Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Australia - where the rich get richer as wealth & income inequality grows (interactive mapping)


The Guardian, 12 October 2017

Australia is among countries with the highest growth in income inequality in the world over the past 30 years, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Vitor Gaspar, the IMF’s director of fiscal affairs, has told an audience at the launch of the IMF’s latest Fiscal Monitor that Australia’s income inequality growth has been similar to the US, South Africa, India, China, Spain and the UK since the 1980s.

Last month the treasurer, Scott Morrison, said that income inequality was not getting worse in Australia.

Morrison told the Business Council of Australia in late September that Treasury and the Reserve Bank had found, in specific analysis of current wage fundamentals, that Australian wages were growing slowly across most industries in the economy, and most regions of the country, so the slow growth was evenly shared.

However, he would not release the Treasury analysis.

Graph showing inequality by country by the IMF. Illustration: IMF

Gaspar said IMF staff had used the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s income distribution database, Eurostat, and the World Bank’s Povcalnet data, among other sources, to calculate that income inequality had increased in nearly half of the world’s countries in the past three decades, and Australia had experienced a “large increase” in that time.

“Most people around the world live in countries where inequality has increased,” he said.

The IMF’s latest Fiscal Monitor, released overnight, is dedicated to the global growth in income inequality. It warns that while some inequality is inevitable in a market-based economic system as a result of “differences in talent, effort, and luck”, excessive inequality could “erode social cohesion, lead to political polarisation, and ultimately lower economic growth”. 

It also warns that income inequality tends to be “highly correlated” with wealth inequality, inequality of opportunity, and gender inequality……

Earlier this year, the OECD economic survey of Australia in April found “inclusiveness has been eroded” in the past two decades.

“The Gini coefficient has been drifting up and households in upper-income brackets have benefited disproportionally from Australia’s long period of economic growth,” the report said.

“Real incomes for the top quintile of households grew by more than 40% between 2004 and 2014, while those for the lowest quintile only grew by about 25%.”

In July the Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, when asked about his views on inequality at a charity lunch in Sydney, said it had grown “quite a lot” in the 1980s and 1990s and had risen “a little bit” recently, but it was important to make a distinction between income and wealth inequality.

“Wealth inequality has become more pronounced particularly in the last five or six years because there’s been big gains in asset prices,” Lowe said. “So the people who own assets, which are usually wealthy people, have seen their wealth go up.”

He said income inequality had increased slightly in recent years, but wealth inequality was more pronounced because of rising asset prices.

So how do individual regions across Australia fare?

The Guardian on 4 February 2016 published this Australia-wide interactive graphic:



Income Distribution in NSW Northern Rivers Region (based on Australian Taxation Office data for 2012-13)

Byron – top 10%  of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 38.5% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.544

Kyogle – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 33.9% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.554

Ballina – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 33.2% of income – Gini coefficient 0.495

Tweed – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 31.7% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.473

Clarence Valley – top 10%  of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 31.1% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.493

Lismore – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 29.7% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.459

Richmond Valley – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 28.1% of total income  – Gini coefficient 0.448

*  Some low income earners, eg. those receiving Government pensions/allowances or earning below the tax free threshold may not be present in the data, as they may not be required to lodge personal tax forms. [Australian Bureau of Statistics, Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, Total Income, 2012-13]

Australian Human Rights Commission does not support expansion of the Cashless Debit Card Trial


Excerpts from Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs Senate Inquiry into Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017:

Human rights concerns
As a form of income management, the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 raises a number of human rights concerns, specifically around the right to social security, the right to a private life and the right to equality and non-discrimination. [my yellow highlighting]
The Commission has previously reported its concerns about the cashless debit card (also known as the Healthy Welfare Card) in our submission to the Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015 and in the Social Justice and Native Title reports for 2015 and 2016. 2
The Commission has particularly been concerned about the effects of these income management measures in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whom we have previously identified to be a group that are disproportionately impacted by such measures.3 As at September 2016, 75% of trial participants in Ceduna and 82% of trial participants in the East Kimberley were Indigenous.4
Whilst the Explanatory Memorandum acknowledges that trials of the cashless debit card are already underway in areas with high Indigenous populations, it proposes that future sites will give priority to locations with lower proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.5
The Commission remains concerned that the measures will continue to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, not just in the existing locations of the East Kimberley and Ceduna where Indigenous populations are high, but also in future locations.
This is the case because the measures proposed in the Bill target a section of the population who are receiving income support payments.
Hence, whilst the measures may not directly target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their practical effect will unduly impact upon them, as government pensions and allowances are a main source of income for approximately 46.9% of this group.6
There are therefore concerns about whether the measures are inconsistent with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and guarantee Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples equality before the law.
The Commission considers that the measures are not proportionate to the benefits sought by the Bill because their purpose could be achieved through other, less restrictive means and emphasises what it considers to be the preferred features of a system of income management:
* an approach that enables participants to voluntarily opt-in, rather than an automatic quarantining model (which then relies upon individual applications for exemptions)
* an approach that utilises income management as a ‘last resort’, particularly for targeted risk areas such as child protection (that is supported by case management and support services), similar to the Family Responsibilities Commission model in Queensland
* measures that are applied for a defined period and in a manner proportionate to the context.7
The Commission does not accept the arguments in the Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights that the measures justifiably limit the right to social security, privacy and non-discrimination and equality in pursuit of the objectives of Part 3D of the Act.8
As non-voluntary measures, they are applied to all income support recipients of working age in the trial areas,9 including those who do not have any issues with drugs, alcohol or gambling.
For the reasons outlined above and in the Commission’s previous submissions, the Commission does not agree with the assessment that the Bill or existing cashless debit card measures are compatible with human rights standards.10……
It is difficult to attribute the reported positive effects to the current trials as distinct from other factors such as increased support services, and other policy interventions.15 This is further exacerbated by the self-reporting nature of the report’s findings, which the evaluation itself states should be interpreted with caution and are subject to desirability bias.16
However, it is important to consider that where people have experienced modest benefits as a result of income management, when compared to its stated objectives,17 that these need to be weighed against its significant drawbacks.
The Commission does not accept that it is appropriate to extend these measures to additional sites in order to “build on these positive findings, and offer an opportunity to continue to test the card’s effectiveness in different settings and on a larger scale”.18 There is limited evidence to demonstrate that previous income management efforts have been effective and this is confirmed by the findings from the Orima report.
The Commission is therefore of the view that these measures unjustifiably impinge on the rights of trial participants, for little substantive benefit…..
Conclusion
Human rights protections are inadequately addressed in the Bill, the Explanatory Memorandum and in the Statement of Compatibility. The Commission is particularly concerned about the non-voluntary nature of the measures, and the disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and those income support recipients who do not have drug, alcohol or gambling concerns.  [my yellow highlighting]
The Commission is of the view that income management measures which are imposed and not community-driven lack efficacy.
The Commission is of the view that less intrusive measures aimed at changing behaviour rather than limiting access to and use of income will be more effective. It is for this reason that the Commission welcomes the investment of support services into these communities, but hopes that the appropriateness and level of engagement with such services improves.19
In light of these views, the Commission does not support the expansion of these measures as outlined in the Bill.
_______________________________________________________________________
2 Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015, 6 October 2015, At http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=14a9925c-245c-4a2e-9bfa-eeb6c843e505&subId=403485; Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016, 88-97, At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/AHRC_SJNTR_2016.pdf; Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice and Native Title Report 2015, 55-58, At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/SJRNTR2015.pdf.
3 Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015, 6 October 2015, 5.
4 Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016, 91-92. See also Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’ (Department of Social Services, 2017), 38, showing similar proportions as at June 2017.
5 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 4, 7. 
7 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission No 76 to Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of Racial Discrimination Act Bill 2009 and other Bills (10 February 2010), 26.
8 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 7-8.
9 Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’, (Department of Social Services, 2017) 3.
10 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 8. 
16 Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’, (Department of Social Services, 2017) 118.
17 Department of Social Services, Guide to Social Security Law [11.1.1.30] http://guides.dss.gov.au/guide-social-security-law/11/1/1/30
18 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 3.
19 According to the Orima report, only 19% of those surveyed indicated that they used the drug and alcohol support services provided. Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’, (Department of Social Services, 2017) 8. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Question Time in the Australian House of Representatives reveals the arbitrary nature and downright absurdity of the National Broadband Network rollout


In Australia where the dead have better Internet access than the living……

Hansard, 16 October 2017:

Ms McBRIDE (Dobell) (14:53): My question is to the Prime Minister. We are now in the fifth year of this Prime Minister's mismanagement of the NBN. Is the Prime Minister aware that students at the Central Coast Rudolf Steiner School in Fountaindale can't connect to the NBN, even though Fountaindale has supposedly had the NBN since September last year? What sort of incompetence means that the cemetery behind the school has an NBN connection but the school doesn't? [my yellow highlighting]

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:54): I thank the honourable member for her question. I'm certainly happy, if she's able to raise the specific customer's details with me, to make sure it goes to the minister and to NBN Co. What I can say, if honourable members care to pay attention to the NBN's weekly rollout report, which I do—an example of transparency on the part of my government which had no counterpart under the Labor Party, I might say—is that every week the numbers go up, and there are currently over six million premises that are able to connect, and just under three million have services that are connected. So the rollout is going at great pace, and I'm sure the matter that the honourable member has raised will be able to be dealt with.

This is how Nationals MP for Dawson is using your tax dollars


Almost every person is Australia pays some form of taxation, even if payment is confined to the Goods & Services Tax (GST).

These taxes can result in a little or a lot of dollars ending up in government coffers rather than finding a home in the household kitty .

So I’m sure readers in the Northern Rivers region where household incomes are on the lower end of the national scale will be really impressed with the fact that yet another Turnbull Government MP is spending taxpayer dollars on publicly attacking the Australian Broadcasting Commission – this time in defence of a foreign multinational of dubious repute.

I give you George Robert Christensen, former local government councillor, former journalist/newspaper editor and current Chair of the Joint Committee On Publications…….


5 OCTOBER 2017: I am publishing (in North Queensland newspapers) an open letter to the Head of Current Affairs at the ABC. Monday’s attack on jobs with a program called “Digging into Adani” demonstrated beyond doubt the national broadcaster is overly influenced by the extreme green movement. On behalf of North Queensland families desperate for jobs, I have demanded the ABC provide balance with another story focusing on the Townsville, Bowen and Mackay communities relying on the Carmichael Coal Project going ahead.

The program avoided facts, preferring the green movement’s stock-in-trade: allegations, accusations, and unsubstantiated claims. But no matter how many activists the ABC turns to for comment, repeating the same misinformation does not turn it into fact.

Monday’s episode relied almost exclusively on commentary from other journalists and green activists, including the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, which is funded by big (green left) money from the United States, including the Rockefellers. Their stated mission is “to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy and to reduce dependence on coal and other non-renewable energy resources”.

Even lightly scratching the surface of the experts and organisations reveals strong links with the green movement and funding from other activist organisations such as Greenpeace. The lack of credible sources and repetition of the same old allegations, many of which are demonstrably false, indicate a disregard for objectivity. Monday’s episode contained nothing new of any substance, just a continuation of the ABC’s sustained attack on Adani, whose Carmichael Coal Project, when complete, will represent only 17 per cent of Queensland’s coal production.

By allowing itself to become a mouthpiece for green extremists, the ABC has distanced itself from the regional audience, who fund the broadcaster with their taxes. Regional-based journalists continue to engage with their local community but they are increasingly at odds with the Sydney-centric national programs.  The national broadcaster still has an important role to play in regional and remote areas where options are limited. However, the Four Corners story is a clear example of capital city media elites talking amongst themselves and demonstrating a disdain for anyone outside their circle.

High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns ends federal parliamentarians eligibility to stand hearings and considers its judgment


“The Court reserves its decisions in these matters. It is hardly necessary to say that the Court is aware of the need to give its answers to these references with or without reasons as soon as possible. As counsel and instructing solicitors would appreciate, it is not always possible for the Court to do so immediately. No doubt, they will explain this to their clients.”  [Chief Justice of Australia Susan Mary Kiefel AC, 12 October 2017]

On 10-12 October 2017 the full High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns heard arguments as to why five members and two former members of the Parliament of Australia should or shouldn’t be found to have been ineligible to stand for election prior to the 2016 general election and sit as an elected members thereafter.

While the country waits on the resolution of this matter, here are links to relevant documents and transcripts.

High Court of Australia Justices

KIEFEL CJ
BELL J
GAGELER J
KEANE J
NETTLE J
GORDON J
EDELMAN
J

Notices

High Court of Australia Transcripts






Self-styled “bounty hunter” issues penalty writs


David Barrow at http://andrewboltparty.com:

On 27 September 2017, I sued 6 current and former Senators and Mr Barnaby Joyce MP under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth).

This provides a bounty for citizens ‘hunting down’ any Parliamentarian who has sat when disqualified.

$200 is paid for proving the Parliamentarian is caught out during the 12 months before being served with a lawsuit; and $200 is paid for every subsequent day on which he or she sat.

Any penalties I receive and personal tax benefit, I will donate to the The Fred Hollows Foundation…..

Monday, 16 October 2017

Destroy the Joint turned 5 this month

Update on the proposed 140 lot community title residential subdivision in Hickey Street, Iluka, NSW


Hickey Street and environs in Iluka at the mouth of the Clarence River

The proposed 140 lot community title residential subdivision in Hickey Street, Iluka, NSW was declared a controlled action on 6 October 2017 and, as such, requires assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and ministerial approval before it can proceed.

According to Australian Government Dept. of  Environment and Energy the relevant controlling provisions are:

World Heritage properties (sections 12 & 15A)
National Heritage places (sections 15B & 15C)
Listed threatened species and communities (sections 18 & 18A)

There are five levels of controlled action assessment provided under the Act and the development proposal assessment for this subdivision will be by preliminary documentation, due to it being considered a proposal where the impacts are localised, easily predicted or where the impacts have already been adequately assessed under other legislation.

It is the responsibility of the development applicant, Stevens Holdings Pty Limited, to prepare documentation to support the assessment process.

Preliminary documentation assessment is one of the four levels requiring a public comment phase as part of the process. The availability of assessment documentation for public comment will be advertised in the relevant press and on the Department's website.

Just in case you missed it: civilian deaths in Mosul


Crikey.com.au, 2 October 2017

The Australian Defence Force revealed on Friday its troops had been involved in incidents in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that are believed to have resulted in the deaths of eight civilians, including two children. The first incident was in March this year. An aircraft that was part of the coalition forces (that include Australia, the US, the UK and others) bombed a residential building in Mosul, which resulted in the deaths of seven civilians. Australian aircraft weren’t involved, but a member of the ADF was part of the “decision making chain” that authorised the strike, which was targeting Islamic State forces thought to be 300 metres from Iraqi forces. In an incident in June, Australian hornet aircraft were called to assist Iraqi forces, with a strike on a residential building. 

“They [the Iraqi forces] found themselves within 20 metres of a building in which Daesh fighters were,” Vice Admiral David Johnston told the media.

“They were engaged by small arms fire and were pinned down, unable to move.

“We had a pair of hornets that were airborne at the time … they performed a strike, it was a single precision guided weapon, a low-collateral weapon.”

It is believed a child was killed in that incident.

This was covered on the front page of The Age (after an AFL wrap-around of 20 pages) and the The Australian — we’re not in any way suggesting journos weren’t doing their jobs. But issues like this don’t stick in the minds of the public when there’s footy to watch and barbecues to attend. The report was embargoed until midnight on Saturday. It’s also possible the announcement, while coming months after the actual incidents, was timed to coincide with an announcement from the US’ Combined Joint Task Force, which detailed investigations of civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Quote of the Month


“Tony Abbott said to me, ‘You know, I went to a Catholic school as a kid but no one did anything to me. Maybe I wasn’t good-looking enough.’ I’m sat there, like, ‘Is he kidding? Is he making light of this issue?’” [Australian actor Chris Hemsworth quoted in GQ Australia, 4 October 2017]

Sacked former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott was in London this month and 'Daring to Doubt'


"Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods, we are more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect"Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott, 9 October 2017

On 9 October 2017 a former Australian prime minister sacked by his party before he had completed one term in office was speaking at a Global Warming Policy Foundation event held at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.

It appears that Tony Abbott made sure that no journalist from the Australian Broadcasting Commission was present to hear his anti-climate change lecture, “Daring to Doubt”.

One could understand his motive – after none of the venue rooms available can seat more than 210 persons.

Such a small number is hardly a good reason to sock Australian taxpayers for costs associated with this annual lecture – which on past behaviour he is highly likely to attempt.

In the last calendar year Abbott spent $29,444.13 on overseas travel as a backbencher without any additional parliamentary responsibility. He was reimbursed this money by the Dept. of Finance.

Readers should click on the link to the transcript of his ‘lecture’ and enjoy the irony of him of all people telling the British:

“In Australia, we’ve had ten years of disappointing government. It’s not just the churn of prime ministers that now rivals Italy’s, the internal divisions and the policy confusion that followed a quarter century of strong government under Bob Hawke and John Howard. It’s the institutional malaise. We have the world’s most powerful upper house: a Senate where good government can almost never secure a majority. Our businesses campaign for same sex marriage but not for economic reform. Our biggest company, BHP, the world’s premier miner, lives off the coal industry that it now wants to disown. And our oldest university, Sydney, now boasts that its mission is “unlearning”.”

In the face of the growing threat of climate change sometimes Australian politicians leave me speechless


The Guardian, 9 October 2017:

The New South Wales government will introduce legislation to approve an underground coalmine that was blocked by the courts because it was polluting Sydney’s drinking water.

On Monday the state’s energy minister, Don Harwin, announced the government would overturn a decision by the NSW court of appeal to block the extension of the Springvale colliery.

The mine, owned by Centennial Coal, is the sole supplier to Lithgow’s Mount Piper power station, which provides about 10% of NSW’s electricity.

On Monday Harwin said the mine was “vital for energy security and affordability”.

“My top priority as energy minister is to ensure NSW households and business have an affordable, secure and reliable energy supply – this decision supports that,” he said.

The legislation, which is expected to be introduced to the parliament this week, will change the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to “clarify” that “projects in the Sydney water catchment seeking to expand must maintain or improve water quality compared to their existing consent”.

It will also specifically validate the Springvale mine’s state significant development consent.

The government’s planning minister, Anthony Roberts, said the legislation would “support the construction of a water treatment plant” which he said would eliminate saline discharges.

“This new treatment plant will see zero mine water discharge into the Coxs river, is supported by the EPA and WaterNSW and has separately been approved by the independent Planning Assessment Commission,” he said.

In August the court of appeal determined that the mine was polluting Sydney’s drinking water and therefore operating on an invalid licence.

After a challenge by environment group 4nature, the court found the commission had erred in approving the licence because it involved discharging polluted water into Sydney’s drinking catchment.

The approval involved saline mine water being discharged into the Coxs river, which flows into Lake Burragorang, Sydney’s major drinking-water reservoir.

Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Donald Thomas HARWIN, BEc(Hons) MLC parliamentary bio.

Liberal Member for Lane Cove, Minister for Planning, Minister for Housing, and Special Minister of State, Leader of the House, Anthony John ROBERTS, MA (Comms) MP parliamentary bio.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Political Tweets of the Week




Quotes of the Week


”Homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW in 1984. The first state or territory to take homosexuality out of the criminal code was South Australia in 1975 and the last was Tasmania in 1997.” [Julie McCrossin writing on ABC News, 23 September 2017]

“There are around 3,000 reported snakebites each year in Australia, resulting in 500 hospital admissions and an average of two fatalities.” [The Flying Doctor Service, 5 October 2017]

“In the first few months of 2017, more than 440,000 Australians have donated to a GoFundMe, demonstrating the staggering increase of people engaging with social fundraising across the country.”  [The Northern Star, 3 October 2017]

Friday, 13 October 2017

WAKE UP, PRIME MINISTER! A Frustrated Voter Calls on the Australian PM to Redeem Himself


Tony Abbott, in speaking arrant nonsense in the speech he delivered to a collection of climate deniers in the UK recently, has given you a great chance to redeem yourself in relation to climate change action and energy policy.  Abbott has shown how idiotic he is and how indifferent he is to the national interest as well as being totally inconsistent with much of what he espoused when he was Prime Minister.  So why do you keep kowtowing to his silliness and the silliness of his mates?  Why are you reluctant to adopt a clean energy target as recommended by the Chief Scientist? 

You’ve kowtowed to Abbott and his cronies incessantly for months and months – and it’s got you ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE.  They are not going to let up on you – and you’ve lost an enormous amount of public goodwill by your craven behaviour.

It’s time that you took charge and rejected the idiocy of the Liberal and National dinosaurs who want to prevent any more movement towards renewables.  How many of these Abbott-loving clowns are there anyway?  Surely the majority of the Liberal members (If not the Nationals - who are another matter entirely) want to have a bipartisan agreement on climate and energy.  Surely the sensible members of the Government want to give the community and business certainty about the way forward. And surely the more reasonable members of your Government can see that it is IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST TO SECURE A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON THESE IMPORTANT MATTERS.  That is really the only way forward – and it’s what the majority of the community and business want.

If you get a bipartisan agreement with the opposition, it surely won’t matter if Abbott and his dinosaur cronies cross the floor. 

Another matter you should be considering (as I imagine you would be as a politician and a PM in deep trouble) is how history will see you as a leader and your term as PM.  Currently it’s not looking good.

Wake up, Prime Minister, and redeem yourself!

Climateer
NSW North Coast


GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT gmail.com.au for consideration. Longer posts will be considered on topical subjects.

File this one under 'Who's guarding the guards?'


The politicians forming Australian state and federal governments assure us they are upright, ethical people with histories as pure as the driven snow. They tell us their advisors are trustworthy beyond doubt and their senior public service appointees & finance/security consultants ditto. While their big business mates like Gina, Twiggy and Co are genuinely true blue and philanthropic.

Yet, as step by step these same politicians lead us towards authoritarian governance and Big Brother mass surveillance, their feet of clay can’t help but show.

North Coast Voices readers may remember that SMEC Holdings Limited (now SMEC and Surbana Juronghas been a favourite of Malcolm Turnbull's since he was the Minister for the Environment and Water Resouces in the Howard Government ministry.

This company provided an error-ridden desktop study for Turnbull supporting damming and diverting water from NSW North Coast river systems, with a preference for visiting this environmental vandalism on the Clarence River system.

It is now allegedly a corrupt multinational corpration.

The Age, 4 October 2017:

An arm of the company tasked with advising the Turnbull government on its signature infrastructure project, Snowy Hydro 2.0, has been banned by the World Bank for alleged bribery and corruption, prompting further calls for a federal anti-corruption watchdog……

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull poses for a photo during his announcement of Snowy Hydro 2.0 in March.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Engineering company SMEC had five of its subsidiaries banned by the World Bank last week after an investigation into "inappropriate payments" linked to projects in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 

SMEC was chosen to undertake the $29 million feasibility study back in May and the work is due to be finished by the end of the year. The firm was selected by the state and federal government-owned Snowy Hydro corporation, which runs the current power plant.

Last year, Fairfax Media revealed the details of some of the allegations around improper payments involving SMEC, including allegedly corrupt dealings between the firm and Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena when he was a cabinet minister in 2009.

Those dealings and others are still under investigation by the federal police.

This is one wealthy individual audited by the Australian Taxation Office - venture capitalist and independent consultant to business & government for over twelve years, Anthony ‘Tony’ Castagna.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October 2017:

Anthony Castagna's company helps protect the cyber secrets and detect financial crimes within the world's most powerful institutions, including the Serious Fraud Office in Britain, US Homeland Security, the Australian defence force, ASIC, even the Office of the President of the US.

Now the Sydney-based co-founder and chairman of Nuix, majority owned by Macquarie Bank, faces a potential 20-year jail term after being charged with tax evasion and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Dr Castagna, 70, has been the target of two of Nuix's major clients: the Australian Federal police and the Australian Tax Office through Project Wickenby, their long-running tax probe.

The charges relate to payments from Macquarie Bank which were allegedly channelled into offshore companies controlled by his cousin Robert Agius, who was sentenced to a non-parole period of 6 years and 8 months' jail in 2012 for operating unrelated tax avoidance schemes via his Vanuatu-based accountancy firm.

In addition to Dr Castagna's criminal charges, the ATO is pursuing him for unpaid taxes and penalties in excess of $10 million.

For decades, the tech guru has been a rainmaker for Macquarie Bank. The bank has ploughed millions of dollars into his cyber security and forensic services company Nuix. A totally owned Macquarie Group subsidiary owns more than 70 per cent of Nuix and over the last year Macquarie advisors have been talking up a billion-dollar float of Nuix on the Australian stock exchange....

Dr Castagna, who denies any wrongdoing and is vigorously defending the charges....

Donald J. Trump: “Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!”


No matter how hard he tries US President Donald Trump just can't keep the Russia issue behind closed doors.

It keeps seeping out into the public domain via mainstream and social media.

Reuters, 5 October 2017:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The special counsel investigating whether Russia tried to sway the 2016 U.S. election has taken over FBI inquiries into a former British spy's dossier of allegations of Russian financial and personal links to President Donald Trump's campaign and associates, sources familiar with the inquiry told Reuters.

A report compiled by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele identified Russian businessmen and others whom U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded are Russian intelligence officers or working on behalf of the Russian government.

A spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller declined comment. The FBI also declined comment.

Three sources with knowledge of Mueller's probe said his investigators have assumed control of multiple inquiries into allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election to benefit Trump, a Republican.

Russia has repeatedly denied any meddling in the election.

Two officials familiar with the investigations said that both Mueller's team and the Senate Intelligence Committee are seeking any evidence that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort or others who had financial dealings with Russia might have helped Kremlin intelligence agencies target email hacking and social media postings undermining Trump's election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

On Wednesday, the Senate panel's chairman Richard Burr told reporters that the issue of whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia remains an open question.

Prof. Seth Abramson, University of New Hampshire, 4 October 2017:
Trump's response is typical……

MEDIA MATTERS for America, 5 October 2017:


President Donald Trump urged Congress to begin investigations into the U.S. media, which he baselessly claimed was fabricating stories in order to damage his presidency, in a Thursday morning tweet with authoritarian overtones.

"Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!," the president tweeted just before 7 a.m. EST.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!

 28,38728,387 Replies  12,30112,301 Retweets 48,15748,157 likes

Trump's tweet came the morning after the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- which has been investigating what U.S. intelligence agencies have determined was a Russian propaganda effort aimed at disrupting the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor --confirmed those conclusions and warned that the Kremlin's effort to influence U.S. elections is ongoing. At a news conference detailing the progress of their investigation, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the committee's chairman, said that the issue of whether Trump's associates had colluded with Russia "is still open."

Trump has long been defensive about the question of whether Russia aided his election, and has termed the special counsel's investigation into whether his associates participated in that effort a "witch hunt." And his constant attempts to undermine and delegitimize the press are one of the rare throughlines in his chaotic administration. Critics have noted that this effort parallels those made by authoritarian leaders…..

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Deaths caused by Australian immigration policies in 2017


Monash University, Border Crossing Observatory:

The Australian Border Deaths Database maintains a record of all known deaths associated with Australia’s borders since 1 January 2000.
The database was begun by Professor Sharon Pickering and Associate Professor Leanne Weber as part of BOb’s Deaths at the Global Frontier project, culminating in the publication of the book Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier in 2011.
The Border Crossing Observatory continues to periodically update The Australian Border Deaths Database in line with the methodology detailed in Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier
The most recent version records deaths at the Australian frontier for the period 1 January 2000 – August 2017, with a recorded 1,995+ border deaths. [my yellow bolding]

Deaths in 2017 to date:

8-Mar-17 New Zealander, male - suspected suicide by hanging in Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre.

7-June-17 Matthew Taylor, New Zealander, male - committed suicide in New Zealand, a year and a half after his deportation under s501 of the Migration Act. He was in a desperate situation in New Zealand with limited support and ties to the country following his return. He moved to Australia with his family as a toddler and had never left Sydney until his deportation following his prison sentence for a string of minor offences. He has a young child in Sydney and his immediate family still live there.

3-July-17 (week beginning) Majid Hassanloo (brother of Saeed Hasanloo), 39 years old, Iranian, male - found dead in the house he was minding in Sydney from a suspected drug overdose. Majid was released from detention in December 2015 but was not offered adequate support. His psychological deterioration was profound.

7-Aug-17 Hamed Shamshiripour, 31 years old, Iranian, male - found dead in the forest near the Australian-run East Lorengau refugee transit centre on Manus Island. Suspected suicide.