentistry to 3.4 million children. The Greens also secured $1.3 billion for extra public services and hundreds of millions more for new dental infrastructure. This is the biggest boost to dental health Australia has seen.
[5] with a cost of $4.87 billion over the forward estimates. The Parliamentary Budget Office estimates the Denticare scheme when fully implemented will cost $8.5 billion in 2018-19

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Who, or what, is an Alan Moran?

"As the head of the Regulatory Unit at the Institute for Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank with close ties to greenhouse sceptics, Moran's role has been to support the Government and the fossil fuel corporations with anti-environmental opinions about climate science, the costs of emission reductions and the pitfalls of renewable energy. As a bureaucrat in the Kennett Government he played a major role in stopping, for a time, the national adoption of energy performance standards for home appliances that had been agreed by all the states. The IPA has assisted the anti-wind lobby in Victoria, a move that appears to be driven by hatred of environmentalists and a relentless scepticism about climate change."[1]

An article by Giles Parkinson, published 28 January 2014,[2] speculates that the Abbott government will appoint Alan Moran, from the ultra right-wing think tank, Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), to a panel responsible for a review of the Renewable Energy Target.  The Coalition have been vocal about the need for a review, arguing that the commitment to 20% renewable energy by 2020 is pushing up electricity prices[3].  Here, I will dissect Moran’s miniscule, conservative brain by examining his contribution to a chapter in the book, The Greens:  Policies, reality and consequences, published in 2011.  Moran analyses the Australian Greens’ (Greens) climate change policies.  His chapter is a tirade against the carbon tax, renewable technologies, and an absolute denial of the science on climate change.  Moran’s chapter reveals much about; his commitment to economic rationalism (privatization and deregulation) at the expense of the environment; his disturbing paranoia about the Greens; and his selfish nationalism and short-term-ism, that fails to acknowledge (the effect climate change will have on) developing countries and future generations.  I argue that Moran’s ties to the fossil fuel industry make him a ridiculous candidate to review Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.

In The Greens: Policies, reality and consequences, economist Alan Moran argues that renewable technologies are economically and technologically unviable.  He says, “nobody outside Green activists believe solar and wind have a realistic role” in energy generation.[4]  Moran is unconvinced that greenhouse gases are causing global warming[5] and he seems to suggest that climate change is an environmentalist/socialist conspiracy.  While Moran is totes off his fucking head, many studies elaborate on the actual cost of renewable energy. “A report by the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute (ERI) recently showed that with a small amount of biogas backup and major electricity grid upgrades, it’s technically possible by 2020 for large onshore wind farms and solar thermal power stations to meet all of Australia’s electricity demand”.[6]  Studies comparing the economic cost of implementing measures to address climate change reveal that the financial cost of not acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be much greater.[7] In the Quarterly Essay, Quarry Vision: Coal, climate change and the end of the resources boom, Guy Pearse reveals that the cost of adapting to climate change will be 20 times greater than the cost of reducing emissions to avoid its worst impacts[8].  Moreover, it is widely acknowledged that the rapid transition to renewable energy is a fundamental step toward mitigating the devastating effects of climate change.[9]  In contrast, Moran would have us believe that it is still up in the air whether renewable energy (or business as usual) is the best choice for the future.

In his critique of the Greens’ climate change policies, Moran provides his own cost-benefit analysis of the need to act on climate change.  His work is fundamentally flawed because he sways between totally dismissing the science of climate change to significantly downplaying its effects.  Employing methods typical of climate change denialists, Moran suggests that climate change will have positive effects, including, ‘in the retreat of permafrost and increased growing seasons’[10].  

Over the years, Moran has consistently argued that Australia cannot afford to reduce its emissions. Moran appeals to economic rationalism and selfish individualism (fears about cost of living pressures are perpetuated by both Labor and the Coalition).  He states that, “for Australia, the Greens’ greenhouse action policies mean a direct cost to households – at least tripling electricity bills in the longer term…The cost is colossal and would cut deeply into Australians’ living standards”[11].  In contrast, in an article for The Monthly from 2011, Guy Pearse says,

a 30% increase in power bills coincided with the solar installation rush, leading some to assume that high-cost renewables for the few pushes up electricity prices for the many. In fact, the big reason for rising power bills is the estimated $100 billion cost of upgrading electricity generation and network infrastructure over the next decade”.[12]

Pearse[13] explains that Moran provides misinformation about the financial cost of moving to renewable energy.  Pearse adds, the “persistent notion that emission cuts will wreck the economy has provided Australia with the motive for delay”.  

Moran focuses exclusively on the economic cost of acting on climate change, while a more sophisticated analysis would consider the social, economic and environmental consequences of inaction.  Even if we take the social and environmental costs out of the equation, Wiseman (p.150) argues that “the largest economic risk is that Australia will fail to take the actions needs to make its economy competitive and resilient in the increasingly energy efficient and renewable energy-fuelled global economy of the 21st century”.

Moran reminds me of the dangerous economic rationalists that were described at the Limits to growth:  Beyond the point of inflexion conference I attended last year. In a brilliant critique of modern capitalism, western economics and rampant individualism, nine Australian and International experts outlined the world’s failure to address climate change and the need for urgent action.  The speakers acknowledged the necessity moving away from the modern paradigm of economic fundamentalism (evident in the likes of Moran), for both the survival of our species, and the biodiversity on which human life is based. The conference’s speakers warned that human beings may bring our fragile ecosystem down with them, if we do not acknowledge, understand and respect the complex connection we have with both our environment and our future generations.

Moran is eager to present a smorgasbord of statistics to back his economic rationalist theories. He claims that Australia only accounts for, “a trivial 1.5 per cent of global emissions”, and that an, “analysis of the impact of wind power in Spain…shows that each job created involves the loss of 2.2 jobs and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars”.  Moran cites no sources for his statistics and sensational claims.  Recent research indicates that removing the carbon tax will increase electricity prices in the medium term.[14] 

Moran also appeals to an ugly Australian nationalism when he argues that Australia is only responsible for a small amount of greenhouse gas pollutions.  He ignores Australia’s extraordinarily high per capita emissions. Moran’s call for inaction on climate change seems to be selfish and entitled.  Moran fails to mention that “developed countries are responsible for close to 75% of emissions caused by fossil fuel burning since 1850”[15]. Poor people in developing countries will suffer most from the effects of climate change. [16]  Moran also ignores Australia’s role in contributing to offshore emissions, being the world’s largest exporter of coal[17]. In June 2013, a report by the recently abolished Climate Commission revealed that, if the world is to avoid some of the most catastrophic effects of climate change, 2/3 of Australia’s coal needs to stay in the ground.[18] Did I hear you say something about the building of new ports and dredging to export our coal?  Wiseman[19] also points out that “burning the fossil fuel that corporations now have in their reserves would result in emitting 2, 795 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – five times the safe amount”.  It is worth remember that ‘in setting Australian emission reduction targets it is also crucial to bear in mind the simple mathematics of global and Australian carbon budgets’[20].

While Moran argues that the world is moving away from an international agreement, and that countries are choosing not to act, on climate change, Wiseman points out that, “governments as politically diverse as Germany and the UK, California and Chine, Denmark and South Korea are all acting swiftly to implement comprehensive decarbonisation strategies”[21].

Moran descends into conspiracy theory, in an article on the carbon tax for ABC’s the Drum website.  In 2011, while Labor were in government, he said,

“for the Government the tax will provide a means of balancing its budget and a war chest to buy votes at the next election. Support is offered by those scientists who want to be listened to and to have access to well-paid positions. Then there are environmentalists who want to change the way people other than themselves behave, consume and interact. Policy makers are also keen to be involved in remodeling the economy in ways that will enhance their own stakes”.[22]  

Moran is one of many IPA nutcases who make regular appearances on both the ABC television program the Drum and its equivalent website.  ABC bias much J.  It seems that Moran’s climate change denialism makes it easy for him to lapse into paranoia about Labor politicians, policy makers, environmentalists and socialists.  While Moran is busily lecturing the public about the privilege of scientists, environmentalists and other ‘left wing nut-jobs’, he fails to acknowledge that he has anything to gain from his extremist position.  Guy Pearse points out, however, “in 2001, Moran revealed two important things about his work as head of the IPA’s Energy Forum.  First, Moran confirmed that the forum is funded by a secret group of a dozen energy firms…second, he acknowledged that the IPA rarely took positions at odds with the firms funding the Energy Forum”[23].

A former Liberal Party speechwriter and adviser, Pearse argues that Moran had significant influence on Australian government climate change policy, particularly during the Howard years.  Pearse convincingly explains that Moran was part of a successful effort to ensure that the Australian government avoided acting on climate change, in the interests of securing profits for big polluting fossil fuel industries[24] [25] . Moran is involved in direct lobbying for these industries through his involvement with the right wing (polluter funded) think tank, the IPA[26] [27].  Pearce argues that Moran was one of the most relentless voices opposing polices that support renewable energy, but tellingly “commensurately mute about subsidies for fossil fuel production and use”.[28]

Moran continues to play a significant role in defending the fossil fuel industry, contributing to the delay (and watering down) of efforts to address climate change. At an anti-wind rally, in June last year, Alan Jones introduced Moran as a person who “will play a key role in shaping Coalition policy, should the Coalition come to government”.[29]  Also in 2013[30], Moran argued for abolishing the country’s climate change department, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and a cut to research into sustainable development and climate change carried out in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry[31] [32] [33].

The ruthless economic rationalism of Moran does not acknowledge the impact of climate change on our ecosystem, future generations and developing countries.[34]  His focus on Australia’s financial interests, with disregard for the rest of the world suggests that his extreme economic rationalism and hyper-nationalism are inadequate in addressing climate change, a problem which requires international cooperation. Invested in both the interests of fossil fuel polluting corporations and an insidious version of economic rationalism, it is obvious that Moran would philosophically appose Greens’ policies[35].  Moran lacks the ability to see modern economic thinking with a critical eye.  With so many elements of society needing to change to ensure the future of our planet; our politics, our politicians, our media, our legal systems, our education and our values, the conservative thinking of Moran makes him an unsuitable candidate to review Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.

[4] p.37

[5] (Pearse, p.282) ‘High and Dry’
[7] This short termism was dealt with in a conference I attended last year at the University of New South Wales, Limits to Growth: Beyond the point of inflexion.  Nine expert Australian and International speakers outlined the world’s failure to address climate change and discussed the need for urgent action. Jorgen Randers, Professor of Climate Strategy at the Norwegian Business School, and co-author of the seminal environmental work ‘The Limits to Growth (1972) and its updates in (1992, and 2004, acknowledged the short-termism of democracy, where little is done about problems like climate change because acting is not politically popular and acting is not popular for those economically invested in traditional forms of energy that are compromising our environment and our future.  Ken Henry, Chair of the Institute of Public Policy and Chair of the Review into Australia’s Future Tax System in 2009-10 provides an Australian context to the lack of long term vision in Australia.  His main concerns are that policy is not written for those that have not been born yet, and building future growth through Sovereign Wealth Fund similar to Norway.  He talks specifically about the fragility of the tax base in Australia and the lack of political strength of governments to do what is need to be done to review tax for future.)

[8] (See Pearse on Stern 2006 assessment p.19 or what?)
[10] The Greens:… p.37
[11] P.38
[13] (in what, p.24)
[15] ”(Pearse, p20)???
[16] Scorcher, p.25
[17] (Although Clive Hamilton claims that we import as many emissions as we export?)
[18] (I think I need to make the point that Moran treats environmental destruction in developing countries as more significant, ignore something fundamental about the environmental destruction that is climate change?)

[19] (p.143)
[20] p. 143)
[21] Wiseman p. 139 in Pushing Our Luck 2013, ed. Miriam Lyons
[23] Find quote!
[24] See Pearse ‘High and Dry’, 281 and Hamilton’s ‘Scorcher’
[25] See Hamilton and Pearse.
[26] 154
[27] (something about swaying public opinion).
[28] (In his book, High and Dry, Pearse (p.250, p.281)
[31] The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities would have 2149 staff cuts and all "climate change functions" in the Bureau of Meteorology would be abolished, along with 15 staff. The CSIRO - Australia's main science and research agency responsible for some world leading science on climate change - would be halved in size with 2780 people made redundant”.
[33] How does this differ with the Greens on renewable energy (100% renewables and commitment to different decades…I might need to refer to the policies on their website)
[34] High 298
(Should I have a little discussion of how the Greens’ economic policies – list ‘Future fund out of coal’, ‘Global Economics’, Climate Change and Energy, Biological Diversity, A Cutting Edge Economy, ‘Clean Energy Roadmap, Economics, Fair-Priced Clean Energy are all underpinned by the realities of Climate Change?)

An analysis of the book, The Greens: Policies, reality and consequences

With strategies to address climate change that are more reflective of the science than the two major parties, I became interested in exploring the range of policies of the Australian Greens (Greens).  Coalition and Labor politicians, Facebook friends, crazed Christians, Murdoch publications and semi-sensible journalists are some of the many groups that sensationally blabber that the Greens’ policies are extreme, irrational, and unaffordable.  Finding limited information that critically examines the Greens, a research paper by Dr Joy McCann from the Australian Department of Parliamentary Services directed me to a 2011 book, edited by Andrew McIntyre, The Greens: Policies, reality and consequences.  McCann, a respected Australian social and environmental historian, credits this as one of the first books to critically examine the Greens.  She states, “the expert contributors to [t]his book roundly condemned the Greens’ policy agenda, variously describing aspects of it as economically irresponsible, naive, internally contradictory and morally and socially unsound”[1]. 

What McCann did not indicate is that the 22 authors consist exclusively of conservative politicians, political advisors, commentators, academics, and right-wing think-tank representatives; all of whom prescribe to hyper-economic rationalism and/or Christian moralism.  This analysis will summarise each chapter of the book, exploring the larger body of work of the authors, to deconstruct their moral-, economic-, political- or other- agenda. The authors examine a range of Greens’ policies including Education; Health; Multiculturalism; Economics; and Immigration. I will engage with experts to argue that the book does not address the needs of all Australians, instead supporting policy for the economically privileged, and the morally and socially conservative.  Further, I will question the perceived left-wing bias of the Greens, arguing that progressive policy needs to do more to provide a full-blown critique of capitalism and economic rationalism.