Parliament is sitting again, and really it isn't at all pretty.
Debt not levies
Beyond the rather silly debate on emoting with cyclone/flood/fire victims or lack thereof, nothing has shown up the poverty of leadership on both sides of the House than the proposed funding arrangements for the immense rebuilding effort required. Voluntary contributions will be used to help individuals. The Government though, must step in to rebuild roads, highways, hospitals, water supplies and much more.
Labor proposes a one-year levy.
But really why is it needed? Australia has a very low level of Government debt by world standards, and increasing it is the right response given the continuing fragility of the non-mining related economy, which will be hit even harder by the flow-on effects of the Queensland and Victoria disasters, including the likely diversion of scarce labour to the rebuilding effort.
Families will already be hit hard by sharply rising fruit, vege and ethanol (and thus petrol) prices and other flow-on effects of the floods and cyclone. They don't really need a levy on top of that.
Unfortunately the rational policy response has been made impossible by the success of the Opposition's campaign to make a mountain out of the molehill of Australia's debt levels.
Fiscal cuts will hit families harder
So we face the prospect not only of a new tax, but also big cuts in Government spending.
Mr Abbott's proposals (clearly cooked up in the five seconds before his Mark Latham moment in response to his apparent disregard of the death of one of our soldiers in Afghanistan) to cut aid to Indonesia and defer key expenditure commitments are small-minded and shortsighted. And they seem to suffer from the usual Hockey-esq problem of rubbery numbers.
But what will actually come out of the Government could well be a lot worse. On the plus side, Ms Gillard is taking the opportunity to axe some of her predecessor Mr Rudd's more grandiose schemes (because really, all we needed to solve Greenhouse problems is a Carbon Capture Institute with an HQ in Paris....). Unfortunately that won't be enough, and guess what: the obvious target being eyed by Government is support for families, now rapidly being rebadged by some as "middle class welfare".
And then there is the Green's death agenda...
Even worse, the Green's agenda on gay 'marriage' and euthanasia will sooner or later make it back onto the Parliamentary program.
So on these issues, a few useful things to go read/sign up to.
On euthanasia, Bishop Patrick Power of Canberra has written a useful article (yes, pick yourself up from the floor) debunking claims of mass support for it. Good too that it appears on the journal Online Opinion, whose advertising base has been under attack from gay activists for the crime of publishing articles showing both sides of the marriage debate.
And on the subject of marriage, you might want to consider signing the petition put together by the Australian Christian Lobby - with a rather stronger wording than that agreed by our bishops.
You might also want to consider attending the upcoming "Share the Dream" Conference in Melbourne this April. The Press Release on this says:
"From 15-17 April at Xavier College in Kew, An expected 1500 people will gather in for the National Family Gathering Share the Dream.
This event is the 3rd of its kind in Australia and is hosted by the Melbourne Archdiocese of behalf of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life (BCPL).
Matthew MacDonald from the Life, Marriage and Family Office in the Archdiocese of Melbourne said that the event aims to draw together families from across Australia to celebrate their role in evangelising society.
“We hope to try and give families something that’s a little like World Youth Day. The idea is to give people a sense that they are not alone in their faith. Even though they might feel like fish out of water or that they are all alone and swimming against the tide – there are many who share their vision and values as well as their troubles and challenges”, he said.
**Extra, extra: On the subject of euthanasia, another article worth adding to your reading list for ammunition: Mercator Net has a nice set of extracts from the personal testimonies that helped defeated legislation in Hawaii.