Monday, 31 December 2007
McCallum wrote, in part:
"The most interesting political story of the holiday break came not from the news pages, where
the election and its aftermath had finally succumbed to the demands of sport, but from the letters column of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Last week a social worker from St Johns Church in Canberra revealed that on the morning of Boxing Day the Prime Minister, unannounced and accompanied only by a security guard, had
arrived to help serve breakfast to the homeless of the national capital, of whom there are rather more than is generally supposed. Kevin Rudd talked to both workers and clients at some length,
and then announced as the most serious of his new year resolutions his intention to do something about the plight of the homeless.
A cynic commented that this would all have been more convincing if he had been engaged in similar activities before becoming Prime Minister – but he had. During the hectic campaign, after the exhausted media retired for the weekend, Rudd regularly visited homeless centres in whichever city he found himself.
As with St Johns the visits took place without any kind of publicity, and the fact that they had taken place only came out after polling day. They were acts of private charity and compassion
which some observers have clearly found surprising and disconcerting in a man who has been seen as a ruthlessly efficient and single minded politician."
To read more about this go to http://www.echo.net.au/archives/22_29/pdf/p10.pdf
Comment: Former PM Howard had neither the guts nor the common decency to do anything such as this during his 11+ years in the post. What more needs to be said, other than good riddance to bad rubbish.
Here's one New Year's resolution that will be relatively easy to keep - reduce the amount of palm oil which comes into the house in products you buy.
Palm oil plantations are expanding to Australia's north and causing rapid deforestation with loss of habitiat for the endangered Orangutan.
According to the Palm Oil Action Group at http://www.palmoilaction.org.au/
"Only 3 vegetable oils must be labelled in food products in Australia and New Zealand. Those are peanut oil, sesame oil and soy bean oil. The reason for this is that a percentage of the population suffers allergies to these oils.
All other vegetable oils can be labelled as vegetable oil. However the label must declare the amount of saturated fat in the product. So if the label states vegetable oil and then goes on to state the amount of saturated fat you can count on that vegetable oil being either palm kernel oil, palm oil or coconut oil. This is a way of potentially identifying if a product has palm oil in it as other vegetable oils are not saturated. This is for Australia and New Zealand only. Labelling may be different in other countries.
Also if palm oil is used in cosmetics it must be labelled. No exceptions. However it is usually not labelled as Palm oil. It is labelled as Elaeis guineensis This is the name given to palm oil by the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredients. (INCI). Misleading labels on cosmetics can lead to action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Association.
So if you want to avoid buying palm oil, when buying food look for the label stating it is vegetable oil. Then look for saturated fat. If only vegetable oil (no animal fat listed) is used and there is saturated fat in the product - you are buying palm kernel oil, palm oil or coconut oil, most probably palm.
"above information provided by primates4primates quoting Australian Government sources"
The image above shows some products this site identifies as containing palm oil. Not forgetting takeaway foods like KFC fried chicken and most soaps.
Monday, 31 December 2007
Here they come again?
Unfortunately this also means that the Commission is obliquely taking aim at the NSW Northern Rivers region once more.
It seems that damming coastal rivers, such as the Clarence River or one of its tributaries, is still on the minds of both water barons and bureaucrats.
"Mr Matthews also criticised governments for failing to charge the full cost of water supply, and for implementing "policy bans" - positions taken for political reasons, such as the government stance on desalination plants, dams and other infrastructure.
"It is really important that they should all be on the table, they should go through a process of analysis, logic and evidence," he said.
"To have a policy ban at the outset is, in my view, indefensible."
The Rudd Government and local Labor MPs Janelle Saffin and Justine Elliot need to remember that the Clarence Valley voted them in on the back of an unequivocal assurance that a Labor federal government would not seek or endorse water diversion from the Clarence River catchment area."
Sunday, 30 December 2007
Clarence Valley Council admits there is little that can be done for property owners in the face of 'inevitable' coastal erosion
Saturday, 29 December 2007
Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
NSW SEVERE WEATHER WARNING
For people in
Issued at 5:20 am on Saturday 29 December 2007
Synoptic Situation: 3:00 am EDT Saturday
A developing elongated tropical low with a central pressure of 1000hPa is developing over the Coral Sea about 275km nautical miles east-northeast of Gladstone. The low is expected to move southeast and intensify during the next 24 hours. Persistent easterly winds south of the low will result in increasing easterly swells along the northern New South Wales coast.
Damaging surf conditions are expected on Sunday on the far North Coast between Tweed Heads and Wooli, with waves expected to exceed 5 metres in the surf zone. These waves are likely to cause significant beach erosion. Dangerous surf conditions with waves around 3 metres are expected to affect the Northern Rivers today, and the northern parts of the Mid North Coast on Sunday.
Emergency services advise you check your property regularly for erosion or inundation by sea water, and if necessary, raise goods and electrical items.
Surf Life Saving Australia recommends that you stay out of the water and stay well away from surf-exposed areas.
For emergency help in floods and storms, ring the SES [NSW and ACT] on telephone number 132 500.
The next warning is due to be issued by 11 am Saturday.
This warning is also available through TV and Radio broadcasts; the Bureau's website at www.bom.gov.au or call 1300 659 218. The Bureau and State Emergency Service would appreciate this warning being broadcast regularly.
Sunday, 23 December 2007
Forgot to be consistently kind to children and help little old ladies across the road these last ten years? Then the drought's all your fault!
Leader Danny Nalliah said moral decline, not climate change, was responsible for the drought.
"Australia has turned away from Almighty God ... the sinful condition of mankind has contributed to the stem of rainfall," he said."
Saturday, 22 December 2007
I understand that it can be difficult for many pensioners to meet the rising cost of goods like food, petrol and utilities bills. Federal Labor's plan to help pensioners with the costs of living – Making Ends Meet – was released earlier this month, and includes increases to the Utilities Allowance and the Telephone Allowance for eligible pensioners. We hope that this will go some way to helping pensioners with their cost of living pressures. We have also committed to increasing the pension in line with a new pensioner cost of living index, which would more accurately reflect the wider consumer price index, or in line with increases to the benchmark of 25 per cent of average male weekly earnings, whichever is higher."
Friday, 21 December 2007
Thursday, 20 December 2007
The Australian Electoral Commission has announced that the count for the election of six Senators for Victoria was completed earlier today.
The successful candidates for the six Senate vacancies for Victoria are (in order of their election):
- Jacinta Collins (ALP)
- Mitch Fifield (Liberal)
- Gavin Marshall (ALP)
- Helen Kroger (Liberal)
- Scott Ryan (Liberal)
- David Feeney (ALP)
Wednesday 19 December 2007
ASIC has commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria against six former directors and officers of AWB Limited (AWB).
ASIC alleges that the defendants contravened section 180 of the Corporations Act, which requires company officers to act with care and diligence, and section 181, which requires company officers to discharge their duties in good faith and for a proper purpose.
ASIC is asking the Court for declarations that each defendant has breached the law, the imposition of pecuniary penalties (for each breach a maximum of $200,000), and disqualification of each defendant from managing a corporation.
These actions arise out of investigations following Cole Inquiry. The structure of those investigations is as follows:
(a) The AFP and Victoria Police are investigating criminal breaches of both Commonwealth and Victorian law (which investigations continue).
(b) ASIC is responsible for investigations under the ASIC Act, possible civil and criminal breaches of the Corporations Act.
Investigations into civil penalty proceedings was given more priority by ASIC because of the statute of limitation periods which apply to those actions and which do not apply to possible criminal proceedings (which investigations by ASIC continue). Commissioner Cole examined 27 contracts between AWB and the Iraqi Grain Board (IGB). The Corporations Act limits the time for the commencement of civil penalty proceedings to six years. The time limit had expired for 20 of the contracts when the Cole Inquiry concluded in November 2006 and two expired in February and June 2007.
The contracts covered by ASIC's proceedings were entered into between 20 December 2001 and 11 December 2002 and involved the payment of AUD$126.3 million in breach of UN sanctions.
The defendants in the ASIC actions are:
- Andrew Lindberg, the former Managing Director of AWB;
- Trevor Flugge, the former Chairman of AWB;
- Peter Geary, the former Group General Manager Trading of AWB;
- Paul Ingleby, the former Chief Financial Officer of AWB;
- Michael Long, the former General Manager of International Sales and Marketing for AWB (2001-2006); and
- Charles Stott, the former General Manager of International Sales and Marketing for AWB (2000-2001).
ASIC alleges that Messrs Long, Geary and Stott were officers of AWB who:
- knew of and implemented various AWB contracts that included the purported inland transportation fees;
- were aware or ought to have been aware that the fees were not genuine; and
- knew or ought to have known that the fees were, or were likely to be, contraventions of the UN sanctions upon trade with Iraq.
- knew, or ought to have known, about the AWB contracts that included the purported inland transportation fees;
- had obligations to make reasonable inquiries to ensure that AWB complied with obligations under UN sanctions upon trade with Iraq;
- were aware, or ought to have been aware, that the fees were not genuine; and
- knew, or ought to have known, that the fees were, or were likely to be, contraventions of the UN sanctions.
ASIC Chairman, Tony D'Aloisio said 'We have commenced these actions as we believe that the conduct of the directors and officers in these circumstances fell short of what the law requires in relation to the management and supervision of corporations'.
ASIC alleges the payment of the inland transportation fees were in breach of UN Sanctions on Trade with Iraq, in particular Resolution 661, which prevented member states from making any payments that resulted in funds being made available to the Government of Iraq.
The regulator also believes Resolution 986 was breached. This resolution required funds from the UN Oil-for-Food program to be used exclusively to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi population. "
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Taxpayers make sure candidates are not seriously out of pocket and in some cases may even award a healthy profit.
With independently wealthy Liberal Malcolm Turnbull rumoured to have partially funded Libs and Nats in marginal seats, one has to wonder if unsuccessful North Coast Nationals will end up making a slight profit on the whole political exercise.
Chris Gulaptis who lost in Page appears to be taking home around $77,317 in AEC authorised payment.
Sue Page who lost in Richmond seems to be receiving about $63,289.
In case you're wondering - that's a bit over $2 for every person who marked them as number one on the ballot paper.
JULIA GILLARD: I can very clearly tell you what's in it, Brad. The transition bill, the policy decisions associated with it will go to Cabinet before Christmas. We will have our transition bill for the opening of Parliament next year. And the transition bill is a very simple one - it will end the ability of employers to make Australian Workplace Agreements. Now the choice here for the Liberal Party and for the Leader of the Opposition is very clear - do they want to support Labor's bill and end forever the ability of Australians to have the safety net at work stripped away from them or do they stand for stripping away the safety net from Australians at work? It's a clear choice. Australian Workplace Agreements can strip the safety net away. We want to end that. Does the Leader of the Opposition support ordinary Australians at work being at risk of losing basic conditions?
BRAD NORINGTON: You've been very quite clear, specific - the bill is all about abolishing Australian Workplace Agreements. When will Labor reinstate unfair dismissal laws for all workers? JULIA GILLARD: For anybody who has read our policy plans - and they were comprehensively published many months before the election - people would know the transition bill was always going to be about ending workplace agreements. There of course will be a second substantial piece of legislation which will deliver on the rest of our promises, including that the promise to ensure there's a simple unfair dismissal system. I simply don't believe it's fair or balanced for a worker who has given good service for 5, 10, 15, 20 years to lose their work without reason and have no remedy. Once again, it's a question for the Leader of the Opposition - does he think that's fair, that after 20 years you could be sacked for no reason and have no remedy because that's what WorkChoices provides and that's what we want to get rid of?
BRAD NORINGTON: Will you overturn the Howard Government's unfair dismissal regime and give all workers the right to claim unfair sacking?
JULIA GILLARD: Well, we will do that in our substantive piece of legislation. We will get that in to the Parliament as soon as it can be done. Obviously we want to draft it in a consultative way, including an exposure draft, that will take a number of months. People should anticipate that in the first half of next year.
MARIA HAWTHORNE: You will try and get that through with a hostile Senate? We'd be saying to the National Party and the Liberal Party that the Australian people have spoken and they've asked for a fair and balanced industrial relations system. This wasn't a marginal part of the last election campaign, it was a key part. So we would ask for the will of the Australian people to be honoured and ask the Liberal Party and the National Party, do they stand by awards stripping AWAs, do they stand by good workers being sacked unfairly for no reason and having no remedy?
BRAD NORINGTON: Labor achieved a lot of support from people because of its promise to abolish the Howard Government's WorkChoices. What do you say to people who may have a long wait for the AWAs are abolished and based on what you have just told us, may have to wait many months before they have a right to claim unfair dismissal?
JULIA GILLARD: We've always been crystal clear with the Australian people about this. It's in our published policy and I said it consistently in the run-up to the election - we can't overnight undo all of the harm that the Howard government has done to working Australians through WorkChoices. We need to legislate for change. We want to legislate in a careful and measured way. We want to get the legislation right. The last thing we want to do with the substantial piece of legislation is do what the Howard government did with WorkChoices, which is draft it poorly and then amend it again and again and again. We want to get it right first time. We'll take the time necessary to do that. But from that piece of legislation on, WorkChoices will be over and there will be a fair and balanced system for people in this country. That's what they voted for and they voted for knowing it would take some time to build because we told them that before the election."
Meet the Press transcript for 2 December:
According to a media release yesterday the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has authorised the first payment to political parties and candidates for votes received at the 2007 federal election.
The total of the first payment is $46,536,277.23. Payments have been made to seven parties and 15 independent candidates.
Payment is made in two stages. The first stage is 95 per cent of the amount due based on the number of votes counted as at the 20th day after election day. The second is the remainder due once vote counting is finalised.
Payments are calculated using an indexed sum per first preference vote. At the 2007 federal election, each first preference vote was worth 210.027 cents.
In order to obtain election funding a candidate must obtain at least 4% of the first preference vote.
At the 2004 federal election, the AEC paid out $41,926,158.91 in total to ten Parties and 15 independent candidates. The funding rate for the 2004 federal election was 194.397 cents per vote.
Below is a breakdown of the first payment of election funding for the 2007 federal election
AMOUNT AS AT THE END OF COUNTING ON 14 DECEMBER 2007
Name Amount ($)
Australian Labor Party 20,922,325.51
Liberal Party of Australia 17,222,359.78
Australian Greens 4,148,615.11
National Party of Australia 3,076,663.58
Pauline's United Australia Party 202,440.72
Northern Territory Country Liberal Party 160 719.91
Family First Party 133 965.51
Nick Xenophon (Senate, South Australia) 296,627.70
Tony Windsor (New England) 105,217.86
Bob Katter (Kennedy) 64,919.66
Gavin Priestley (Calare) 37,979.71
Tim Horan (Parkes) 34,114.90
Caroline Hutchinson (Fisher) 21,141.74
Gavan O'Connor (Corio) 21,010.05
Noel Brunning (Forrest) 19,800.93
Aaron Buman (Newcastle) 12,655.91
Ben Quin (Lyons) 12,155.10
Cate Molloy (Wide Bay) 11,125.55
Ray McGhee (Boothby) 8 759.18
Rob Bryant (Murray) 8,727.25
Tim Williams (Macquarie) 8,270.34
Jamie Harrison (Lyne) 6,636.23
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
"It's an opportunity for conservatives in opposition to make sure they represent us honestly."
Reading between the lines, one could easily arrive at the conclusion that Gulaptis thought that when the Coalition was in government its representation was something less than honest.
Quite honestly, that's rather easy to believe. Just look at the bundles of tripe the Howard government, and especially a number of its infamous ministers, served up for public consumption.
The Daily Examiner's report on the declaration of the poll is at:
However, this move might help the few lucky families eventually involved but it does little to solve the home affordability issue which has crept out of the large metropolitan areas and is now making home ownership a distant dream for many in low-income areas on the NSW North Coast.
Lismore City Council has also recently approved a homeless shelter in the district.
With private rental costs steadily rising it is time for the Rudd Government to reassess the state of public housing across the nation and move, in partnership with the States, to rebuild these housing stocks to a level which reflects actual need on the ground.
Quixotic gestures make us feel good, but serious and widespread effort is required if Kevin Rudd is to live up to his election campaign rhetoric.
Of course it's early days yet and in rural and regional Australia many hope that 2008 will see a commitment to address public housing shortfalls.
The Northern Rivers Echo last Thursday:
One of the saddest outcomes of this election has been the demise of the Democrats.
They will be sorely missed on Senate committees.
November 24 delivered us the same old two-horse race in the upper house, with minor parties and independents holding the balance of power.
A list of senators announced as elected so far (final AEC list should be out later today):
Nick Sherry (ALP)
Richard Colbeck (Lib)
Bob Brown (Greens)
Carol Brown (ALP)
David Bushby (Lib)
Catryna Bilyk (ALP)
Don Farrell (ALP)
Cory Bernardi (Lib)
Nick Xenophon (IND)
Penny Wong (ALP)
Simon Birmingham (Lib)
Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens)
Ian Douglas MacDonald (Lib)
John Joseph Hogg (ALP)
Sue Boyce (Lib)
Claire Moore (ALP)
Ron Boswell (Nationals)
Mark Furner (ALP)
Kate Lundy (ALP)
Gary Humphries (Lib)
Monday, 17 December 2007
The potential losers include some in the business community. They got preferential treatment from the Howard government in various ways, including the industrial relations reforms, and are now nervous about their future. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry was recognised as the business lobby group closest to the former government. Not surprisingly its chief executive, Peter Hendy, has been under internal pressure since the election to justify his position.
The National Farmers' Federation has also been retreating from its pre-election advocacy. Some of its campaign advertising, though not all, was pro-government and anti-Labor. This was a calculated risk. Since the election, the federation has tried to deny that this was the case."
The Canberra Times last Thursday:
Of course all these lobbyists and special interest groups will retain access to the Federal Government. However it would be nice to see these rabid little neo-cons fall to the back of the queue for a while at least. A smidgen of poetic justice wouldn't go astray right now.
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Sunday, 16 December 2007
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Horin takes a look at how welfare cheats and tax cheats are treated in Australia.
Welfare cheats are soft targets so they get a hammering but tax cheats, who are a protected species, get easy runs home.
In part, Horin wrote:
If tax cheats were hounded as assiduously as welfare cheats, Australia would be better off. But under the old regime, welfare cheats - so-called - were pursued to the ends of the Earth while tax cheats slid under the radar.
Millions of dollars were poured into detecting welfare fraud while in the last years of the Howard government one-third as much was spent tracking down tax cheats, according to budget papers.
The inequity led Professor John Braithwaite, of the Australian National University, an expert on corporate crime, to remark last year that the DPP had taken "soft, easy cases and they are the frauds of poor people. The frauds of sophisticated rich people who are aggressively defended by the best lawyers money can buy deliver lower success rates [to the DPP]."
The government stood to recoup far more from tax cheats than from welfare cheats. On economic grounds alone, it should have ramped up the fight against tax avoiders. According to budget papers, for every dollar spent chasing tax avoiders, the government would recoup $7.53 compared with only $1.94 from the welfare fraudsters. In the end, fewer than 3500 people are convicted of welfare fraud in a year from a population of 6.5 million social security recipients.
Read the entire article "Tax dodgers laughing as the poor are hounded" at:
Unfortunately, Horin didn't include superannuation cheats in her article. Although they didn't get a mention, superannuation cheats are out there in big numbers.
So, you ask, "Who are the superannuation cheats?"
Answer: These cheats are thieving employers who do not make the mandatory super contributions for their employees.
"Who's responsible for ensuring employers do the right thing and meet their responsibilities and pay their employees' super?"
Answer: The Australian Taxation Office.
"If the ATO doesn't address the issue of tax cheats properly how can it be expected to address the problem of super cheats?"
Answer: To use the words of Horin, "more hounding, and more tabloid headlines, would not go astray."
Memo to all employees - contact your super fund and check to see that your employer has paid your super in full. Unfortunately, many employees are being dudded every pay period. Their pay slips show how much super should be going to their fund BUT their employers are pocketing it for themselves.
Friday, 14 December 2007
Whatever Chris said, it wasn't worth a cracker.
Continuing Federal Liberal leadership speculation indicates the blame game is not about to end anytime soon.
The Age article today:
Here is an short honour role of the principal blame gamers.
Christopher Pyne and Nick Minchin: