economy

In recent months, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has taken to highlighting the role of state electricity utilities in pushing up power prices. Average power bills have been rising rapidly — 69% over four years in NSW.

In the lead up to its first budget next month, Queensland’s Liberal National Party (LNP) government has intensified its slash-and-burn approach to public and community services. In its first 100 days in office, it axed 7000 public service jobs. Premier Campbell Newman says a further 13,000 job cuts are to come.

Newman has wielded his axe indiscriminately. School cleaners, teachers’ aides, child safety, paramedics, firefighters, local courts, QBuild tradesmen and apprentices are all in the firing line.

Coal seam gas (CSG) advocates are running a fear campaign against a backdrop of soaring electricity prices in New South Wales. They claim that unless CSG development in NSW goes ahead, household gas bills will triple.

This is a frightening idea, given the stress already caused by electricity price hikes.

Over the past four years the average power bill in NSW has gone up by 69% on top of inflation. Users face a further 18% price hike this year.

Beyond Zero Emissions released the statement below on August 8.

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If Julia Gillard wants to support households against price-gouging by electricity companies, she should look closer at renewable energy and energy efficiency, says think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).

Electricity retailers accused of over-investing in grid infrastructure (like poles and wires) would lose their justification if peak energy use spikes were reduced.

When 3.5 million people protested on July 19 in more than 80 Spanish cities and towns ― against the austerity measures announced a week earlier by the Popular Party (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy ― it came as little surprise. It built on the growing wave of popular anger.

Rajoy’s latest package, imposed as a condition of receiving the European Commission’s 100 billion euro “line of credit” to Spain’s debt-ridden banking system, increases the pain for those already hurt by previous cuts. It also brings new sections of the population into the line of fire.

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There is a lot of discussion about the nature of the Chinese economy and its developing role in global capitalism.

Much of the debate has focused on the tensions between a seemingly declining United States and rising China ― and possible changes in the global distribution of power.

In the context of a global domination of US-backed neoliberalism, the “Chinese model” has been put forward by some as a possible alternative. However, not only is China's rise far from inevitable, its “model” has its own contradictions ― as the rise of labour struggles helps reveal.

The second Green Left Report, filmed in front of a live audience, features Mike Karadjis (political economist at Sydney University and member of We Are All Greeks), Antony Loewenstein (independent journalist and author of Left Turn), comic Carlo Sands, plus footage of the Christmas Carol Crims, WikiLeaks and more.

Facts are stubborn things. It is now clear even to German Federal Bank board members that the brutal austerity applied to the eurozone “periphery” ― Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy ― is not just bleeding these economies white, but starting to hurt the Eurozone “core” and world economy.

As a result, the investors, the nurturing of whose fragile confidence has been the whole justification for austerity, feel like investing even less.

“This time Europe really is on the brink,” said economists Nouriel Roubini and Niall Ferguson in a June 12 Der Spiegel commentary.

So now we have a carbon price in Australia. The sky hasn’t fallen in but neither are we getting anywhere near doing what needs to be done to respond to the climate change crisis.

Australia currently gets its energy in this mix:

• Fossil fuels: 95%, comprising coal: 39%, gas: 22%, petroleum: 35%
• Renewables: a miserable 5%.

According to the Labor government's own projections, with the carbon price, by 2035 Australia's energy mix will be:

• Fossil fuels: 91%, comprising less coal at 21%, more gas at 35%, petroleum: 36%
• Renewables: rising slightly to 9%.

In the June 17 elections, anti-austerity Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) came a close second with 26.9% of the vote. The right-wing New Democracy came first with more than 29%, amid huge blackmail and threats from major governments and financial institutions, and will now attempt to form a coalition government.

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