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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Comment: Are we now The Lost Country?

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Our governments, at both state and federal level, are being held to ransom by corporate interests. Corporations have governments by the throat and wallet. The interests of ordinary Australians take second place. There are so many blatant examples of this. Where does one start?

How about giant overseas energy corporations that pay no tax in Australia and yet make billions out of our natural resources and charge Australian consumers exorbitant international gas prices?

When the West Australian Labor government ensured that 15 per cent of gas extracted in that state was reserved for West Australians, the conservatives accused them of acting like socialist Venezuela and issued dire warnings that this impost would cripple investment in gas exploration. It didn’t and WA consumers pay far lower prices than Eastern states.

Richard Jones.

Eastern states gained no similar commitment from exporters and now businesses are at risk of closing; putting thousands out of work because of extortionate gas prices. Has the new Albanese government moved immediately to extract the 15 per cent reservation and cap prices at WA levels? Are they talking of introducing a super profits tax? No, they are not.

How about gambling? Australians lose more per capita on gambling than any other country – some $25 billion every year.

This is what NSW Minister Rob Stokes says about poker machines in pubs and clubs: ‘We cannot hide from an uncomfortable truth that human misery is a financial lifeblood for many NSW clubs’. He warned that areas of NSW with lowest-paid workers have some of the highest losses to poker machines – ruining lives, families and hope for people across the state. Meanwhile, the NSW Government is happy to receive around half a billion dollars a year from gaming machine taxes.

The RSL in Byron Bay has just taken delivery of a whole lot of new poker machines. Everybody who uses them will lose money. They are designed for that purpose. It’s not a game of chance!

I tried the old one-armed bandits in Las Vegas in 1965, when they cascaded real silver dollars when you occasionally won. Today’s highly sophisticated machines are designed to hypnotise people and turn them into ‘pokie addicts’. It’s no secret poker machines are used by organised crime in Australia to launder money. The cashless card would curtail that. Corporate interests don’t want it and have leant on politicians.

Gambling in Australia has reached the stage where large numbers of pre-teens gamble on their phones regularly! Giant casinos built on prime city real estate and designed purely to fleece punters are welcomed by state premiers. How is it possible that the gambling industry has become so incredibly powerful and untouchable?

Political donations from wealthy clubs and pubs by any chance?

There’s a scam of a different sort underway. Many politicians at every level are being sucked in by it, especially at local government level.

You would have heard about the collapse of the supermarket plastic ‘recycling’ system resulting in stockpiles of soft plastic that had been conscientiously placed in special bins by customers thinking they were doing the right thing. So, what happens now?

Behind the scenes the fossil fuel industry has been plotting to deal with its PR problem of plastic now polluting the entire planet. They’ve announced a massive increase in plastic production in coming years to replace the fossil fuel markets being lost through renewables and electric vehicles.

Fossil fuel lobbyists have succeeded in changing definitions in the waste hierarchy triangle to put incineration of plastics above landfill. It’s under the guise of ‘waste-to-energy’. It’s a confidence trick. Burning plastic is far worse than burning coal. It produces very little, and dirty, electricity, and costs more jobs than it creates in communities where it is imposed. Airborne pollution stigmatises primary produce from these areas and for every four tonnes of waste burnt, one tonne of toxic ash remains which they plan to dispose of in roadbase and concrete.

It gets worse. Federally the Government has been subsidising the industry with ‘renewable energy’ grants. Councils are forced to sign decades-long contracts to supply waste, and if the tonnages fall short, because of, say, waste reduction, composting or recycling or bans on certain plastics, they can be sued for breach of contract. Ratepayers will be slugged.

Somehow and in secret, Casino and several other NSW towns were chosen as sites for incinerators without any consultation with local communities. The industry flew councillors and others to Japan to show them the ‘benefits’ of incinerating waste plastic.

It would be preferable to store waste plastic as captured carbon in a properly managed carbon capture facility until such time as the plastics industry is obliged to come up with non-polluting solutions to the waste they have created, without adding to greenhouse emissions, as incineration does.

Corporations have the ear of government. Ordinary citizens do not. We may elect governments, but they don’t do what we ask. They do as they are bid by lobbyists with deep pockets. It’s way beyond time to end political donations from corporations. Maybe you and I will have an influence then.

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  1. To late, the horse has bolted. This problem started some 50 years ago. I worked in the metal & plastic industry’s, all those years ago. It started all those years ago. However, the government’s of that time had no idea what was happening. It going to a very brave government to fix it. Tighten you belts people. It going to be a bumpy ride. Squinty

  2. We are fast becoming stupid prey for those with power and money, holding us to ransom and trying to placate with with meaningless toys like social and other media ‘services’. Chances are it will get worse before a massive eruption of angry dispossessed people will try to take back control . That this will be ugly is clear to anyone who can think. Do we want it? No. Will reason prevail? Not very likely. Just like with climate change, the longer we wait seriously addressing an issue, the more painful the resolution, if there is one, will be. Good luck to all of us.

  3. Yeah. And there’s no buy-back on a situation as dank as this. It’s the good ship lollypop over again. Agree with Joachim.

  4. The supermarkets are set up as a scam to sell plastic packaging, we buy the plastic packages and they chuck the contents in to trick us to into paying for the plastic. They know everyone hates plastic packaging, take a look at Coles cutsie pie free recipe/ food sales booklets and see how rarely plastic packaging features in the photographs.

    • Kathy, try the Five R’s of Recycling and apply to anything plastiky –
      Recycle……and with the REDcycle program on a temporary ‘timeout’ hold onto your soft plastics ( if you have been stuck with any ) until the REDcycle starts up again in 2023.

    • We avoid the big supermarkets altogether Kathy.
      It’s completely crazy to buy 97% water from an unknown source, with 3% soy/nuts, etc in an unrecyclable plastic and cardboard container – labelled soy milk or almond milk.
      We make our own in sixty seconds using filtered rain water at a fraction of the cost.
      We seem to forget we are paying hard-earned money for all that throw away packaging,

  5. “It gets worse. Federally the Government has been subsidising the industry with ‘renewable energy’ grants. Councils are forced to sign decades-long contracts to supply waste, and if the tonnages fall short, because of, say, waste reduction, composting or recycling or bans on certain plastics, they can be sued for breach of contract. Ratepayers will be slugged.” This is just horrendous!!


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