Politics,Climate Change and Sundry issues

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

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


Monday, 26 January 2015

Judging Campbell Newman's Performance - The AIM Network

Judging Campbell Newman's Performance - The AIM Network

Judging Campbell Newman’s Performance

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman
has asked the people of Queensland to judge his government on its
performance. So let’s judge it on its approach to managing our most
precious resource – water. Tom Crothers reports.

Since coming to office in March 2012 the Newman Government has
removed the moratorium on water development on Cape York Peninsular
before the Water Resource Plan had been developed. This allows
landholders on the Cape to secure large quantities of water entitlement
for minimal cost while the water plan is still being prepared.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps led the charge to repeal the Wild Rivers Act;
legislation that protected the water quality of streams/rivers and
prevented inappropriate development on adjoining floodplains in
undeveloped river systems.

Minister Cripps also amended the Water Act
to progressively dismantle Queensland’s water planning and allocation
framework – recognised as one of the best frameworks in Australia.
Cripps also amended
the Mineral Resources Act, allowing miners unlimited interference and
access to associated groundwater in their mining operations. This will
potentially result in a decline or loss of water supplies for existing
landholders and rural communities.

The government also removed the rights of the general public, local
authorities and interest groups to object and appeal to the granting of
an environmental authority (without an EA [environmental authority] the
miners cannot commence water extraction) and the granting of a mining

Minister Cripps’ department went on to amend the
Cooper Creek Resource Operations Plan to allow the trading of large
“sleeper” water licences without following the due processes of the Water Act 2000.

At Deputy Premier Seeney’s direction, Minister Cripps passed retrospective legislation
to allow a sand and gravel operation in the Brisbane River (at Harlin)
to continue excavations, thus ceasing a DNR&M compliance
investigation for unauthorised removal of sand and gravel resource.

The Coordinator-General has approved the extraction of up to 1770GL of groundwater from the Galilee Basin
aquifers by the Alpha, Kevin’s Corner, Galilee Coal and Carmichael mega
coal mines. This will have significant impacts on the water supplies of
up to 39 landholders with existing rights and livelihoods that depend
on access to this water.

Minister Cripps ignored the recommendations of the landholder’s Land Court
appeal to the Alpha Mine – which outlined that a “more cautious
approach” be taken in the management of the Galilee Region’s groundwater
resources and progressed legislation that allows miners a statutory
right to access associated groundwater without and Water act approvals.

The heavily LNP stacked Agriculture, Resources and Environment
Parliamentary Committee ignored stakeholder submissions to address the
serious flaws in the current “Make Good Arrangements” framework for
landholders impacted by mining and gas operations. The current framework
is still seriously flawed and heavily slanted in favour of the
Resources Industry.

The Newman Government has by no means finished dismantling good
public policy. If returned to government next week it proposes two more
significant changes. The first is to allow up to 522GL/annum of water to
be taken from the Gilbert River and up to 385GL/annum to be taken from
the Flinders River in the Gulf of Carpentaria for new irrigation
projects. This will have unknown impacts on the Gulf’s barramundi and
prawn fisheries.

The second is to allow fracking and the take of water from the GAB in
the Cooper Basin for deep gas and oil production. Fracking has been
banned in a number of States in the USA, including New York State due to
identified health impacts. At risk is a clean, green beef industry and
growing tourism sector.

The Newman Government has made much of its “Strong Plan” for
Queensland. Judging by its past performance, this will cause
irreversible damage to our water resources, destroy our rich
biodiversity and internationally recognised ecosystems and even further
diminish the rights of Queensland landholders.

Before casting their votes on Saturday, rural Queenslanders should
carefully consider the Newman government’s disappointing performance –
and ask themselves just whose interests this “Strong Plan” will serve
over the next 3 years.

Australia Day 2015: Advance Australia Fair?

Australia Day 2015: Advance Australia Fair?

527 8

A different rewrite by another (unknown) author



Australians let us all despair

No longer young or free

With golden soil and wealth for toil

We’d rather watch TV.

Our land abounds in nature’s gifts

Of beauty, rich and rare

But History’s page shows every stage

Australia is unfair.

In mournful tones then let us sing

“Australia is unfair”.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross

We close our hearts and hands.

We make this Commonwealth of ours

A shame in all the lands.

For those who’ve come across the seas

We’ve only jails to share.

Where’s courage when we all combine

To make ourselves unfair?

In mournful tones then let us sing

“Australia is unfair”.

Australian folk let us complain

For we are poor and weak.

The Coalition of the rich

Has stitched us up a trick.

Our land abounds in greedy banks

And retail profiteers;

Screwed up from birth for all our worth

We drown ourselves in beer.

In mournful tones then let us sing

“Australia is unfair”

Equality was once our strength

Our health was good and free.

Now education costs too much

We have no parity.

Our youths despair of getting jobs;

Our future seems unsure;

Evading tax, polluting air

It seems we do not care.

In mournful tones then let us sing

“Australia is unfair”.

(Copyright Ian and Helen Bersten)

Abbott admits he’s wasting 4.3 million taxpayer dollars - The AIM Network

Abbott admits he’s wasting 4.3 million taxpayer dollars - The AIM Network

Abbott admits he’s wasting 4.3 million taxpayer dollars

Tony Abbott “continues to make the most astounding, cringe-worthy gaffes that stretch all credulity” writes Jennifer Wilson.

This, today from a Prime Minister who spends 4.3 million of taxpayer dollars monitoring social media, and employing spin doctors to “offer strategic communications advice” from the information gleaned:

I’ll leave social media to its own devices [said Abbott today]. Social
media is kind of like electronic graffiti and I think that in the
media, you make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social
media,” Mr Abbott said. 
You wouldn’t report what’s sprayed up on the walls of buildings…

In spite of that 4.3 million taxpayer dollars’ worth of strategic
communication advice, in spite of the iron control reportedly exerted
over the PM by Chief of Staff Peta Credlin, Abbott continues to make the
most astounding, cringe-worthy gaffes that stretch all credulity, and
nobody wants him anywhere near them.

So it would seem the spin doctors and Ms Credlin are catastrophically
useless at their jobs, because just when you think Abbott can’t get
anymore bizarre, he goes and smashes all his previous records of stupid.

If Credlin and the strategic communications advisors were employed by
anyone other than the LNP government they’d be sacked. I wonder how any
of them will ever find alternative employment, given their unbroken
record of spectacular failure with the Prime Minister.

Please do leave social media to its own devices, Mr Abbott, and stop
wasting our money on monitoring it to see what it’s saying about you.
It’s never anything good, you can be sure of that. How many millions of
our dollars do you need to spend to find out what an absolute fool we
think you are?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You can’t make a silk
purse out of a pig’s ear. No matter how many dollars and spin doctors
 you throw at it, you just can’t. A pig’s ear is a pig’s ear and right
now, on Australia Day 2015, we have a pig’s ear in charge.

(I suppose I should say sorry to pigs, who are really pretty smart animals.)

(Which Tony Abbott is not. A smart animal, that is.)

Image from noplaceforsheep
Image from noplaceforsheep

This article was first publish on No Place For Sheep.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Crazy Campbell's Queensland chances

Crazy Campbell's Queensland chances

2,424 30

To widespread
incredulity and much Twitter mirth, Campbell Newman told Annastacia
Paluszczuk the onus was on Labor to prove it did not accept donations
from bikies

Only Sarah Palin has run a campaign as crazy as
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s and now only Rupert Murdoch can
save him, writes Bob Ellis.

Only Sarah Palin has run a campaign as crazy as Campbell Newman’s. It may well be that Murdoch will save him. Certainly, the ‘undecided’ People’s Forum voters were a help. But, after yesterday, when he told Toowoombans vote for me or else, the democracy is up for sale, his task is harder now. Is there a Queenslander left who admires him? I doubt it.

Most startling is the lead over him Palaszczuk has in the latest Newspoll as preferred Premier: 46 to 36. This, for a female Opposition Leader, has only one precedent in world history, that of Aung San Suu Kyi.
It derives from Newman’s sarmajor personality: shout, shout, and keep
shouting — and the cowed, shuffling conscripts will do what you say.

It is likely that he lost this election, as Bligh did hers, within weeks of his victory. The first thing he did was abolish the Premier’s Literary Awards,
thus saving each taxpayer one cent a week. Arnie Schwarzenegger
abolishing the Oscars would have shown similar cunning. The awards cost
about $400,000. The tourism generated by them that weekend would have
covered it. If it didn’t, the remaining half cent a week per taxpayer
was not too big a cost.

This was at the start of his administration. And now, at the end of it, we have what must be called The Toowoomba Declaration. It’s up to Paluszczuk, not me, he said, to prove she’s not a bikie’s moll and if you want any money spent here, vote for me.

It was corruption writ plain and large: this democracy is for sale and any big lie will do.

But he lost the election, probably – if he did – a good deal before that. It was when he sacked the first midwife.
Better some babies die than we squander this money on these interfering
harridans, he was saying. Better some babies are never born.

Ellis’s Third Law, The first sign of incompetence is charisma, is worth remembering here. The charismatic man does not listen and consequently never learns.

Newman in the Forum talked three-quarters of the time, nearly always
boastfully, sometimes charmingly. But he ended up, after all that talk,
in an excruciating capitulation to principles, by Tony Fitzgerald, he had earlier denounced. He denounced them because he did not, earlier on, read and consider them. He was too busy talking, laying down the law.

It is a little hard to predict, with ease or accuracy, what exactly will happen on Saturday. Thirty-six seats are a lot to win and the last pro-Newman commercials may have some effect.

But it is not as if he, like Howard, had 20 years of ministerial and
shadow ministerial experience at his back when he was first uplifted. It
is not as if the LNP is an old party — it is a new party, which has
lost at least 10 per cent since its huge landslide, with many, many
broken promises and a hundred thousand disrupted lives to defend or

It is not as if they have done well. Unemployment is up, many prices
are up, the doctors, nurses, police and legal officials are in uproar,
and an adjacent Abbott Government is threatening old people – and there
are a lot of old people in Queensland – with various gradations of

And Newman, yesterday, said vote for me or else. One is reminded of Woody Allen saying, in Sleepers:

"Give us what we want or the nose gets it."

He may get there, but no-one will vote for him gladly, or trustingly. The bookies have him losing his seat and it takes a special kind of politician – like Howard – to do that.

One who is out of touch and proud of it.

And we will see what we shall see.

Please support Independent Australia by making a donation.

Think very carefully Queensland - The AIM Network

Think very carefully Queensland - The AIM Network

Think very carefully Queensland

When Queensland goes to the polls next Saturday they will be
voting for their future – the future of their freedom, their democracy,
their environment, the Great Barrier Reef, and their children.

Because of Queensland’s chequered political history and the behaviour
of the current government, all political parties were recently asked to
acknowledge good governance obligations expressed in very simple terms;
that is, to:

  • make all decisions and take all actions, including public
    appointments, in the public interest without regard to personal, party
    political or other immaterial considerations;
  • treat all people equally without permitting any person or corporation special access or influence; and
  • promptly and accurately inform the public of its reasons for all significant or potentially controversial decisions and actions

Bizarrely, the Liberal National Party alone refused to commit to
those constraints or to explain its reasons though Newman, under
pressure at the leader’s debate, seemed to change his mind (possibly).

It is effectively telling voters that, if it is elected, it will do
as it pleases; in effect, it will continue the behaviour which marked
its first term and led to its heavy losses in recent by-elections.

With its single house of Parliament and history of political
malpractice, Queensland is especially vulnerable to the misuse of
political power.

In an article titled “Queensland political ethics:  a perfect oxymoron”, Tony Fitzgerald recently said of the Newman government

“During its brief term in power, the present government treated the
community with contempt. From behind a populist facade, it engaged in
nepotism, sacked, stacked and otherwise reduced the effectiveness of
parliamentary committees, subverted and weakened the state’s
anti-corruption commission, made unprecedented attacks on the courts and
the judiciary, appointed a totally unsuitable chief justice, reverted
to selecting male judges almost exclusively and, from a position of
lofty ignorance, dismissed its critics for their effrontery.”

The Q Forum
has raised millions of dollars for the Queensland LNP and helped make
the party the richest single political organisation in the country,
according to the latest Australian Electoral Commission figures.

In July the LNP changed electoral disclosure laws to increase the
threshold at which donations had to be declared, from $1,000 to $12,400.

The figure has since been inflation-adjusted to $12,800.

As a result, public disclosures of donations have become far less detailed.

Former Fitzgerald Inquiry special counsel Gary Crooke, who helped
jail Queensland government ministers over corruption in the 1980s,
described fundraising by charging for access to ministers as a “cancer”
that kept coming back in politics and a betrayal of a fundamental public

“They’re at it again with bells on, running these things where they
are selling no more and no less than the community’s property that they
hold in trust, in order to feather the coffers of a political party,” he

Mr Crooke, who also served as Queensland Integrity Commissioner, said
such practices were “so unethical and so much in breach of fundamental
duty that there should be a law prohibiting it”.

Now we have the bizarre situation of Campbell Newman (and others)
suing Alan Jones for his allegations that Newman lied to him about the
New Hope mine before the last election.

The decision to allow Acland to mine another 3m tonnes of coal a year was announced on the Friday before Christmas.

New Hope and its parent company, Washington H Soul Pattinson, donated more than $700,000 to the LNP at a state and federal level between 2011 and 2013.

Asked if New Hope’s donations influenced the government’s approval, Newman said: “I will not be commenting on Alan Jones.”

Asked by Guardian Australia if LNP officials had indicated whether
the party’s donations had risen since it raised the secrecy threshold,
Newman replied that he had “no idea”.

Ian Walker took a donation from a board director of New Hope Coal
before his election in 2012 and, as the minister for science,
information technology, innovation and the arts, subsequently oversaw
the department which cleared levels of air pollution from uncovered coal
trains in Brisbane before the expansion of New Hope’s Acland mine.

The pollution study by Walker’s department was released to companies
including New Hope a week before it was made public in 2013.

Clean Air Queensland’s organiser Michael Kane claimed the government
study clearing the pollution levels by averaging emissions over 24 hours
was “absolutely the wrong methodology.”

New Hope’s chairman, Robert Millner, was called before the
Independent Commission Against Corruption (Icac) in NSW last year over a
donations controversy involving another Washington H Soul Pattinson
subsidiary of which he was chairman, Brickworks.

But what can we expect when the head of corporate affairs for a
mining company has been in charge of developing policy on the
environment for Queensland’s ruling Liberal National Party (LNP) since

James Mackay also worked full-time for the LNP during the 2012
election, while he was being paid $10,000 a month by the company, QCoal.

Mr Mackay has chaired the LNP’s state environment and heritage
protection committee, which develops policy for discussion at the
party’s annual conference, since being voted on to the committee in

Shortly after coming to power in 2012 the LNP introduced a bill to
remove “green tape” or what it considered to be unnecessary or
superfluous environmental regulation.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said at the time that the state was “in the coal business” and if people wanted new schools and hospitals they had to accept that the state needed royalties from coal mining.

QCoal boss Mr Wallin gave $120,000 to the party in two donations just before the 2012 state election.

Campbell Newman is trying to tell us that mining will boost employment.  In 2013-14 it did not even rate in the top ten employers by industry with about a quarter of the number of people employed in health care and social assistance.

The mining lobby keeps telling us about the great contribution it makes to the Australian economy. There is a lot of exaggeration in this and often much worse.

  • As Ross Gittins in the SMH and others point out mining accounts for
    about 10% of our national production, but only 2% of employment. The
    large increase in mining investment in recent years has mainly been to
    purchase equipment from overseas.
  • About 80% of our very profitable mining industry is foreign owned.
    BHP/Biliton is 76% foreign owned, RioTinto 83% and Xstrata 100%. This
    means that 80% of mining profits accrue to foreign shareholders and not
    to Australians. In this situation it is important for the owners of the
    minerals; we Australians, that we get some worthwhile return either in
    taxes or royalties.
  • State governments do receive royalties from mining companies for the
    exploitation of our national resources, but they hand a lot back to the
    mining companies. According to the Australia Institute, the states gave
    the mining companies $3.2 billion in concessions last year – mainly in
    providing railway infrastructure and freight discounts. In Queensland,
    these concessions or subsidies were equivalent to about 60% of the
    royalties the Queensland government received.
  • Michael West in the SMH
    on 27 April 2014 points out that Australia’s largest coal miner,
    Glencore/Xstrata paid no company tax at all over the last three years
    despite an income of $15 billion.  According to West it achieved this
    remarkable result of paying no company tax by paying 9% interest on $3.4
    billion in loans from overseas associates.  This 9% incidentally was
    about double the interest it would have had to pay in the open market or
    from a bank. Having paid 9% on these borrowings to load up its “costs”
    in Australia it then lent money to ‘related parties’ interest-free. We
    are not told who these related parties were. But there is more.
    Apparently there has been a large increase in Glencore’s coal sales to
    ‘related companies’ from 27% to 46%. This would seem to indicate
    transfer pricing to shift income to lower tax countries. In this regard
    Michael West reported on the complex Glencore company structure. ‘The
    Glencore structure is now run as a series of business units controlled
    by one company [Glencore/Xstrata Plc) which is incorporated in the UK,
    listed on the London and other stock exchanges, with its registered
    office in Jersey (a tax haven) and its headquarters in Baar,
    Switzerland. It is probably all legal but is it right?

Indian-based company Adani has a large mine proposal at Carmichael in
the Gallilee Basin and needs to build a rail line 388 kilometres to
Abbott Point port where the coal will be exported.  Campbell Newman has
offered $300 million of taxpayer funds to build the railway despite
Adani having trouble finding finance for its mining operation with most
financiers saying it is not commercially viable.

Adani plans to export 100 million tonnes a year of coal to India and provide 2400 jobs.

Adani’s chief executive Sandeep Mahta estimates their coal plant
generates more than $6 billion in royalties for the Queensland
Government in its first decade of operation.

Reef tourism generates over 60,000 jobs and $6 billion a year in revenue to the Queensland economy.

If you agree with Campbell that the coal business is your future and
you are prepared to sacrifice the Reef and the revenue and tourism jobs
it sustains for a project that the banks won’t touch then you will
probably vote for the Coalition.  Get back to me on how that works out.

PS  Could we please have less public kissing.

tony and lisa

Friday, 23 January 2015

For services to having lots of money: Australia Day honours list announced

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Thousands more public service jobs to be scoped for privatisation

Thousands more public service jobs to be scoped for privatisation

Reporter for The Canberra Times

Tens of thousands more Australian  public service jobs are to be
sized-up for potential privatisation as the Abbott government begins
work on its "contestability program".

One public sector expert has
warned the program is the beginning of a "slow bleed" of the federal
bureaucracy that could ultimately see more than 30,000 Commonwealth
government jobs lost in the coming years.

The Finance Department
has confirmed that  "portfolio stocktakes" are underway with government
departments being assessed to see if their work can be farmed-out to
either the private sector or the  commonwealth's growing  "shared
services" operation.


Departmental bosses will also be ordered to replace their public
servants with technology wherever they can and ICON, the high-tech
secure communication network linking government departments in Canberra
is also being scoped for sale.

Do you know more? Send confidential tips to ps@canberratimes.com.au

"pilot stocktakes" have begun at the Finance and Communication
departments in an effort to get the methodology right before all
 commonwealth operations, including big frontline Departments such as
Human Services and the Australian Taxation Office, get the
contestability treatment in a process that could take three years.  

Minister Mathias Cormann, whose own department is implementing the
program, has made it clear that he wants to know which government
functions should be exposed to competition from private players and
which can be taken over by the private sector.

A Finance
Department spokeswoman confirmed this week that the pilot stocktakes at
her own department and at Education were in progress and were due to be
completed in "early 2015."

"Efficiency reviews" promised for all
departments by Senator Cormann, were also underway, according to the
spokeswoman with Health and Education the first operations to come under
scrutiny from "independent experts".

Public sector finance expert Professor Janine O'Flynn
of the University of Melbourne said the  contestability program was
part of the third phase of the government's public sector reforms and
that it could have a larger impact than the first two stages.

was the big sleeper on budget night which could have a much bigger
impact in the long run on both the scope and the scale (of the APS) than
any of the other phases," Professor O'Flynn said.

"Once you get into that area-by-area assessment for potential outsourcing, I think that's where the big cuts are going to come.

"At the time when those 16500 jobs
were announced, I made a private prediction that we might hit over
30,000 by the time you include what will start to happen once the
 contestability framework kicks in.

"It's a rough prediction but
once you start to go through the big bureaucratic structure, and start
picking pieces off, I think what we'll see is a bigger number [of jobs]
than everyone was worried about before."

The government has
already shown it will not shy away from privatisations with scoping
studies for sell-offs of the Australian Mint, Defence Housing Australia,
Australian Hearing Services and the Australian Securities and
Investments Commission registry already underway.

Centrelink and some Veterans Affairs payment services may be taken over
by private players and the Finance Department is also looking at the
sale of ICON, the point-to-point fibre connection system that links 80
government agencies at 400 sites around Canberra.