Politics,Climate Change and Sundry issues

Politics,Climate Change and Sundry issues
for website listing my blogs : http://winstonclosepolitics.com

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Coalition's 'asset recycling' scheme watered down in Senate | World news | theguardian.com

Coalition's 'asset recycling' scheme watered down in Senate | World news | theguardian.com

Coalition's 'asset recycling' scheme watered down in Senate

Amendments include vetting of infrastructure projects worth more than $100m and Senate veto on certain incentives

Anthony Albanese gets into the finger pointing.
Labor’s transport spokesman, Anthony
Albanese, said the upper house would not be able to stop states selling a
hospital to build a road but it could prevent an incentive payment
being made. Photograph: Lukas Coch for the Guardian

The Senate has imposed limitations on the government’s “asset
recycling” scheme, ensuring the upper house can veto proposed incentive
payments to the states for using the proceeds of privatisation to fund

Labor won adequate support for an amendment to
ensure those infrastructure projects worth more than $100m were
assessed by Infrastructure Australia with a published cost-benefit

The Senate passed the government’s legislation on Thursday night but only after agreeing to significant amendments.

fund will provide incentive payments to state and territory governments
that sell assets and use the proceeds to build "nation-building
infrastructure". The top-up provided by the federal government will be

One of the changes made by the Senate would ensure the
government could not grant particular incentive payments without using a
legislative instrument. This effectively means the Senate could
“disallow” any particular incentive.

Labor’s transport spokesman,
Anthony Albanese, said the upper house would not be able to “stop states
selling a hospital to build a road” but it would be able to prevent an
incentive payment being made for such a transaction.

“What it doesn’t allow is an open-slather attitude towards privatisation with no accountability,” he said.

government criticised the amendments during the Senate debate. The
finance minister, Mathias Cormann, said: “These amendments only add red
tape with no additional benefit. These additional amendments are about
increasing duplication.”

The Senate passed a Greens amendment
opposing the use of the fund for privatisation of essential services.
The Greens also secured Senate support to add the words “encouraging
privatisation” to the original name of the legislation, the asset
recycling fund bill.

The Greens senator Scott Ludlam said the bill
“would create a toll-roads slush fund at the expense of investment in
public transport, and at the expense of revenue-generating publicly
owned state assets”.

“State governments should not be bribed with
incentive payments to sell off public assets in public hands and the
Greens will fight this move all the way,” Ludlam said.

The bill will now have to return to the House of Representatives for approval.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Joe Hockey warns he will bypass Senate to push tough budget measures through

Joe Hockey warns he will bypass Senate to push tough budget measures through

Joe Hockey warns he will bypass Senate to push tough budget measures through

Government's carbon tax warning

Labor will bring back the carbon tax if it wins the 2016 election warned the government in question time on Tuesday.
The Pulse Live with Judith Ireland
Treasurer Joe Hockey has warned the Labor Party and the
Greens to pass tough budget measures through the Senate or the
government will find other ways to push through savings.

But the opposition says if the government wants to "sneakily" avoid the parliament it will have a case to answer with voters.

Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer and Treasurer Joe Hockey. Mr Hockey has threatened to bypass MPs to get contentious budget measures through.
Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer and Treasurer
Joe Hockey. Mr Hockey has threatened to bypass MPs to get contentious
budget measures through. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

As the government prepares to front an extended Senate
sitting to pass the mining and carbon tax repeals, Mr Hockey said he was
prepared for "a marathon" negotiation to win the new Senate's approval
for unpopular budget measures, such as a new GP fee.

He said Labor and the Greens risked dealing themselves out of
any political influence if they did not approach talks with an open

"I say to Labor and the Greens if your instinct is to say no
immediately and to stick with that, you are dealing yourself out of
having an influence on public policy," Mr Hockey told ABC radio on

"Because if the immediate reaction is no with no opportunity
to open discussion . . . then there are other alternatives that we can

Mr Hockey said there were already budget measures that the government did not need legislation for.

He said if the government could not clinch the votes it
needed on the Senate floor for proposals that would be presented as
separate legislation, it would have no choice but to find alternatives.

Mr Hockey added that the warning was not "retribution"
against an increasingly unpredictable Senate, and the government
remained open to discussions.

''If the Senate chooses to block savings initiatives then we
need to look at other savings initiatives that may not require
legislation," Mr Hockey said.

''I would ask the Greens and the Labor Party, who between
them hold 35 votes on the floor of the Senate, to understand that there
are alternatives through government.''

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the opposition was happy to
negotiate with the government, but the Treasurer's approach was all
''bluff and bluster''.

''If the Treasurer thinks he can sneakily get his changes
through by somehow avoiding the parliament well he should explain to the
Australian people what he's planning instead of the normal bluff and
bluster we're get from this guy,'' he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

''What we're seeing is pretty much a Prime Minister and a
Treasurer who just think, well, we'll arrogantly say what's going to
happen and we'll just say that it will pass the Senate and saying it
will pass the Senate means it will pass the Senate.

''Well that's not how parliaments work.''

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The lessons Abbott should learn from Victoria - The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The lessons Abbott should learn from Victoria - The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The lessons Abbott should learn from Victoria

Tue 15 Jul 2014, 7:45am AEST

The first and most important lesson Tony
Abbott can learn from the Victorian Parliament shambles is simple: go to
an election as soon as possible, writes Chris Berg.
Tony Abbott ought to be watching Victoria closely.

problem - a disgruntled former Liberal controlling the balance of power
and holding the Government's agenda to ransom - is exactly what Denis
Napthine has had to deal with for the past year.

In 2010 the
Victorian Coalition won government with a one-seat majority. Such a
margin would have been perfectly serviceable if it wasn't for the fact
that Geoff Shaw, the Liberal member for Frankston, was accused of an
entitlement rort, fell out with the Speaker, then fell out with his
party, and then fell out with the entire Parliament.

Since then he has been creating havoc. Shaw has a single agenda - he's anti-abortion - but beyond that he's been mainly focused on creating problems.

So yes, Shaw is a lot like Clive Palmer - the man who was a climate sceptic one day and an Al Gore climate ambassador the next.

In June the major parties finally ganged up on Shaw and voted to suspend him from Parliament.

Palmer and his three senators won't be suspended or expelled, even if
the Abbott Government wanted to do such a fundamentally undemocratic

The first and most important lesson of Victoria is simple: Abbott needs to go to an election as soon as he can.

the Shaw crisis came to a head last month, Napthine said he would have
liked to call an election six months ago. Spill the entire Parliament.
Let a ballot resolve the crisis.

But in Victoria the key mechanism
to resolve parliamentary instability in the Westminster system - an
election called by the government leader or forced by the head-of-state -
was eliminated when the previous Labor government introduced fixed

Abbott doesn't have that problem. And his problem is in the upper house not the lower. He can play the double dissolution card.

This would be a drastic strategy of course, especially because the polls make it look unappetising.

But the alternative may be a lot worse.

The new Senate has sat a single week but there must be Coalition hard heads thinking about the future.

let's play this out. (As a hypothetical, mind you, not as a prediction.
Who'd be so reckless as to make predictions about the 44th Parliament?)

carbon tax is likely to be repealed. But almost every piece of
ancillary legislation to that repeal has been held up or explicitly
rejected by the balance of power senators. They won't abolish the
Australian Renewable Energy Agency, they won't abolish the carbon tax
compensation tax cuts, and they won't abolish the Clean Energy Finance

Sure, in themselves these programs are subordinate to the main game. The Government gets its win from repealing the carbon tax.

Palmer is certain to repeat his theatrics with every moderately
controversial bill. The GP copayment. The medical research fund. The
welfare reforms. University deregulation. Those dozens of agencies the
Government has promised to abolish. Why wouldn't Palmer make trouble?
What else has he got to do with this time in parliament?

And that's just Palmer and his senators.

Muir, Bob Day, David Leyonhjelm, Nick Xenophon, John Madigan - none of
them are fully signed up to the Coalition's budget, let alone their
broader program.

We could very easily get to Christmas without the substance of the May budget having been passed.

the Abbott Government negotiate its way through to parliamentary
stability? Perhaps. But recall that last week wasn't the first time the
Abbott team's negotiating skills have been wanting. The Coalition failed
to negotiate minority government in 2010.

These are the Abbott Government's parliamentary problems. The polls are a worse problem.

last week the mantra has been that it is a long time until the next
election - polls change. Yet after last week that mantra sounds a little

More importantly, the Victorian saga shows that voters
blame anarchy in parliament on the government. It's not fair, of course
- the Napthine Government is governing well enough. Yet the
parliamentary drama overshadows everything.

It is certainly true
that if Abbott went to a double dissolution, voters may give him an even
more unpredictable parliament, stuffed full of Palmer senators and
micro parties. If so, then the Coalition will just have to grin and bear
it. Such is democracy. (For that matter, Shaw could be returned in
Frankston, and the Victorian Parliament might be hung again.)

But what's the alternative?

Laura Tingle wrote in the Australian Financial Review on Friday that
"cornered ministers have resorted to arguing that no matter how untidy
things were at the moment, the Prime Minister will get to the end of
this year".

An earlier rallying cry was that the Government just
needed to get to July 1 when the senate changed over. Before that, the
Government just needed to get to Christmas.

This is what governments say when they don't have a Plan B.

Palmer will calm down. Maybe he'll play ball. But remember the Gillard
government's hope that they would eventually find "clear air"?

They never found it.

Chris Berg is policy director at the Institute of Public Affairs. Follow him at twitter.com/chrisberg. View his full profile here.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Julie Bishop a 'complete fool', says Chinese paper

Julie Bishop a 'complete fool', says Chinese paper

Julie Bishop a 'complete fool', says Chinese paper


Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop: Outspoken about China.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop: Outspoken about China. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Australia was once an outpost of “rascals and outlaws” but
will soon adjust to the shifting realities of power, says a Chinese
state-owned newspaper, which also has called Foreign Minister Julie
Bishop a "complete fool".

“Australia's history is not short of records of human rights infringement on the Aboriginal population,” said the Global Times, China’s most popular tabloid, in an editorial published in the newspaper’s English and Chinese editions on Monday.

Editor of "Global Times", Hu Xijin, in 2010.
Editor of "Global Times", Hu Xijin, in 2010.

“The country used to be a place roamed by rascals and outlaws
from Europe,” it said. “Perhaps it has to boast its values to cover up
its actual lack of confidence in front of Western countries.”

The newspaper, owned by The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s self-described "mouthpiece", was responding to comments made by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop published by Fairfax Media on Thursday. 

The Chinese version of the Global Times editorial goes
further than the English version, using a Beijing colloquialism to
describe Ms Bishop as a “complete fool” and suggesting her government
won’t last long.

In the interview, Ms Bishop bluntly pledged to stand up for
Australian values and to “manage for the worst” when dealing with China,
while criticising the alleged temerity and incoherence of Labor
predecessors. "China doesn’t respect weakness," she said. 

Ms Bishop was making the point that the Abbott government's
more strident advocacy on China, particularly on security matters, had
not led to the punitive economic response that Australian critics had

Fairfax Media understands that the interview prompted
high-level diplomatic inquiries and some initial confusion about whether
Ms Bishop actually made the comments as reported. 

The Global Times editorial paired Ms Bishop’s comments
with Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments to his guest, Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, in which he said he "admired the skill and the
sense of honour" of the Japanese submariners who attacked Sydney Harbor
in 1942.

“If Abbott's words were meant to flatter his visiting
Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, Bishop's provocation appeared to have
come out of nowhere,” it says. 

“Many Chinese people who read about this could not believe
these words came from the Australian Foreign Minister. China is
Australia's biggest trade partner and has not offended Australia in any
way. Bishop's verbal provocation made her look more like one of the
often pointless 'angry youths' found in the Chinese cyber sphere than a

The Global Times editorial is the closest that China
has come to admonishing Australia since last week’s high-profile visit
by Mr Abe, in which he advanced the capacity to work together with the
Australian military.

Still, the editorial hinted that China will not bother
pressing its views further because Australia would be forced to adjust
its rhetoric to the realities of international bargaining power.

“Bishop calls for standing up to China, but what resources
does she have to do so with? The next day, Australian leaders will smile
at China again, just as they do now to Japan.”

Within the Abbott Government, some said Ms Bishop was merely
giving voice to long-established principles that underpin China policy.

Others, however, questioned whether it would be able to
consistently match principles with actions, as the Rudd government
struggled to do.

The Global Times is famous for a distinct brand of fiery nationalism.

Its editor, Hu Xijin,
claims to represents the will of the Chinese people but his
commentaries are regularly more controversial abroad than they are at

Sunday, 13 July 2014

This Reprehensible Rabble - » The Australian Independent Media Network

This Reprehensible Rabble - » The Australian Independent Media Network

This Reprehensible Rabble

If anything was patently obvious from the events
in Canberra last week, it is that Clive Palmer thinks he is running the
country and the media seem to think so too. They are all over him,
relegating Tony Abbott to the role of a bit-player. It is also patently
obvious that the government’s negotiating skills sit somewhere between
pitiable and non-existent.

The repeal of the carbon tax is only the beginning. There are still
budget bills to be passed as well as the mining tax and Clive Palmer
appears intent on maintaining the chaos. It is conceivable that Tony
Abbott will soon be cornered into either giving Palmer everything he
asks or calling a double dissolution. At the moment he is vacillating
and his weakness on this issue will expose him for what he really is.
His pre-election bluff and bluster has dissolved.

Last week’s circus in the senate was inevitable and it will happen
again. The closer you get to your enemy, the sharper you need to be.
Clive Palmer has been around long enough not to trust anyone and knows
since the day Joe Hockey delivered the Budget that the Prime Minister’s
word has little or no value.

Image by The Sydney Morning Herald

Palmer probably remembered Abbott’s comments when interviewed by Kerry O Brien a few years back. “The statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth are those carefully prepared scripted remarks,”
Abbott said. In that interview Abbott revealed that he sometimes went
further than he should when making a promise. I’m sure it was no
surprise to Palmer when the wording to the amendment on the bill to
repeal the carbon tax wasn’t quite what it was supposed to be.

If the Coalition think for one moment that they can put one over
Clive Palmer, they are deluding themselves. But, given Abbott’s penchant
for verbal dishonesty they will probably keep trying and in the
process, expose themselves for the utterly reprehensible rabble that
they are.

That is not to say that Palmer will not acquiesce when it suits him.
He is unpredictable and, I suspect, delights in keeping the government,
the opposition and the media guessing. But as time passes (and it can’t
come too quickly for most of us), the interaction between him and the
Prime Minister will further expose Abbott’s difficulty in negotiating to
a point where even his most steadfast supporters will have had enough.
The government couldn’t even get their amendments right. A double
dissolution could see him lose office or at best see his lower house
majority whittled down to one or two.

The senate result could be worse with a strong chance that both major
parties would lose numbers to the PUP. If for some reason the people go
against PUP and vote to restore some sanity the result will likely
favour Labor and the Greens. Either way, Abbott is in trouble. Doubtless
his party’s electoral engineers are doing their sums and would be
weighing up the pros and cons. The advice given to them by outgoing
senator Ron Boswell to stand up to Palmer is the right advice but they
appear unwilling to take it.

Image by BBC.com

For the electorate, the greater issue here is honesty, or lack of it.
The budget exposed the Coalition to be utterly dishonest, something
they brought on themselves; an own goal. They can no longer claim the
moral high ground. Their claim to have a mandate is, and always was,
spurious. There is just too much evidence out there to show that they
have treated the electorate as fools. Clive Palmer has realised that as
the self-appointed defender of the underdog, his political future has
promise. He will not want to betray his image and backtrack on anything
he has said to the pensioners and the battlers who have crossed over to
his side.

By way of comparison the government is showing signs of cracking under the pressure. Tony Abbott’s speech to the LNP annual state conference in Brisbane on Saturday bordered on the bizarre.“You and we are rescuing our country . . . it is only us who can rescue our country right now,” he said. Rescue from what? His attack on Bill Shorten was equally weird and suggests he is beginning to lose the plot.

Image by news.com

His upbeat display of confidence was in direct contrast to the events
in Canberra and the reality of the situation as it unfolded. He
referred to the events in the senate as “a lot of colour and movement.”
It was chaotic. Under Abbott’s leadership thus far, the Coalition has
lost all the support they had at the election and then some. Their only
way forward is to replace their leader and try starting again. That is
unlikely for now and things are only going to get worse.

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Monday, 7 July 2014

Why the excluded are still waiting - Eureka Street

Why the excluded are still waiting - Eureka Street

Why the excluded are still waiting

John Falzon | 
30 June 2014

Locked gateIt's always the big lie that must be tackled first. Otherwise the other lies look like the truth.

Terra Nullius is the big lie, for example, that allows all the other
lies that justify the invasion and colonisation of Australia.

Similarly, I recently read an apologist for the continued oppression
of Palestinians reciting the big lie that 'there's never been a

The big lie that the Government's review of welfare in the Mclure interim report is predicated on is that 'welfare' (read 'government' or 'social spending') is the problem and the market is the solution.

It reminds me of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek's observation
that 'Society itself is responsible for the calamity against which it
then offers itself as a remedy.'

Pope Francis also has something to say about this:

Some people continue to defend
trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a
free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice
and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been
confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the
goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralised workings
of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still

When you've got a rich country like ours 'unable' to afford to ensure
that the more than 100,000 people experiencing homelessness or the more
than 200,000 people on the waiting list for social housing have a place
to call home, it is not a misfortune or a mistake. It is the sound of
the excluded still waiting.

When you've got more than 700,000 people unemployed and around
900,000 underemployed, on top of those who are set to lose their jobs
due to company closures, the dismembering of the public service and
government cuts to social spending — that is also the sound of the
excluded still waiting.

Let us not forget the woeful inadequacy of the Newstart payment, at
only 40 per cent of the minimum wage. Neither let us forget the single
mums who were forced onto the Newstart payment at the beginning of last
year, nor the working poor, for there are some who would like to squeeze
them even more by reducing the minimum wage and taking away what little
rights they have.

When the Government does a triple backflip and declares it is not
committed to the redistribution of resources recommended by the Gonski
review as a way to address the outrageous inequality that besmirches
education funding in Australia — once again, you loudly hear the sound
of the excluded still waiting.

The long, fruitless wait of the excluded for some of the wealth, some
of the resources, some of the hope to trickle down, is one of the most
audacious and sadly successful con jobs in modern history. It is not
misfortune. It is not a mistake. It is certainly not, as perversely
asserted by those who put the boot in, the fault of the excluded
themselves. Rather, it is an attack, sometimes by omission as well as by
commission, against ordinary people who are made to bear the burden of

As Francis points out:

As long as the problems of the poor are
not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and
financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of
inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for
that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.
That is why there is absolutely nothing unusual about understanding
this as an issue of class. And why Warren Buffett was quite correct when
he said: 'There's class warfare alright, but it's my class, the rich
class, that's making war, and we're winning.'

If the Budget and subsequent Government comments are anything to go
by the Government not only refuses to reduce inequality, it actually
wants to take from the poor to give to the rich.

We will not help young people into jobs by making them live on fresh
air and sunshine for six months of the year. We will not help them into
jobs by making them go to charities. We will not help people living with
a disability into jobs by reducing their income. We have moved to a
position where we condemn someone for not being able to get up the

If we really want to increase employment participation, whether for
young people, older unemployed people, people with a disability, single
mums or any other group that is locked out of the labour market, then we
will start looking honestly at problems in the labour market and set
about addressing its incapacities rather than pretending that the
incapacity, or unwillingness, lies with the individual.

We will build ramps rather than condemning people for not being able
to get up the stairs. And we won't sanctimoniously go on about the
ladder of opportunity while kicking the ladder away.

The simple truth is that behavioural approaches will not solve structural problems.

We do not have a 'welfare spending crisis'. We spend the second
lowest amount amongst the industrialised nations. We are not in the
throes of a fiscal crisis, but if we venture down the path of US-style
austerity we will be staring down the barrel of a social crisis.

As the 1975 Henderson Report on Poverty found: 'If poverty is seen as
a result of structural inequality within society, any serious attempt
to eliminate poverty must seek to change those conditions which produce

And as the groundbreaking 1996 Australian Catholic Bishops' Social
Justice Statement argued: 'In the main, people are poor not because they
are lazy or lacking in ability or because they are unlucky. They are
poor because of the way society, including its economic system, is

If we, as a society, really want to address the causes of poverty and
inequality, instead of, for example, extending Compulsory Income
Management, which is inherently disempowering and humiliating, we would
be guaranteeing income adequacy, housing security, education, health
and, now here's an idea ... jobs!

John FalzonDr John Falzon is Chief Executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council and is author of The Language of the Unheard.

Locked gate image from Shutterstock

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Thousands descend on Sydney CBD to protest the budget

Thousands descend on Sydney CBD to protest the budget

Thousands descend on Sydney CBD to protest the budget

Abbott Protest: 060714: SMH News: 6th of July 2014: Story by Stephanie Wood: Disgruntled citizens take to the streets to march against the Abbott/Hockey Budget reforms and the cutting of public services during a rally in the CBD of Sydney today. Photo by James Alcock.

Thousands of people marched through Sydney CBD protesting the government's budget. Photo: James Alcock

Central Sydney has filled with a sea of protesters for the "Bust the Budget" march.

Organisers estimated up to 15,000 people joined the rally,
which started at Town Hall and proceeded along George Street and up
Market Street.

Police figures put the number of marchers at 6000.

Thousands of people marched through Sydney CBD protesting the government's budget.
Thousands of people marched through Sydney CBD protesting the government's budget. Photo: Stephanie Wood

The protest was peaceful and police said there had been no reported incidents.

Allan Jones, who attended the march with his wife, Veronica
Carey, and intellectually disabled son, Ross, said he was concerned
about a range of issues. "I'm ashamed to be an Australian at times," Mr
Jones said.

Mr Jones singled out the treatment of asylum seekers,
disability care and cuts to education and the abandonment of the Gonski

Up to 20,000 people gather in Melbourne for  Bust the Budget rally.
Click for more photos

Bust the Budget Rally

Up to 20,000 people gather in Melbourne for Bust the Budget rally. Photo: Eddie Jim

  • Up to 20,000 people gather in Melbourne for  Bust the Budget rally.
  • Bust the Budget rally in Sydney.
  • Man in a Prime Minister Tony Abbott suit, during the Bust the Budget rally on the front lawn of Parliament House in Canberra.
  • Peppa Pig at the Melbourne rally.
  • Bust the Budget rally in Sydney.
  • Up to 20,000 people gather in Melbourne for Bust the Budget rally.
  • Up to 20,000 people gather in Melbourne for Bust the Budget rally.
  • Up to 20,000 people gather in Melbourne for Bust the Budget rally.
  • Man in a Prime Minister Tony Abbott suit, during the Bust the Budget rally on the front lawn of Parliament House in Canberra.
  • Up to 20,000 people gather in Melbourne for Bust the Budget rally.
  • Up to 20,000 people gather in Melbourne for Bust the Budget rally.
  • Bust the Budget rally in Sydney.

"It was a wonderful scheme. We are really disappointed about that."

Mr Jones, 79, who received an OAM in 2005 for services to
people with disabilities through his work with the Pittwater-based
Sailability NSW, said he also hated the secrecy surrounding the
government's refugee policy.

Cody Stucker and his wife, Marisa Whitington, attended the rally with their children Freddie, 6, and Jonathan, 2. 

Abbott Protest: 060714: SMH News: 6th of July 2014: Story by Stephanie Wood: Disgruntled citizens take to the streets to march against the Abbott/Hockey Budget reforms and the cutting of public services during a rally in the CBD of Sydney today. Photo by James Alcock.

b 0755.jpg
Organisations estimate 15,000 people showed up to march. Police suggest the number was closer to 6000. Photo: James Alcock

"I'm worried about education cuts in the budget for these two," said Ms Whitington.

Mark Lennon from Unions NSW said the latest federal budget was unfair.

"Not only is it unfair, it is deliberately unfair, because
this is not just about the budget, this is about a change of the agenda
for this nation.

Organisations estimate 15,000 people showed up to march. Police suggest the number was closer to 6000.
Organisations estimate 15,000 people showed up to march. Police suggest the number was closer to 6000. Photo: Stephanie Wood

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/thousands-descend-on-sydney-cbd-to-protest-the-budget-20140706-zsy20.html#ixzz36intqSuZ

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Bigots or the disabled? - - The Australian Independent Media Network

Bigots or the disabled? - - The Australian Independent Media Network

Bigots or the disabled?

There could be no starker signal of this government’s intentions
than the appointment of Tim Wilson as the Human Rights Commissioner for
‘Freedom’ at the expense of disability commissioner Graeme Innes.

In opposition, Senator Brandis was prepared to publicly criticise Mr
Innes for advocating on behalf of Australians with a disability, blaming
the ‘ideological culture’ within the Human Rights Commission.

The following biographies come from the Australian Human Rights
Commission website.  I will leave it to you to judge who you feel is
better qualified and able to make an important contribution to our

Graeme Innes
has been Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner since
December 2005. During that time he has also served as Australia’s Human
Rights Commissioner for three and a half years and as Race
Discrimination Commissioner for two years.

Graeme is a Lawyer, Mediator and Company Director. He has been a
Human Rights Practitioner for 30 years in NSW, WA and nationally.

As Commissioner, Graeme has led or contributed to the success of a
number of initiatives. These have included the Same Sex: Same
Entitlements inquiry, which resulted in removal of discrimination across
federal law; the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and its ratification by Australia.

Graeme was also crucial to the development of the National Disability
Strategy and the Disability (Access to Premises – buildings) Standards
2010; as well as the establishment of Livable Housing Australia.

Graeme has also been an active high profile advocate for the
implementation of cinema captioning and audio descriptions and, as Human
Rights Commissioner, undertook three annual inspections of Australia’s
Immigration Detention facilities.

Graeme has been a Member of the NSW Administrative Decisions
Tribunal; the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal; and the Social
Security Appeals Tribunal. He has also been a Hearing Commissioner with
the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Graeme was Chair of the Disability Advisory Council of Australia, and
the first Chair of Australia’s national blindness agency, Vision

In 1995 Graeme was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). In 2003, he was a finalist for Australian of the Year.

Graeme is married with an adult son and a daughter in high school. He
enjoys cricket (as a spectator) and sailing (as a participant), and
relaxes by drinking fine Australian white wine.”

Tim Wilson was appointed Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner in February 2014.

Dubbed the “Freedom Commissioner”, Tim is a proud and passionate
defender of universal, individual human rights. As Commissioner he is
focused on promoting and advancing traditional human rights and
freedoms, including free speech, freedom of association, worship and
movement and property rights.

Prior to his appointment Tim was a public policy analyst and a policy
director at the world’s oldest free market think tank, the Institute of
Public Affairs. He has also worked in trade and communication
consulting, international aid and development, as well politics. He has
served as a Board member of Monash University’s Council and on the
Victorian Board of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
Tim is a Director of Alfred Health.

He has extensive experience in public debate and has had many regular
radio and television commitments, with both commercial and public
broadcasters. The Australian newspaper recognised Tim as one of the ten
emerging leaders of Australian society. He has written extensively for
newspapers, journals and books. He recently co-edited the book Turning
Left or Right: Values in Modern Politics.

Tim graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Policy) and a Masters of
Diplomacy and Trade (International Trade) from Monash University. He has
also completed executive education at Geneva’s Institut de Hautes
Etudes Internationales et du Développement and the World Intellectual
Property Organisation’s Worldwide Academy.

Tim lives with his partner, Ryan.”

Graeme has vast experience and many practical accomplishments to
point to in his years of active service as an advocate for the disabled
and a defender against discrimination.  Tim Wilson is an aging Young
Liberal from the IPA who goes on tv a lot.

Wilson did not have to go through any application or interview
process to land this job.  George Brandis must have been impressed with
the cut of his jib when they spent an enjoyable evening together at the
IPA’s 70th Anniversary bash in April last year because, as
soon as he had the power, George rang Tim to tell him he had created a
new job for him that would pay well over $300,000 a year and he still
got to do his tv gigs.

Unfortunately, George did not offer any new money to the HRC to take Tim on.  Instead, he abolished Graeme’s position.

Andrew Bolt, who was MC for the IPA’s birthday party, in an article titled “In praise of George Brandis”, gives some insight into the reasons behind this decision when he quotes a Brendan O’Neill interview with Brandis.

 “He describes the climate-change debate as one of the
‘great catalysing moments’ in his views about the importance of free
speech.  He describes how Penny Wong … would ‘stand up in the Senate and
say “The science is settled”. In other words, “I am not even going to
engage in a debate with you”. It was ignorant, it was medieval, the
approach of these true believers in climate change.’ …. And to Brandis,
this speaks to a new and illiberal climate of anti-intellectualism, to
the emergence of ‘a habit of mind and mode of discourse which would deny
the legitimacy of an alternative point of view, where rather than
winning the argument [they] exclude their antagonists from the

You have to be kidding George.  The highly-funded denial campaign has
not only had a very loud voice in the media, it has successfully
dictated policy.  The opinion that “the science is settled” is shared by
all those not in thrall to the fossil fuel industry.

Your government has systematically gone about removing any voice of
dissent and silencing all argument in every arena.  Increasingly you are
hiding what you are doing, not only from the public, but from other
elected representatives.  Turning refugees into a military problem to
escape all accountability and oversight is beyond your legitimate
powers.  You have no right to act alone, refusing to answer questions
from the Senate.

The O’Neill interview continues…

“The second thing that made him sharpen his pen and open
his gob about the importance of freedom of speech was the case of Andrew
Bolt… In 2010, he wrote some blog posts for the Herald Sun website
criticising the fashion among ‘fair-skinned people’ to claim Aboriginal
heritage, under the headlines: ‘It’s so hip to be black’, ‘White is the
New Black’ and ‘White Fellas in the Black’… They were removed from the
Herald Sun’s website. Anyone who republishes them risks being arrested
and potentially jailed.

Brandis is stinging about this case. The judge ‘engaged in an act of
political censorship’, he says, with a journalist ‘prohibited from
expressing a point of view’. The reason Brandis is so keen to ditch the
bit of the Racial Discrimination Act that allowed such a flagrant act of
ideological censorship to take place in twenty-first-century Australia
is because while it is justified as a guard against outbursts of
dangerous racism, actually it allows the state to police and punish
legitimate public speech and debate. ‘And the moment you establish the
state as the arbiter of what might be said, you establish the state as
the arbiter of what might be thought, and you are right in the territory
that George Orwell foreshadowed’, he says…

Brandis says … he’s bent on overhauling Section 18C … because it
expands the authority of state into the realm of thought, where it
should never tread, he says. ‘…In my view, freedom of speech, by which I
mean the freedom to express and articulate beliefs and opinions, is a
necessary and essential precondition of political freedom.’

How does this gel with your direction to public servants that they may not post opinions critical of government policy on social media and that they should dob in any colleagues who do?

How does it fit in with the fact that Liberal Party MPs ban anyone
who posts links to documents (eg fiscal statements) or makes comments
disproving the rhetoric on their facebook pages?

How does it fit in with new laws outlawing the right to protest?

And could I suggest that Operation Sovereign Borders is as Orwellian as you can get.

I am assuming the 5,500 submissions received about your prosed repeal
of Section 18C is the kind of debate you welcome and that you and your
Freedom Commissioner may learn a few things.  One can only hope that you
pay attention.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Newman's Straddie sand mining bill: The Sibelco favours

Newman's Straddie sand mining bill: The Sibelco favours

Newman's Straddie sand mining bill: The Sibelco favours

Sand mining on North Stradbroke Island has scarred huge parts (Images via savestraddie.com)

Newman Government legislation that will almost certainly
allow environmentally devastating sand mining to continue on North
Stradbroke Island until 2035 are a travesty and should be repealed,
Richard Carew.

STEPHEN KEIM SC and Alex McKean’s 10 June IA article 'Clive Palmer, Jeff Seeney and Campbell Newman's Straddie donation' raises important questions
— in particular, relating to North Stradbroke Island sand miner
Sibelco’s large donation to Campbell Newman’s 2012 election campaign,
the 2013 special legislation favouring Sibelco and whether this involved

The issue was recently referred to the CMC by Labor’s Jackie Trad.

Unfortunately, the authors unintentionally endorsed mass media
misreporting of the North Stradbroke Island special sand mining
legislation. If not corrected, this is likely to contribute to the
current misunderstanding and confusion over the legislation.

The objective evidence illustrates that, in 2011, the former Labor
Government legislated to extend sand mining on North Stradbroke — not
end it as the authors assert.

This special legislation renewed key, already expired, mining leases,
side-stepping existing legislation and existing applications for
renewal. It also extinguished the pre-existing legal rights of opponents
to renewal in circumstances where the Supreme Court otherwise had the
power to overturn any decisions to renew. [See Financial Review article for more detail.]

The politicians provided mixed messages about the 2011 legislation. However, putting aside the politics, the explanatory notes to the 2011 Bill introduced into parliament by Labor’s Kate Jones conceded that the intention was, in fact, to extend sand mining.

For example, at page 3, the claimed policy objectives were to be

 '…achieved by renewing or extending certain leases needed for mining.'

The explanatory notes, at page 6, also conceded that the Enterprise
mine could not have continued without the renewal of a key expired

'…the Bill also renews a key lease at Enterprise Mine, which
expired over three years ago, prior to the current leaseholder acquiring
the mine and without which the mine would not be able to operate.'

It also stated:

'... the holder of a mining lease does not have a right to renewal.'

The latter statement was an oblique reference to section 286A of Queensland’s Mineral Resources Act (MRA), which set out how the expired lease applications
should have been dealt with.  The explanatory notes were otherwise
silent about the usual expired lease processes and the Bill’s breaches
of a number of fundamental legislative principles. The Bill was passed
without amendment without these breaches being identified or debated by

Labor legislated the extension of sand mining over the pre-existing legal rights of opponents to an extension.  

The key mining lease, ML 1117, had long expired (in 2007). Under
existing legislation mining could continue until the application for
renewal was dealt with. Labor sat on the application for years, despite
calls by environment groups and indigenous owners to refuse it. Supreme
Court precedent dictated that the minister had to be satisfied of all
the various factors listed in section 286A(1) of the MRA before renewal
was possible.

The opponents to renewal included North Stradbroke native title
owners and environment groups. They had legal advice that in the special
circumstances applying on North Stradbroke, there were good prospects
of overturning any renewal in the Supreme Court.

They called on the Minister, in writing, to refuse to renew. Instead,
Labor introduced the special legislation to extend sand mining.

But this still didn’t satisfy Sibelco.

It had wanted sand mining extended at the Enterprise mine to 2027, so
it could mine out the mineral sand deposits. Long standing evidence
from the mines owner until 2009, Consolidated Rutile Limited (CRL), established that this was the latest date by which heavy mineral sand deposits on North Stradbroke would be exhausted.

Sibelco spent millions of dollars on an orchestrated campaign
attempting to force the Labor Government to extend mining to 2027,
claiming that this had been promised by Labor. It included prime time
television advertisements, full page newspaper advertisements, cinema
advertising, social media and so on. It also included the $90,000 (plus)
so-called ‘straddie mothers’ campaign, centred on Newman’s Ashgrove

The second error made by the authors was to endorse mass media claims
that the Newman Government amendments to the North Stradbroke
legislation, passed in November 2013,

'... extended sand mining to 2035.'

The extension of sand mining to 2035 was certainly the intent of
Campbell Newman’s amendments, but it is not scheduled to happen until

In reality, the amending legislation does what the 2013 explanatory notes to the Bill state – on page 1 – as its objectives.

Namely, objective 1(a):

'... enable Sibelco to seek a renewal of mining leases in 2019 at the Enterprise mine until 2035.'

As well as objective 1(b), which came into operation immediately:

'... remove the restricted mine path and non-winning condition over part of the Enterprise mine.'

Unless the amending legislation is repealed, Sibelco will make its
renewal applications in 2019 and continue to mine outside the 2011
restricted mine path in the meantime. Newman’s amending legislation also
disallows conventional objection and judicial review rights of
opponents to renewal. This will ensure an extension of sand mining
beyond 2019, unless the legislation is repealed
either as a result of a successful legal challenge to the legislation
by native title owners or as a result of a change of government.

It is timely to remember that, in 1976, sand mining was stopped on Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, with just six week's notice. This followed the report of the Fraser Island Inquiry and the Federal Government’s acceptance that sand mining caused major, permanent environmental harm.

Using the same arguments as the Newman Government, the
Bjelke-Petersen Government lobbied for a two year transition away from
mining, but the Federal Government refused. Notably and somewhat
ironically, Campbell Newman’s father Kevin Newman, was then the Federal environment minister.

Sibelco and its supporters cannot legitimately complain about the
many years the company has been permitted to mine beyond the 2007 expiry
date of the key lease. 

The Newman amendments need to be repealed.  

Any extension of sand mining beyond Labor’s 2019 extension date would be a travesty.

Find out more about this issue at savestraddie.com.

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