Monday, April 27, 2015
Blue-eyed Australian medic who appears in doctor's scrubs in latest ISIS video is a Muslim
His actions show the power of Islam to fry the brain. Religion can be very influential and when the religion preaches hate, the result can be very deplorable. The way he travelled from one job to another in Australia does suggest a restless soul. From his name he seems most likely to be of Egyptian origin
It has been revealed the blue-eyed, Australian doctor who's been hailed the 'new face' of the latest Islamic State propaganda videos was reportedly a 'womaniser' who was thought to be a 'pretty normal guy'.
In ISIS's most recent video, a young doctor, identified as Tareq Kamleh, called on foreign medics to travel to the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa to help launch the ISHS (the Islamic State Health Service).
The video of Kamleh, who refers to himself as Abu Yusuf, showed him handling babies in a maternity ward while wearing western-style blue surgical scrubs and a stethoscope.
Once the propaganda video went viral, people from Kamleh's past started to recognise the previously unidentified doctor.
It was revealed Kamleh, who is believed to be in his late 20's, completed his medical degree at Adelaide University.
Upon completing his degree he reportedly worked as a paediatric registrar at the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital until 2013.
Kamleh then moved to north Queensland where he worked at Mackay Base Hospital, the Age reported.
He completed his final stint in the Australian medical system working in Perth until late 2014.
A university student who knew Kamleh, but did not want to be named, said he showed no signs that he would defect to the radical militant group. 'He was a pretty normal guy, he didn't have any IS related interests,' she told news.com.au. She said the 'clean cut' doctor was well known in her social circle as a 'womaniser' who didn't shy away from drinking alcohol.
Kamleh was also recognised by Dr Stephen Napoli, co-owner of the Mannum Medical Centre in South Australia. He told the Age the 'intelligent' doctor had interned with him for 10 weeks back in 2010. 'As a doctor he worked quite well; he was quite intelligent, he presented to our practice as quite a sound doctor with good medical knowledge,' Dr Napoli said.
Dr Napoli agreed that Kamleh had shown no signs of holding extreme Islamic views. 'There was no indication I'd be worried about his other associations when he was with us.
'There was nothing that I saw of his work as a medical practical that would suggest he would have any of these sorts of views.'
A former college from Adelaide Hospital also came forward reporting that he recognised Kamleh in the footage immediately.
'I was taken aback as much because I certain certainly wouldn't have associated him with an association like IS. His principles seemed to be sound and focused on the care of his patients,' he told the Age.
The collegue, who also chose not to be identified, said Kamleh's behaviours were not consistent with the Islamic State's conservative views on drinking or dating. 'I know he dated a few nurses and other doctors over the years… he was heterosexual and certainly interested in the ladies, with some success.'
He claims to be sad he delayed travelling to Syria for so long.
'It is disappointing to think how many fellow Muslims brothers and sisters in the medical field, who are doctors and nurses, physios, who are still living in the West and unfortunately the Muslims living here are suffering, not necessary from a lack of equipment or medicine but a mainly a lack of qualified medical care.'
Yusuf urges foreign Muslims with medical training to come forward and join the latest caliphate initiative. 'We really need your help. It is not the equipment that we are lacking, it is truly just the staff. Inshallah see you soon.'
SBS presenter Scott McIntyre sacked over obnoxious Anzac tweets
That such a far-Leftist had a job at SBS says much about SBS
An SBS presenter has been sacked over a vicious public attack on Australian Diggers in which he implied that Anzacs were rapists and terrorists.
SBS managing director Michael Ebeid labelled the remarks inappropriate and disrespectful, saying they breached the broadcaster’s code of conduct and social media policy. “It’s not tenable to remain on air if your audience doesn’t respect or trust you,” he said.
Soccer reporter Scott McIntyre, who has a Twitter following of 30,000 people, shocked followers with a post which implied that Australians commemorating Anzac Day were “poorly-read ... drinkers and gamblers”.
He began his tirade about 5pm, calling Australia’s involvement in the World Wars an “imperialist invasion of a foreign nation”.
Later tweets read: “Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered.”
“Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan,” said another post.
Followed by: “Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation & their allies in Hiroshima & Nagasaki.”
The tweets sparked outrage from Australian leaders, including Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull who labelled his comments “despicable”. “Difficult to think of more offensive or inappropriate comments,” Mr Turnbull tweeted. “Despicable remarks which deserve to be condemned.”
SBS issued a statement today from its managing director Mr Ebeid and its sport director Ken Shipp that McIntyre had been sacked.
“Late on Anzac Day, sports presenter Scott McIntyre made highly inappropriate and disrespectful comments via his twitter account which have caused his on-air position at SBS to become untenable,” the statement read.
“Mr McIntyre’s actions have breached the SBS Code of Conduct and social media policy and as a result, SBS has taken decisive action to terminate Mr McIntyre’s position at SBS, with immediate effect.
“At SBS, employees on and off air are encouraged to participate in social media, however maintaining the integrity of the network and audience trust is vital. It is unfortunate that on this very important occasion, Mr McIntyre’s comments have compromised both.
“SBS apologises for any offence or harm caused by Mr McIntyre’s comments which in no way reflect the views of the network. SBS supports our Anzacs and has devoted unprecedented resources to coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.”
Parliamentary secretary Steve Ciobo said he pitied McIntyre’s naivety. “This disgraceful fool flaunts he works for SBS,” he tweeted.
Liberal frontbencher Jamie Briggs applauded SBS’s decision, saying the comments went beyond being offensive.
However, the episode has this afternoon ignited a debate over whether McIntyre’s comments were a sackable offence.
Some criticised SBS for firing McIntyre, including journalist Hugh Riminton, who is also a board member of Soldier On, an organisation that supports injured soldiers. Riminton said the tweets were untimely, immature and in one case offensively wrong. “But lest we forget, Our Diggers also died for free speech,” he said.
Human rights commissioner Tim Wilson said McIntyre’s freedom of speech was not being curtailed. “We’re talking about political interpretations of history and that is open for debate,” Mr Wilson said. “And he will be judged very harshly.”
UWA think tank is not a climate consensus centre: Lomborg
Climate action sceptic Bjorn Lomborg says he is surprised by the level of opposition towards a think tank at the University of Western Australia that he says is “not a climate consensus centre”.
Dr Lomborg, a Danish political scientist who has criticised the effectiveness of climate change reduction strategies, says global development issues will be at the heart of academic research at the proposed Australian Consensus Centre, which has received $4 million in federal funds and is due to open at UWA later this year.
Speaking from the US, Dr Lomborg declined to say who he had approached to propose the centre, which will be modelled on the US-based Copenhagen Consensus Centre, which he runs.
“I’m not going to say specifically. I can only do my job if the people that I approach know I’m not going to talk about everything that happens. Fundamentally I made a suggestion to make a project, and the final proposal that we sent from UWA was accepted by the commonwealth.”
Dr Lomborg, who has been invited by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to advise the government on development aid spending, said the centre would examine “where Australia’s $5 billion in aid, and the world’s $US140bn ($180.65bn), spent every year can be spent better. It’s about the 2.5 billion people who are desperately poor and need access to clean water and sanitation.”
Issues such as global warming “are a problem, but only one of many issues we need to fix”.
UWA’s vice-chancellor Paul Johnson told a closed audience of 150 university staff yesterday that Dr Lomborg was not a climate denialist. He said the university had a history of defending its climate change research staff against the most extreme views of climate change deniers.
Academic freedom was at stake, Professor Johnson said: “We should always avoid in universities being forced by pressure to resile from our commitment to academic freedom. “We must be prepared to engage in difficult discussions.”
He said he was not surprised by on-campus hostility. “Anything to do with climate always involves passionate interest,” he said.
The UWA Staff Association and several heads of school have expressed concern about Dr Lomborg’s appointment, saying he was censured by a Danish scientific committee in 2003 for misleading science in his book The Skeptical Environmentalist.
Professor Johnson said that censure motion “was then itself subject to censure by the Danish ministry”.
He said academic work should always be open to peer review to maintain academic standards, “and that will be applied to the Australian Consensus Centre.”
The director of UWA’s Centre for Social Impact, Paul Flatau, who negotiated the centre proposal with the federal government, told the staff meeting he felt there had not been sufficient discussion of the issue.
Professor Johnson told reporters it was not standard for such proposals to go out for broad discussion, or to be put to the university’s academic board.
He said the centre would go ahead with Dr Lomborg’s involvement. “The university has signed a contract with the government.”
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Dr Lomborg was “a deep believer in climate science and the fact of human impact on climate” but had divergent views about how to tackle it.
“The real point why he’s criticised is it doesn’t fit the narrative of those who want to punish people with higher electricity and gas prices,” Mr Hunt told ABC radio.
“He’s saying you can reduce emissions; you just don’t need a massive electricity and gas tax.”
Qld.: Labor’s plan to let union back on to worksites not about safety but about protecting CFMEU
THE Palaszczuk Labor Government is about to make its biggest mistake. It will amend the law to invite the CFMEU, the union described as a criminal organisation, back onto Queensland worksites.
Even certain Cabinet ministers will whisper to you that they know it is the wrong thing to do. Tragically, Annastacia Palaszczuk probably knows it is the wrong thing to do.
But Labor will do it anyway in the full knowledge that the Royal Commission into Union Governance and Corruption found evidence of serious wrongdoing by the CFMEU in this state and around the nation.
The union stands accused of everything from intimidation to blackmail and extortion.
Is it not unreasonable to conclude, therefore, that the Labor Government is inviting Queenslanders to once again be intimidated, blackmailed and extorted?
To invite unions back on to building sites is lunacy.
Yet Treasurer Curtis Pitt gave me a statement confirming CFMEU walk-in powers would be restored. “We’ll rescind the 24-hour notice period in line with our election commitment to restore stronger workplace health and safety standards across Queensland,” he said.
To pin the decision on the safety of workers is hogwash. Companies are adhering to strict safety laws and workplace injuries are declining, Queensland’s independent workplace health and safety regulator says.
The Parliamentary library provided a revealing briefing note to members last year. It read: “Inspectors responded to 57 right-of-entry disputes (between 2011-13). “Most disputes related to entry without prior notice to inquire into a suspected contravention of the Work Health and Safety Act. “Inspectors reported that overall, none of the issues identified were considered to be an imminent risk to workers or others at the workplace.”
No imminent risk was found. Not one. So to suggest there are safety issues is a cynical dupe.
It’s not about safety but about protecting the unsavoury CFMEU which bankrolls Labor and other groups like ETU.
There is ample evidence the unions use bogus safety checks to threaten strikes and disrupt business as part of pay claims and membership drives.
One union official even entered a building site with a portable bank card machine, according to evidence in an unlawful entry case still before the courts in Brisbane.
Companies have a legal obligation to monitor safety and it appears they are doing a fine job in Queensland. Serious injury rates dropped around 20 per cent in the five years from 2008. The reductions came in the high-risk industries of construction, agriculture, manufacturing and transport.
The Premier has already embarrassed herself by appearing in a selfie with a CFMEU official accused of criminality. Now she faces an impossible task convincing the electorate the rescinding of the 24-hour notice period is a safety measure. However Palaszczuk will toe the line because her job depends on it.
As The Courier-Mail reported this week, Palaszczuk’s Parliamentary team is at the mercy of a union club now running the state, in much the same way it is in Victoria.
Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard backed fair work legislation that included the 24-hour notice requirement. Rudd and Gillard both spoke out about union lawlessness and paid the price.
Palaszczuk remains Premier so long as she does the unions’ bidding. That’s the price she has to pay.
Bid to save the Aussie vernacular from US slang
Two best mates from rural Victoria have vowed to keep Aussie lingo alive by making memorabilia that encapsulates the fading vernacular.
Jeff McCubbery, 72, from Mandurang and Ian Bullock, 65, from Blackburn devised the plan for Captain Cootie Cards over twenty years ago in a bid to counter the influx of lingo from overseas.
The pair now has a quirky range of greeting cards, coffee mugs, stubby-holders and calendars – but their hopes of spreading the message were dashed after they were spurned by the companies they pitched their products to.
McCubberry told Daily Mail Australia they designed the idea after meeting on a fishing trip 25 years ago. 'We met at an annual fishing trip, and quickly learned we shared the belief that the language we grew up with was waning.'
'People are dorks not drongos, guys not blokes. We decided to do something to keep the vocabulary afloat,' McCubbery said.
'We decided to consolidate the Australianisms we knew and loved from our upbringings-instead of the Americanisms which have ,' said Ian Bullock.
One illustration depicts weather forecast map with the various Australian climatological zones – the Northern Territory is 'bloody muggy' , Alice Springs is 'dry as a dead dingo's donger', and Victoria is 'cold as a witch's tit'.
Another card shows a fisherman sleeping next to a lake with beer can in hand and the accompanying message: 'flat out like a lizard drinking.'
McCubberry believes the rise of television and the internet has let a torrent of lingo loose from Britain and America that has eclipsed the home grown counterpart.
With McCubberry as designer and Bullock as illustrator, the mates got to work on a range of products that embody down under speech from a bygone time.
But much to their dismay the pair got a rude shock when time came to pitch the product a manufacturers. 'Nobodies interested, said McCubbery. 'They say it's too crude or uncouth. It doesn't make sense because colourful language is a pivotal part of Aussie culture.'
Bullock said they had a deal with a major distributor that fell through before another wholesaler offered them a rather insulting rate to print the cards. 'It was pretty insulting really. It's been a real knock back but we're determined to stick at it.'
The mates plan to launch a website and social media campaign in hopes of finding a distributor to get their products on the market.
'It's just a matter of getting my head around the online thing. We're sticking at it for sure,' said McCubbery.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Prince Charles joins his son Harry and world leaders to mark the 100th anniversary of the disastrous Gallipoli landings which claimed 140,000 lives during World War One
Prince Harry looking every inch the dogged British military man that he is
Prince Charles and his son Harry today joined world leaders to mark the centenary of the catastrophic Gallipoli landings which claimed 140,000 lives during World War One.
The royals met descendants of fallen soldiers on the Royal Navy's flagship HMS Bulwark in Turkey's Dardanelles straits, the same crucial waters the Allies hoped to control 100 years ago.
Instead tens of thousands lost their lives on both sides in a nine-month battle between the German-backed Ottoman forces and Allies including Australian, British and New Zealand troops trying to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war.
Today, soldiers from both the Ottoman and Allied sides lie close together in separate cemeteries on the Gallipoli peninsula on the western edge of Turkey in what has long been seen as a powerful symbol of reconciliation between former enemies.
The Prince of Wales has laid flowers on the graves of British and Irish soldiers who died 100 years ago storming the beaches at the start of the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign.
He was joined by Prince Harry and the President of Ireland Michael Higgins at 'V' Beach, close to the tip of the Turkish Peninsula, at a cemetery which is half the size of a football pitch but contains the bodies of almost 700 men.
In late evening spring sunshine, with birds tweeting and the smell of spring flowers in the air, the poignant visit came as the culmination of a day of remembrance.
Some 87,000 Turks died defending their home soil. The amphibious assault started at dawn on April 25 1915 as wave after wave of British and Irish, French, Australian, New Zealand and Indian troops attacked heavily defended beaches, through barbed wire, and raced up cliffs through scrub.
The Prince gave a speech, praising the heroism and humanity shown by soldiers from both sides a century ago.
He said: 'All those who fought at Gallipoli, whether landing on or defending its shores, hailed from so many different nations and peoples, from an almost infinite variety of backgrounds and walks of life. And, whilst their origins were diverse, they were all thrust into a very different world than they would have ever known or imagined before.
'Indeed, in 1915, both sides were united by challenges that neither could escape - the devastating firepower of modern warfare, the ghastly diseases that added to the death tolls, the devastating summer heat which brought plagues of insects, and in winter, just before the battle ended, the biting cold that many wrote was worse than the shelling itself.'
'It is very poignant and evocative and you can really imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers coming ashore here.'
Conservative organization uses Leftist tactics -- threats of disruption -- against the Left
There should be more of this. If there were, the Left might pull their horns in
The University of Sydney has refused to play host to an anti-war talk on Anzac Day, after members of nationalist group Reclaim Australia threatened to disrupt it.
The meeting, originally planned for Sunday April 26 and entitled ‘Anzac Day, the glorification of militarism and the drive to World War III’, was organised by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP).
‘The Great Aussie Patriot’, a Facebook page run by Sherman Burgess—the national events organiser of extreme right-wing group Reclaim Australia—was quick to pick up on the event, posting an image of a flyer for the debate (which was originally to take place in Burwood) and calling the party "pure Left Wing filth”. Followers were then encouraged to "gatecrash the meeting” in a post that was shared 187 times, which included demands for "traitors to be deported”.
SEP national secretary James Cogan told Honi that, "You can’t expect us to accept that a so called bastion of intellectual freedom will prevent us from doing what we’ve done numerous times and hold a public lecture in their facilities because of claims that there is going to be some sort of disturbance”.
"There was the potential of disruption at the lecture given by Colonel Kemp and that meeting was not cancelled, instead, what the university did was increase security…and that was a correct decision on their part.”
"You don’t suppress freedom of speech because of threats of protest or disruption from people who don’t believe in what’s being said—democratic principles apply.”
Just days ago, in response to the Kemp protest, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence spearheaded a campaign promoting freedom of speech, stating, "We must be a place in which debate on key issues of public significance can take place, and in which strongly held views can be freely expressed on all sides.”
However, the university told Cogan that the "potential for disruption to activities” was the reason for the cancellation.
"To turn around and refuse our hire request amounts to them joining with Burwood Council [who originally cancelled SEP’s event at Burwood Library Auditorium] in political censorship and it accommodates the demands of Reclaim Australia”
A spokesperson for the university said that they are "not aware of any contact from any person claiming to represent the Reclaim Australia group”.
"[The event] poses a significant risk of disruption to students and staff attending other University-related activities which are occurring on campus on the same day”, the spokesperson said.
The venue for the equivalent talk in Melbourne also received threats from nationalist protesters. However, Cogan told Honi that the Melbourne venue has increased security rather than abandon the event.
Bill Shorten’s wedge politics is neither clever nor productive
There is nothing inherently wrong with Bill Shorten’s superannuation tax policy announced yesterday. In fact it’s hard to disagree that earnings above $75,000 a year should pay a modest 15c in the dollar in taxation. A retired couple can still earn $150,000 a year before paying tax on their super.
Yet now is not the time for piecemeal changes announced with the primary purpose of wedging the government ahead of the budget. Both sides need to present voters with a wide-ranging manifesto before the next election, which could be called as soon as later this year.
Taxing super returns is a necessary evil in the context of budget repair, but so is tightening indexation on government spending initiatives, which Labor seeks to paint as unfair and cruel.
Debate must also be had on including the family home in the pension test. Why can someone choose to live in a multi-million-dollar home and still claim a pension, rather than be forced to take out a reverse mortgage to self-fund their retirement? This question will be asked by renting retirees living off superannuation savings who will have to pay
15 per cent tax on their earnings if Labor gets its way.
Broadening and increasing the GST should be debated, but Labor has ruled out such reform, sight unseen. The government is too timid to go there without bipartisanship.
Rethinking negative gearing is something economists such as Saul Eslake have long argued for, but neither side of politics has the courage to go there.
Finding efficiencies in government spending programs, including hot button areas such as the health budget, are labelled by Labor as an assault on the Australian way of life. Remarkably the opposition has opposed the very same efficiency drive in higher education it proposed when in government.
Failure to embrace any or all of the above at the same time as targeting the superannuation savings of the better-off renders yesterday’s announcement nothing more than deliberate class warfare. Which is not to say the tax change in isolation isn’t worthwhile. Yet given the other loopholes that remain open and won’t be up for debate, it’s fair to ask why this one must be closed?
I am less comfortable with the rate of 30c in the dollar tax being applied to super contributions for anyone earning above $250,000 under Labor’s policy. If we are supposed to be encouraging people to self-fund in retirement such a change does the opposite.
All of which is to say nothing about this bottom line: why does the political class seem to think the solution to every fiscal problem is simply to tax more?
Removing inefficient, investment-stifling and regressive taxes is the best way to grow the economic pie, which would render the need to keep putting up taxes a redundant necessity.
Crooked Billy Gordon slams TV show as 'kangaroo court'
BESIEGED Queensland MP Billy Gordon has fired back at the media after his former partner described him as a "monster" in a television interview to be aired on Thursday night.
KRISTY Peckham, who has broken her silence on domestic violence allegations levelled against Mr Gordon on the Nine Network's A Current Affair, denies airing the claims for political gain.
Mr Gordon on Thursday released a statement describing A Current Affair as a "kangaroo court".
"Unlike that program and other media outlets, I respect the current police investigation into certain allegations against me," he wrote. "I will thus make no comment until it is completed."
"Meanwhile, I will continue to work hard on the issues that matter to my constituents."
The Courier-Mail reports Ms Peckham has told ACA "he was like a monster". "I wasn't allowed to go anywhere and there was so much violence," she says in the interview.
A police investigation has been ongoing since Ms Peckham's initial allegations came to light last month, before Mr Gordon resigned for the Labor Party.
He remains an independent representative for his Cape York-based electorate despite calls from both Labor and the Liberal National Party opposition for him to quit parliament.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Ms Peckham's ACA interview was entirely a matter for her.
"I don't know what she's going to say, but I took decisive action and the Member for Cook is not a member of the state parliamentary Labor team," she said. "I sacked him."
The premier believed if Ms Peckham indicated that Mr Gordon had misled parliament it would be a serious matter, but she said it would be up to parliament to take action.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said officers were treating the investigation seriously but it had its challenges due to the claims being historic, as they relate to alleged incidents that occurred more than five years ago. Mr Stewart refused to comment further.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg also said if Mr Gordon's former partner provided evidence he had mislead parliament it would be a serious matter.
He was particularly concerned about allegations the MP was still behind on child support payments and tax returns.
"I think there needs to be a full and proper disclosure from Mr Gordon about whether this part of these allegations are correct," Mr Springborg said.
"He can't hide behind the police investigation in regards to non-payment of child support or non-return of tax returns."
Friday, April 24, 2015
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is having a laugh at the Warmists who predicted drought.
Manly Dam: SES says dam is full and there could be ‘minor overflow’
Hey! What happened to that drought Flannery and other Warmists were predicting? There is always drought somewhere in Australia but the Warmists were predicting widespread and unrelenting drought. It hasn't happened
RESIDENTS around Manly Dam have been told to be prepared to evacuate but the immediate threat to homes has passed.
Footage of the Manly Dam this morning shows there is a slight overflow of water but so far no evacuation orders have been issued for residents.
Last night residents in the areas next to the dam were advised that they should prepare to evacuate and an evacuation centre was opened at Harbord Diggers in Freshwater.
Where possible people were advised to stay with family or friends or arrange other accomodation.
The SES will issue a flood evacuation order if necessary but no order has been issued yet.
Steve Pearce of the SES confirmed that the dam was starting to spill. "The dam is spilling but it’s designed to spill. The dam is at no risk of collapse,” he told Sky News on Wednesday.
He said evacuation alerts, warning people they may have to prepare to move, would be rescinded later in the day. "There is no risk to the public.”
According to an online report on the SES website, an emergency alert was issued to 9000 residents in the Manly area due to the risk of flash flooding, but as of this morning "the immediate threat to the Manly community has passed, with tides receding”.
Emergency services door-knocked low-lying homes on Tuesday night telling residents an evacuation warning had been issued, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.
The tide is due to come in again at 11am on Wednesday.
Residents are being urged to follow the directions of the SES, stay calm and remain at home.
There were fears the dam would overflow and send a torrent of water onto dozens of homes, but SES spokeswoman Samantha Colwell said yesterday that while the dam was full and there might be some minor overflow, there was not an immediate threat.
"It’s not going to cause a downpour of water or anything like that, it’s something that would be slow and increase the water that’s already out there,” she said.
Police have also stepped in to try and calm concerned residents, with the top cop in the area, Detective Superintendent David Darcy, reassuring residents who live around the dam.
Of more concern to the SES were areas within the dam’s greater catchment area. "We certainly do have a lot of issues in the Manly Dam catchment area — in North Manly, Manly Vale and Manly itself. There are several streets there and preparing people that might need to evacuate because there’s a lot of flooding in some of those streets,” she added.
Ms Colwell said there were no evacuation orders currently in place but some of the streets in those areas had become isolated and it may be required if the rain continues to fall heavily.
"There’s some rain sitting off the coast and we’re just waiting to see which way it’s going to go and where it’s going to fall.”
Iranian-born Labor party thug exceeds his authority in harassment of banks
Labor senator Sam Dastyari has been accused of ambushing colleagues and threatened with a privileges investigation after he bypassed Senate protocols to unilaterally send a warning letter to the heads of the nation’s big four banks.
Senator Dastyari’s actions have led to a fresh outbreak of claims the ambitious former NSW ALP general secretary is using his role as the chairman of the high-profile Senate economics reference committee to further his own ambitions.
It is the same committee which a fortnight ago clashed with technology giants Apple, Google and Microsoft over tax evasion, and has led to questions about whether Senator Dastyari’s aggressive chairmanship has the potential to harm Labor’s relationship with big business.
The deputy chair of the committee, Liberal senator Sean Edwards, is incensed that Senator Dastyari wrote to bank chiefs without the committee’s knowledge and that his intentions to pursue a particular line of questioning were revealed in a newspaper column.
Senator Dastyari hit back last night, saying he "absolutely unequivocally" rejected any suggestion he should have telegraphed his line of interrogation to the committee. The tensions between the pair boiled over yesterday afternoon when the committee halted the evidence of National Australia Bank’s group chief executive Andrew Thorburn in order to hold a private meeting to adjudicate on the internal committee dispute.
On Monday, Fairfax columnist Adele Ferguson revealed details of where the committee’s questioning would head — even though members, apart from Senator Dastyari, were in the dark. In his letter, which was not sent to the banks until after the article appeared, the committee chair warned the executives to prepare for questions on the alleged rigging of bank bill swap rates.
"I was very disappointed to read over breakfast a story which bears no resemblance to the inquiry we are having, notifying me, the deputy chair, that we were going to be hearing from the banks about something that was completely outside the terms of reference," Senator Edwards last night told The Australian.
"I was not afforded the usual courtesy of being given notice and I didn’t really appreciate reading about it to the extent that I did." Asked if anyone was considering taking further action, Senator Edwards said: "In any activity that looks like or smells like that a committee is leaking, well that obviously triggers very, very serious issues and can be adjudicated by the privileges committee.
"I’m not sure that such a public exposure of an issue really indicated that there was anything malicious going on so therefore I won’t be pursuing it. However, I’ve made it very clear this type of activity will not be tolerated by myself into the future."
Senator Dastyari said he "utterly rejected any suggestion that members of a committee are under any obligation to give prior warning about what they are going to ask, but it is common from time to time to give witnesses a heads-up".
He said he agreed with the committee’s determination that questions about the bank bill swap rate were outside the terms of reference. "The committee rightly determined that it fell outside the scope,” he said. In response to allegations of grandstanding, Senator Dastyari said he made no apologies for "shining a light on economic issues that have long been ignored or forgotten”.
"I make no apology for using whatever powers that are available to the Senate to shine a spotlight on some of the deep, dark recesses of these economic issues that have been ignored for too long,” he said.
"If that means doing what we can to make sure that the stories of victims are heard, then I am proud of that.”
Senator Dastyari’s is understood to have signed the letter as the chairman of the committee but sent it on private letterhead.
Mr Thorburn said the bank had received a letter from Senator Dastyari late on Monday, and "I phoned a couple of our people to say is this what we are going to be talking about because I thought it was about wealth advice".
AN ISLAMIC PANDEMIC ... without a vaccine
Let’s be fair here, it’s said that only one in ten Muslims wants to separate your head from your torso, so let’s be really fair to all the "moderate" Muslims and say that only one in twenty (5%) harbours this ambition... I mean we don’t want to unfairly cast Islam in a poor light, do we? But, a meagre 5% means 25,000 Muslims resident in Australia intend to do some pretty bad things to us.
Never mind, security agencies say they have 400 of these ingrates under surveillance... (phew). But foiling the remaining 24,600 possible terrorist attacks on home soil may stretch the AFP’s resources, and anyway that Lindt Cafe bloke wasn’t even considered a threat, surveillance had been withdrawn.
Oh well, a few well planned explosions on ANZAC day should have a nice background effect. I mean we are remembering a war aren’t we?
And hundreds of suspects’ passports have been cancelled, (phew again) it’s much better they stay here and kill Aussies rather than travel to Syria to kill other Muslims. Of course a couple of hundred have "escaped” to join ISIS, much to the chagrin of the Government.
Three of the five arrested yesterday (presumably part of the 400 already under surveillance) were allowed to walk by yet another soft Left magistrate, but at least one was arrested... (phew).
But hang on, didn’t another soft Left magistrate let Man Monis walk? And didn’t Iran beg that he be returned to face some serious charges?
Of course Australia was fearful for what they might do to him so he was allowed to stay here to do some stuff to us instead.
And now Julie Bishop is in Teheran asking them to please take hundreds of these Rudd/Gillard Iranian vermin back! Good luck with THAT one Julie!
And didn’t another soft Left magistrate let a Geelong paedophile free to attack another little girl, on cultural grounds of course? I had better not mention that all these crims are Muslims or I will be accused of racism again.
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews was kind enough to reassure us that the five accused of planning to kill a few cops on ANZAC day were "not faith driven”... (phew, that’s a relief). But Tony Abbott has started using the words Islam and terrorism in the same sentence... (bit bloody rude).
Seriously though, there’s a problem with where our leaders are leading us. If there is a conservative figure of 25,000 Muslims out there who want to kill us (that number will soon double) why aren’t they being rounded up and posted on Manus Island where the natives know how to deal with them?
It was reported in the ‘West Australian’ yesterday that, "security agencies are now reviewing material gathered by an anonymous impostor who set up a fake Twitter account pretending to be the known promoter of terrorism Saudi Aborigine, Junaid Thorne.
"Within days more than 160 people had followed the account and many discussed openly with the impostor the idea of bombing Jewish organisations based in Sydney, as well as threats to carry out Charlie Hebdo-style attacks on cartoonists Larry Pickering and Bill Leak."
The West Australian reported that, "both men drew cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed after the attack on the French satirical newspaper in January which left 12 people dead including cartoonists, journalists and police officers.
"In one exchange with a Thorne follower, the impostor asked whether the individual was planning to kill Leak and Pickering.
"The follower, who goes by the Twitter name IslamicStateAU, replied that they knew where the two men lived and said their addresses had been passed on to ‘some brothers’ who would carry out the attack.
"It will be a repeat of Charlie Hebdo', the follower said.
"In other discussions, followers declared their support for Sydney's deadly Lindt Chocolate Cafe siege by Islamic State supporter Man Haron Monis in December. "The Lindt cafe operation was just the beginning. We will conquer Australia", a follower calling himself Hassan Ali IS told the fake Thorne.
"Another follower, calling himself Akhi AlAustralia, said he was saving up his money to leave Australia and join Islamic State.
"When the real Junaid Thorne became aware of the fake account early this week, he posted a warning on his Facebook page telling followers not to communicate with the person behind the account.
"But new followers were still being attracted to the fake site yesterday.
"The impostor - who claims he is in America - declined to reveal his identity to the West Australian saying he was concerned for his safety.
"The fake account has exposed the deep hatred many of Thorne's followers harbour towards non-Muslim Australians.
"Thorne's real Twitter account was suspended in February because of his radical views. He has now opened a new account in a bid to direct his followers away from the hoax.”
Well, Bill’s a bit younger and better looking than me, so he needs to be careful.
Meanwhile I’m off to the next "Reclaim Australia” rally, see you there my Muslim "brothers"!
Fishing impacts on the Great Barrier Reef
Mankind has impacted food species since time immemorial so this is nothing new -- and no evidence of any harm to people is adduced from it in this instance. And vast parts of Australia's surrounding waters are in marine parks anyway. Fishing is already very restricted
It's long been known that environmental impacts such as climate change and pollution are amongst the drivers of change on the Great Barrier Reef.
Now researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University have found that removing predatory fish such as coral trout and snapper, through fishing, causes significant changes to the make-up of the reef's fish populations. [Anything else would be surprising]
"A stable and healthy reef [Define "healthy"] includes a high abundance and diversity of predatory fish and a relatively low number of herbivorous and small prey fish," says study lead author April Boaden, a PhD student at the Coral CoE.
"Predatory fish are extremely important for maintaining a balanced ecosystem on the reef, yet predators such as coral trout, snapper and emperor fish remain the main target for both recreational and commercial fishers," she says.
As part of the study, the researchers conducted extensive surveys of fish and their habitats at multiple sites across the Great Barrier Reef.
They compared fish communities in designated marine reserves (green zones), recreational fishing areas (yellow zones) and sites that allowed both commercial and recreational fishing (blue zones).
"We found that the fish communities on reefs differed greatly according to the level of fishing that they were subject to," Ms Boaden says.
"Predator numbers were severely depleted in heavily fished areas, while smaller prey fish such as damselfish, and herbivores such as parrotfish, had increased greatly in number having been released from predation."
The reduction in predator abundance through fishing altered the balance and structure of the coral reef ecosystem.
"Major disturbances such as cyclones, coral bleaching, climate change, Crown of Thorns Starfish and river run-off are thought to be the primary agents of change on the Great Barrier Reef," says study co-author, Professor Mike Kingsford from the Coral CoE.
"Despite this, we have demonstrated that great differences in the abundance of predatory reef fish, and of their prey, can be attributed to humans," Professor Kingsford says.
The findings support the continued and improved use of the existing marine networks on the Great Barrier Reef.
"The good news is that the data demonstrate that the current system of marine reserves on the Great Barrier Reef is effective in preserving predator numbers, and in doing so we can learn more about the processes affecting reefs in the face of multiple impacts," Professor Kingsford says.
"Fishing impacts are something that we can manage fairly easily compared to other threats such as climate change and run-off pollution, which are threatening the Great Barrier Reef," adds Ms Boaden.
Journal Reference: A. E. Boaden, M. J. Kingsford. Predators drive community structure in coral reef fish assemblages. Ecosphere, 2015; 6 (4): art46 DOI: 10.1890/ES14-00292.1
Muslim head-teacher believes if females run in races they may lose their virginity
The principal of an Islamic school has come under fire after he reportedly banned girls from running, amid fears it would cause them to lose their virginity.
Former teachers of Al-Taqwa College, in Melbourne's outer western suburbs, claim in a letter sent to the state and federal education ministers that principal Omar Hallak was discriminating against female students.
The Age reported that the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority is currently investigating the allegations.
This comes a month after revelations that Mr Hallak was telling students at his school that Islamic State was not 'created' by Muslims, but was instead a plot against them by the West.
The letter sent to ministers by a former teacher this week about the girls not being able to fully participate in sport claimed Mr Hallak believes there is 'scientific evidence' to back his claims.
'The principal holds beliefs that if females run excessively, they may 'lose their virginity',' the letter said. 'The principal believes that there is scientific evidence to indicate that if girls injure themselves, such as break their leg while playing soccer, it could render them infertile.'
The principal of Al-Taqwa College banned female primary school students from participating in the 2013 and 2014 cross country district events, the teacher also claimed.
They said the principal had been unaware that the female students were training for the event, and got involved when he was notified.
When they found out they had been prevented from competing, a group of female students penned a letter to their principal asking him to let them compete.
'This letter is about the cross country event that has been cancelled', the letter from 'cross country girls' read. 'Apparantly (sic) it is because girls can't run and that is really offensive to all the girls that were going to participate in the event. 'As a school principal you should treat all the subjects equally just to be fair to all the students that want to participate in a sport event', the letter continued.
The note from the group of students also raises that point that 'it doesn't say girls can't run in the hadith (sayings of the prophet Mohammed)' and they should be able to participate as long as they are wearing 'appropriate clothes'.
Education minister James Merlino has told 3AW the reports are concerning and the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority is investigating. "If true these are very concerning reports and I have asked the VRQA to investigate and report back to me," Mr Merlino has told 3AW on Thursday.
When contacted by Daily Mail Australia Al-Taqwa College refused to comment.
Last month it was reported that Mr Hallak was teaching students at his school that Islamic State was not the doing of Muslims, but rather a plot against them.
He reportedly shows his almost 2,000 students ‘evidence’ that Islamic State terrorists are ‘not linked to Islam’.
‘We don’t believe Muslims are creating IS,’ Mr Hallak told The Age. He believes that the murder and brutality carried out by Islamic State terrorists is actually a plot by Western countries to control oil in the Middle East.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
The Abbott government has put Australia's renewable energy industry into limbo -- and almost no-one seems to care
Well done! The writer below is a Warmist but his facts are pretty right
18 months after the election of a government supposedly “open for business”, the renewables industry in this country is in ruins.
Investment has fallen off a cliff – down a stunning 90 per cent since early 2013. More than 2000 jobs have disappeared. Almost no new large-scale renewable energy is being built in Australia, so hostile has the environment become. Banco Santander, the world's third-largest clean energy lender, packed up and left in March.
The reason? The government has sabotaged the industry. According to international energy consultants Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “the Australian large-scale clean energy industry has become practically uninvestable due to ongoing uncertainty caused by the government's review of the Renewable Energy Target.”
As we’ve chronicled here at New Matilda, the Renewable Energy Target was once the tripartisan policy of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens. The law, which was passed under the Howard government, mandates that there must be 41,000 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity fed into the grid by 2020.
Before the 2013 election, the Coalition promised many times to keep the RET. “We have no plans to change the renewable energy target,” Tony Abbott said in September 2011. “We will be keeping the renewable energy target,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt said in February 2013. “The Coalition supports the current system, including the 41,000 gigawatt hours target,” Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham said in July 2013.
The promise was broken in early 2014, when the government announced that former Caltex boss, noted climate change denier Dick Warbuton, would head up a review. Surprise, surprise: the review recommended abolishing the RET altogether. Energy Minister Ian Macfarlane then used the report as political cover to attempt to slash the RET, to 26,000 hours.
But the RET is a law which requires amendment, and Macfarlane has been unable to get any cross-bench support for his changes. He instead said he would “negotiate” with Labor over a revised target. After first refusing any kind of compromise, Labor eventually came all the way down to 33,500 hours. Macfarlane is holding out for 32,000. In the meantime, renewables investment tanked, and has never recovered.
You get the impression the Coalition is quite happy that negotiations have stalled. No deal on the RET means the renewables industry stays in limbo, killing investment and destroying the medium-term prospects of the sector. Meanwhile, carbon permit-free coal makes windfall profits. And Macfarlane doesn’t even have to do anything. He can just fiddle while the renewables sector burns.
If this wasn’t the Abbott government, and we weren’t talking about renewable energy, it would be difficult to believe. Imagine a government that set out, quite openly, to destroy an entire sector of business activity, for purely ideological reasons – breaking an iron-clad election promise in the process.
But that’s precisely what’s happened in renewable energy, which depends upon the RET to leverage new investment into the Australian grid. It might be the biggest scandal in economic policy in recent history – and almost no-one seems to care.
Australia's approach to climate 'different', but 'fair, constructive', says U.S. rep
This will infuriate the local Greenies. Interview transcript:
MARK COLVIN: Two days of climate talks in Washington have wrapped up with the lead negotiator for the US acknowledging that Australia's government has a 'somewhat different perspective' on managing climate change.
But special envoy Todd Stern says Australia continues to play a "fair and constructive" role on the international scene.
The Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane, who's in Washington for other meetings, has defended Australia's record.
North America correspondent Lisa Millar reports.
LISA MILLAR: The two day session ended with praise for the clear focus countries are giving climate change months out from the talks in Paris.
On a phone briefing for the press, straight after the meeting, the US special envoy Todd Stern said they're ahead of where they were this time in 2009 as they approached the Copenhagen conference, which ended in failure.
TODD STERN: I don't have any doubts that we're in a better place. It doesn't mean (laughs) we're gonna, it's all going to work out in the end because that remains to be seen. But I think… I think, in a couple of different ways. I think that there is a substantial greater level of understanding about how this kind of agreement can come together. The greater sense of realism.
LISA MILLAR: But French president and host of the December conference Francois Hollande is less optimistic. He's been downbeat about the chances of success this time round, instead highlighting the obstacles.
Todd Stern agrees trying to get more than 190 countries to sign up to a deal to reduce global warming is an inherently difficult negotiation.
TODD STERN: I think that we're going to get there in the end but… but, you know you just look at the basic way these negotiations work. You have hard issues that involve everybody's entire economy, it's not like it's sort of a side issue.
It goes right to the heart of economic growth, development et cetera and if there's a 190 plus countries and more or less everybody's got to agree in the end. It's a dive with a high degree of difficulty, there's no question about that.
LISA MILLAR: And there have been questions this week about Australia's ability to dive deep.
When asked about the Abbott Government's contribution to the debate, Todd Stern said he understood the Prime Minister and his team had a somewhat different perspective on how to manage climate change than the last.
TODD STERN: But I think on the international scene they are a… they are a…. fair and constructive participant.
LISA MILLAR: Federal Minister Ian Macfarlane - who's in Washington for talks with science experts and industry groups - has rejected any criticism that Australia is out of step.
The current commitment is to cut carbon emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 but it hasn't revealed its commission reduction plans beyond then.
IAN MACFARLANE: We'll certainly be in step with the rest of the world and we will have a position by the middle of the year. There is a cabinet ministerial taskforce, a very high powered taskforce headed by Greg Hunt, Julie Bishop, Andrew Robb and myself and obviously cabinet will sign off on it as well.
But we will take a very strong position to Paris that will be in step with what the rest of the world is proposing.
I can assure you that Australia won't be an outlier in this, we have as I say a very sound record in lowering emissions. We are one of the few countries in the world that are on target in terms of meeting our 2020 commitments, and we'll continue to play our part.
LISA MILLAR: And he's again confirmed there'll be no more negotiating over the Government's renewable energy target of 32,000 gigawatt hours.
IAN MACFARLANE: How anyone can say we're not prepared to compromise it's beyond me. It's time that people got serious about this. There is no policy or logic basis to a number higher than 32. The Government has moved twice already and we won't be moving again.
MARK COLVIN: The Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane speaking to North America correspondent Lisa Millar in Washington.
Asylum seekers returned to Vietnam by Australian Navy had claims assessed at sea, UNHCR says
The United Nations refugee agency has revealed a group of Vietnamese asylum seekers had their claims assessed at sea before being returned home by the Australian Navy.
The group of 46 asylum seekers were returned by the Navy to Vietnam, and the UNHCR said they were subject to a screening process at sea.
The agency said it was seeking details from the Government about the procedures used but had expressed its concern.
UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan said individuals who sought asylum needed to be properly and individually screened for protection in an environment where they could explain their needs, or they could be at risk of grave danger.
"We're concerned that people may not have had access to proper procedures," she said.
"We are concerned that the group wasn't screened and assessed in a way that's fair and effective, that somehow their lives may be at risk."
Human Rights Watch deputy director Phil Robertson said he was suspicious about the way the operation was conducted.
"I think that probably these people had no access to counsel or [were not] able to prepare their case. And certainly they had no access to appeal," he said.
"So it's a shoddy process determined to send people back, and that's what's happening to these group of Vietnamese."
Mr Robertson said there were legitimate reasons for Vietnamese nationals to seek asylum.
"Vietnam is still a dictatorial one-party state and there are many people in Vietnam who have run afoul of the Vietnam government for inserting freedom of religion, for blogging, for trying to defend their land against encroachment by the state," he said.
"It goes on and on. There's over 200 political prisoners in Vietnam."
The ABC confirmed HMAS Choules had completed its mission to transfer the group back to Vietnam.
Another source told the ABC the 46 asylum seekers were offloaded in the port city of Vung Tau on Friday.
The asylum seekers were believed to have left Vietnam in March and were detected by the Navy earlier this month before they could reach Australia.
The Opposition has accused the Federal Government of a "new low" over secrecy surrounding the group of asylum seekers.
The Government has said it will not comment on operational matters.
Too much secrecy
Nine days ago, the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015 became law, after passing through both houses of Parliament with Labor support.
The more power you give any organisation, the more light needs to be shone on how it uses its power.
A record of your electronic communications – who you call, or text, or email, or message, when you do so, and where you are at the time – must now be kept by your service provider for a minimum of two years. And more than 20 law enforcement agencies will have access to those records without the need for a warrant, and without (needless to say) anyone informing you.
Well, Attorney-General George Brandis asks, how worrisome is that? After all, before this law was passed, your metadata was available to 85 agencies.
"The only change that this bill makes to the relationship between the state and the citizen," he told the Senate, "is to introduce safeguards in relation to the access of law enforcement agencies to metadata, which were not there before."
In particular, Senator Brandis addressed the so-called "chilling effect" on investigative journalism that the media feared would result from the authorities' ability to scour reporters' metadata in search of their confidential sources. That's been fixed, he assured us. The new act contains "a large and detailed architecture for the protection of journalists ... which forms no part of the existing law".
So it does. And I've been brooding about that architecture for the past two weeks, as I sat for many hours on aeroplanes, courtesy of the ABC's Foreign Correspondent. I've talked about it to journalists in Paris, Washington and New York, specialists in reporting on terrorism and counter-terrorism. And when I described one particular facet of the act to them – one that has received minimal comment here in Australia – they nearly fell off their chairs.
Division 4C of the amended act lays down that if a law enforcement agency wants to search a professional journalist's metadata in pursuit of his or her source, it first has to get a "journalist information warrant" from an "issuing authority" - usually a judge or magistrate - or in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation's case, from the Attorney-General.
The authority should only issue the warrant, the act says, if the public interest in doing so outweighs various other public interests, including the source's right to privacy. The authority must also weigh in the balance any arguments made by a public interest advocate.
This curious person – a senior lawyer (of course) with the necessary security clearances – will be appointed by the Prime Minister, no less. And, in the soothing words of the opposition defence spokesman, Labor's Stephen Conroy, "the PIA will be empowered to stand in the shoes of the journalist and argue why it is contrary to the public interest to issue the warrant".
Well fine. Except there's a Kafkaesque catch-22. The public interest advocate will not be able to inform the journalist or news organisation that a warrant has been sought, so the advocate cannot be briefed on any public interest aspect of the story, or any particular reason why the source should remain confidential, that is not already blindingly obvious.
Indeed, this public interest advocacy will not be public. It will be utterly private: one lawyer secretly trying to persuade another lawyer why a spook or a copper should not get access to a reporter's source, while the reporter – and, of course, the source – remain in blissful ignorance.
And here comes the kicker: the clause that had those foreign reporters falling off their chairs, but was barely mentioned by anyone, so far as I can see, in the parliamentary debates about the bill.
Section 182A of the new act says anyone who "discloses or uses" information about a journalist information warrant – about whether one has been applied for, or has been granted, or exists, or even does not exist - can be sent to prison for two years. Think about that.
What possible justification can there be for this extraordinary provision? After all, these warrants need have nothing whatever to do with terrorism or national security. They can be issued to any agency that is investigating pretty much any crime (including, presumably, the crime committed by any Commonwealth public servant who leaks official information to the media – see section 70 of the Crimes Act).
Section 182A is of a piece with the increasingly draconian enforcement of secrecy that Australians have blithely accepted since 9/11.
The 2003 act, for example, authorises ASIO to detain and question people for up to seven days, even if they are not suspected of complicity in a terrorist act, and prevents them from telling anybody that it has happened. The 2014 act says anyone who discloses information about a "special intelligence operation" can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. And there are many more such examples.
In the course of the debate on the new Data Retention Act, Conroy made this extraordinary statement: "Labor is determined to ensure that our national security and law enforcement agencies absolutely have the powers that are necessary to keep Australians safe."
"Absolutely" – what a dangerous word. Absolutism has no place in a democracy, especially not when it is applied to national security agencies. The more power you give any organisation, the more light needs to be shone on how it uses its power. To meet the terrorist "threat", we have been granting our security agencies and police forces more and more power, protected by ever more obsessive secrecy: more power, and more secrecy, than any comparable democracy in the world.
It is no exaggeration to say Australia is on the way to creating a secret police. What a triumph that is for the terrorists.
Plagiarism on rise at Australian universities as academics face pressure to pass international students
This has been going on for years
A NURSE who accidentally gave a 79-year-old hospital patient dishwashing liquid instead of his usual medication could not read the label on the bottle, despite being awarded a degree at an Australian university.
University academics have told Four Cornersof pressure on university lecturers to pass underperforming students and widespread plagiarism among international students desperate to complete their courses. There was also evidence of fraudulent documents being provided by overseas recruitment agents to help students gain entry to some of Australia’s top universities.
Retired lecturer Barbara Beale of the University of Western Sydney said she believed that there were students who had graduated from the university’s nursing course, one of the largest in the country, who should not have been allowed to do so.
“A lot of students end up in the aged care sector, who do we have in the aged car sector? The most vulnerable, ill people and we have students who may have been pushed through university looking after them.
“In the aged care sector there is not much supervision, very quickly they might find themselves being the only registered nurse on duty and that is something that frightens me.”
In March 2013, one UWS graduate, Bhavesh Shah, fed a cup of Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid to a private hospital patient because his poor English skills meant he could not read the label on the bottle.
At least two other graduates have also been forced out by hospitals due to poor English and dangerous practices, although the university says there have been no similar cases since 2011.
But Ms Beale said there was constant pressure at UWS to pass failing bachelor of nursing students. One student who she originally gave a mark of 2 out of 30 for one assignment, later had this changed to a pass. The paper passed through three reviewers before the fail was upheld.
“If I hadn’t really pressed that, if it had been somebody else that had less experience or less conviction ... then that student would have passed,” Ms Beale said.
In a statement, UWS strenuously denied soft-marking was a problem: “UWS completely rejects the accusation that the standard of our nursing program is ‘falling’ and our nursing students are ‘weak and unsafe’.”
Peak body Universities Australia has described the program as presenting a “one-sided picture of international education in Australia”.
“It is unfortunate that Four Corners failed to acknowledge Australia’s global leadership as a provider of high quality, and highly regarded international education,” University Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said in a statement.
“The list of agents terminated by Australian universities over the recent period indicates that Australia universities have robust systems for identifying and stamping out fraud and unethical behaviour.”
The report also shed light on the murky world of the offshore agents used by Australian universities to recruit hundreds of thousands of students, mainly from China.
In one case, a Beijing agent who represents universities including Monash, Queensland, Sydney, Newcastle, Southern Cross, Australian Catholic University, Australian National University and University of Technology, Sydney, was caught on tape saying he would accept a forged school transcript if a student had a poor academic record.
Agents also discussed how to get around the English language requirements at universities.
Group of Eight chief executive Vicki Thomson said its universities made no apology for using the on-the-ground skills of overseas agents to help choose students.
“However, at all times our global reputation is paramount ... for that reason Group of Eight universities act swiftly to address any issues that are brought to their attention,” Ms Thomson said in a statement.
“It should not be ignored that international education is Australia’s third largest exporter. Getting it right is paramount.”
Dr Zena O’Connor, who teaches at the University of Sydney, told Four Corners the income stream generated by international students was huge. At Sydney University, international students make up a quarter of all enrolments while at RMIT in Melbourne they make up 50 per cent.
“I’m staggered by the increase in plagiarism. To start with, in my experience, it was a very small proportion, you know, maybe two, three, four per cent. I would peg it now at being much, much higher, well over 50 per cent. And some of the cases of extreme plagiarism where a student has plagiarised at least 80 per cent if not up to 100 per cent of their paper, that proportion is growing, and that level of extreme plagiarism I didn’t see five or ten years ago.”
Dr O’Connor has not instituted formal proceedings against any students for plagiarism because she says she was told to do all she could to pass them.
Alex Barthel, who formerly ran the language centre at the University of Technology, Sydney, told Four Corners he had been a longstanding advocate for higher English language entry standards for universities.
“Academic staff increasingly are frustrated by the fact that they are there to teach pharmacy or engineering or IT or whatever they’re teaching and they’re basically saying, ‘It’s not my job to help somebody with 65 spelling errors on the first page of an assignment. It’s not my job to teach them basic English grammar’.”
A major report by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption last week, Learning the Hard Way, reported significant risks of corruption within institutions.
“There is a gap - at least in some courses - between the capabilities of many students and academic demands,” the report said.
“Students may be struggling to pass, but universities cannot afford to fail them.
“There is pressure for some international students to pass courses that are beyond their academic capabilities, pressure on staff within universities in NSW to find ways to pass students in order to preserve budgets.”
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
I blame our politicians for endangering Australians’ lives
I ACCUSE Australia’s political class of a crime. Of wilfully endangering the safety of Australians.
They — with much media help — have put Australians in danger through years of reckless immigration and refugee policies.
And it’s come to what we saw on Saturday — anti-terrorism police in Melbourne arresting five more young men from Muslim families, two for allegedly plotting attacks on police on Anzac Day.
These men were allegedly associates of Numan Haider, an Afghan refugee and Islamic State supporter who last year stabbed two Victorian policemen before being shot dead.
Police have been typically coy about identifying exactly which “community” the five were from, refusing in two press conferences on Saturday to even mention the words “Islam” or “Muslim”.
But their use of the word “community” made clear they meant something other than the Australian one.
The fact is we have imported people from “communities” so at odds with our own that a minority of members has declared war on our institutions, our police and even — allegedly — Anzac Day, the most potent symbol of our nationhood.
I do stress the word “minority”. Most Muslims here want peace.
But the hard facts remain. Of the 21 Australians jailed for terrorism offences so far this century, all were Muslim. Most were born overseas. Most of the rest are children of immigrants from Muslim countries.
Add the following: some 150 Australian Muslims have enlisted with barbaric terrorist groups of the Middle East, notably Islamic State.
Another 100 Australians thought likely to join them have had their passports confiscated, and some 200 have been pulled off planes.
Meanwhile ASIO is investigating 400 other cases involving Islamist threats.
This is an astonishing harvest of danger from a Muslim community here of fewer than 500,000 people.
Compare: we have more than 400,000 Buddhists, yet not one Buddhist has been convicted here of terrorism offences or shot a hostage in a Sydney cafe in the name of their faith.
There is undeniably something different about Islam, or at least the way many interpret it.
Then there’s the other danger: at least five prominent Australian journalists and cartoonists have been subject to serious death threats by Islamists, requiring two to move home.
If you wonder why so few journalists speak frankly about these issues, there’s a clue.
But with the dangers now so obvious, it’s time to call out those who so blindly exposed us to them.
There is Malcolm Fraser, the Liberal prime minister who ignored official warnings in 1976 that many refugees he was taking in from the Lebanese civil war were unskilled, illiterate and “of questionable character’’, meaning ‘’the conflicts, tensions and divisions within Lebanon will be transferred to Australia’’. Too true.
There’s Paul Keating, who, before becoming another high-immigration prime minister, overturned the Hawke government’s decision to deny permanent residency to Grand Mufti Taj Din al-Hilali, a hate preacher who went on to call the September 11 terror attacks “God’s work against oppressors”.
There’s Kevin Rudd, who as prime minister scrapped our tough border laws, opening the doors to 50,000 illegal boat people.
There is Rudd again, who, when warned by Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey that among the many peaceful boat people could be a terrorist or two, damned Tuckey to media applause for “divisive and disgusting remarks”.
There’s current Labor leader Bill Shorten, who still opposes the Abbott Government’s successful border policies and last year suggested we repeat Fraser’s mistake in response to wars in Iraq and Syria: “Perhaps it’s time to discuss do we take more refugees from these countries.”
And there’s even Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Yes, Abbott has stopped the boats, but even he still pandered to radical Muslim “representatives” he should have shunned, for instance consulting the Islamic Friendship Association’s Keysar Trad, described by the NSW Supreme Court as a “dangerous and disgraceful individual” who “incites people to commit acts of violence”.
A tiny handful of politicians have warned of the folly of bringing in uneducated people from cultures so alien to our own that it is utterly predictable many will struggle to fit in.
When the then immigration minister Kevin Andrews in 2007 warned that many Somali and Sudanese refugees had trouble fitting in and their intake would be cut, he was vilified.
Former Queensland premier Anna Bligh accused him of “a pure form of racism”. The Australian Democrats said he’d proved the Howard government was “not fit to govern”.
Victoria Police’s then chief commissioner Christine Nixon outrageously claimed “those Sudanese refugees are actually under-represented in the crime statistics”, when those statistics actually showed they were four times more likely to be arrested.
This dangerous denial continues.
When the Abbott Government last year warned that the terrorism risk had increased, Labor Senator Sue Lines claimed it was just a political stunt “to distract everyone from the Budget”.
Labor frontbencher Kim Carr agreed, feeding the dangerous victimology of many Islamist hotheads such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, who claim Australia has declared “war” on Muslims.
Disturbingly, much of the media has gone alone with this great denial. SBS notoriously refused to screen video it shot just days before the September 11 attacks which showed our Mufti Hilali praising suicide bombers as “heroes”.
And “human rights” lawyer and writer Julian Burnside this year claimed “the Islamophobia stirred up by Abbott and Bolt is a bigger threat to us than terrorism”.
This denial must stop.
Our refugee intake must be stricter, taking fewer people from cultures likely to clash with our own.
And we must be slower to shut down debates with screams of “racist”.
If you fear racists, then fear the ugly fallout if police one day fail to stop an Anzac Day plot by people that more prudent politicians would have kept out.
Reality a distant land for the Left’s Luddites
IN the alternate universe of lunatic Labor-Green-ABC politics, failure is hailed as success.
Nowhere has this been better demonstrated recently than in Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision to tear up contracts for the $6.8 billion East West Link.
A handful of inner-urban residents who have abandoned the Labor Party for the Greens may cheer the insane decision to not build an integral part of an essential infrastructure development and relinquish billions in federal funding.
But those who might have benefited from the 7000 jobs now lost, those who will remain parked on choked roads and those who understand the true cost of seeing Australia’s reputation for safe and reliable development will not be celebrating.
Andrews is a political throwback to a time of tribal cloth-cap Labor politics, as is Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and the ABC commentariat. All are fixated by a narrow leftist populism that excludes the national interest.
By contrast, NSW Premier Mike Baird, now leading the fastest-growing state economy in the nation, demonstrates the rewards to be garnered by those bold enough to back themselves and genuine transformational politics over self-interest.
Pondering the rise of risk adverse economy-destroying Labor politicians like Andrews, Shorten, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and his novice Queensland colleague Annastacia Palaszczuk, it is impossible to ignore the deadening influence of the monolithic taxpayer-funded ABC’s sprawling multi-platform broadcast monster on its national audience.
Without a single conservative presence hosting any major radio or television program and with a nationwide reach which includes regional areas in which there is no competition, the ABC’s ideological influence is seriously dangerous.
It has never been a secret that the ABC has always championed the Left, its attacks on the Labor Party only ever coming from further Left or Green voices.
Thus Prime Minister Kevin Rudd initially ticked all the ABC’s boxes until Julia Gillard with her added leftist feminist cred ousted him, with the approval of the ABC’s luvvies.
(Feminism, along with the bewildering varieties of minority sexual variants signified by the GLBT + whatever-letter-you-wish acronym, remains a driving force at the ABC. Hence its commentators’ outburst of barracking for the damaged Democrat contender Hillary Clinton in her current White House tilt.)
Despite Rudd and Gillard having supplanted their philosophical mentor and prime ministerial predecessor Gough Whitlam as the worst prime ministers in the nation’s history, they can still enjoy the largely uncritical support of the ABC and its followers.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his team, mandated to repair the economic damage wrought by the dangerous duo in their scant six-year wrecking spree, are conversely treated as a comic act.
Were it not tragedy, the true comedy is being enacted in the spectral world of the UN where Rudd is working behind the scenes to lobby for election to the UN secretary-general’s job as Korean Ban Ki-moon retires.
The ear-wax-eating failure has not denied his interest in the UN secretary-general’s position but an intermediary has told Fairfax media that, on a rotational basis, the job should go to an eastern European.
The world may yet be spared the Pink Batts solution to everything and, as a reader of The Australian commented on Friday: “An applicant with a CV blighted by too many ‘d’ words: debt, deficit, deaths, dysfunction, division, deceit, disunity, delusion and policy debacles, has to be ‘d’ for denied.”
The residual detestation of Rudd’s legacy that exists in Australia might influence a vote in the real world but at the UN, where a misogynistic nation such as Iran can be appointed to the commission on women’s rights even as a recent UN report chastised the Iranian government for imprisoning women’s rights activists, relegating women to outsider status in politics, and introducing “laws that permit gender discrimination and promote violence against women,” it would barely raise an eyebrow.
The report cites: “The revised Islamic Penal Code … values women’s testimony in a court of law as half that of a man’s, and a woman’s life half that of a man’s”.
Women are also subject to a significant number of executions for crimes such as adultery and surviving rape.
The UN’s hypocritical position on women’s rights might be expected to strike a chord with the ABC’s directors of news but is unlikely to be raised if there is an opportunity to confect an embarrassing moment for a member of the Coalition government.
The handful of professional journalists within the organisation who strive for impartiality are drowned out by those who see their principal role as representing the welfare lobby, the people smuggling lobby, the environment lobby and the global warming lobby.
Even now, less than a week out from the centenary of the Gallipoli landing Anzac Day celebration, one of the ABC’s most prominent commentators and senior editors, Jonathon Green, the foundation editor of the broadcaster’s online magazine The Drum, and, according to his ABC profile, presenter of Sunday Extra and fill-in host of RN Drive, can find a prominent platform for his view there is a “lasting intergeneration truth” that Gallipoli “then as now, was as much a place of deadly, noble sacrifice, as it was a crock of shit”.
A perverse cry from someone on the wrong side of history — only at your ABC.
Colourful description of Australia's popular immigration policy
One of Britain's most controversial commentators has sparked a furore by suggesting Europe follow Australia's approach to asylum seekers by "threatening them with violence until they bugger off".
In an article comparing North African asylum seekers to "cockroaches", The Sun columnist Katie Hopkins praises Australians for being like British people but with "balls of steel, can-do brains, tiny hearts and whacking great gunships".
Hopkins argues that European countries should adopt the Abbott government's turn-back-the-boats policy - an approach she calls an "Aussie version of sharia stoning".
The column - characterised by The Independent as "a piece so hateful that it might give Hitler pause" - was published days before a ship carrying 700 hopeful migrants sank in the Mediterranean.
Immigration has been one of the key issues in the lead-up to Britain's general election in May.
The leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which is expected to lift its vote significantly, has called for Britain to adopt an Australian-style visa system to reduce the number of unskilled workers coming from Europe.
"It's time to get Australian," Hopkins wrote in The Sun, commenting on the surge of boats attempting to reach Europe from North Africa.
"Australians are like British people but with balls of steel, can-do brains, tiny hearts and whacking great gunships. "Their approach to migrant boats is the sort of approach we need in the Med.
"They threaten them with violence until they bugger off, throwing cans of Castlemaine [XXXX] in an Aussie version of sharia stoning.
"And their approach is working. Migrant boats have halved in number since Prime Minister Tony Abbott got tough."
Hopkins summarises her solution to the increasing number of boats attempting to reach Europe from North Africa as: "Bring on the gunships, force migrants back to their shores and burn the boats."
Tough action is needed because some British towns have become "festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants and asylum seekers, shelling out benefits like Monopoly money".
"Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches," she writes. "They might look a bit like 'Bob Geldof's Ethiopia circa 1984', but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb."
British comedian Russell Brand tweeted to Hopkins: "[T]o write about immigrants so hatefully you cannot love yourself. Come back to humanity, you must be shattered."
Hopkins has previously stoked controversy by calling dementia patients "bed blockers" who take up scarce hospital beds and saying that she would not let her children play with classmates with names such as Tyler and Chardonnay.
Last month UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "What we want to do is change our relationship with the European Union, take back control of our borders and put in place a positive immigration policy.
"By that I mean we want an Australian-style points system to decide who comes to live, work and settle in this country."
Australians Reach ‘Tax Freedom Day’ Two Weeks Earlier Than Americans
Australian taxpayers celebrated "Tax Freedom Day" on April 11, two weeks earlier than their American counterparts, according to the Sydney-based Centre for Independent Studies (CIS).
“Tax Freedom Day” marks the date on which Australians finally finished working to pay their taxes for the year.
"Tax Freedom Day is an important day on the economics calendar as it signifies when we start keeping for ourselves the money we earn," CIS senior fellow Robert Carling said.
According to CIS, Australians worked 100 days to pay their taxes in 2015, or 14 fewer days than Americans have to work to support their government this year.
The United States won’t reach Tax Freedom Day until April 24, according to estimates made by the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation.
Over the last five years, Americans have had to work an increasing number of days to pay their taxes. Tax Freedom Day for the U.S. fell on April 21 in 2014, April 18 in 2013, April 17 in 2012, April 12 in 2011, and April 9 in 2010 - 15 days earlier than 2015.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that U.S. government revenues will constitute 17.7 percent of a projected $17.98 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015, still short of what is needed to cover government outlays equivalent to 20.9 percent of GDP.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that Australia’s outlays constituted 19 percent of its GDP last year.
Though relative spending levels in the two countries are similar, revenue in Australia comes much closer to matching outlays. The “down under” country’s national debt is approximately $676 billion AUD, which is equivalent to about 30 percent of its total GDP, or just under $30,000 per individual Australian.
The U.S. national debt is more than $18 trillion, which exceeds annual GDP and amounts to nearly $57,000 per individual American.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks a lot of West Australians would like to secede and get out from under a bloated Federal bureaucracy. He is probably right.
Tony Abbott can't win
Bob Hawke skolling beer makes him a great bloke. Not so for Abbott
Tony Abbott may have thrilled players at an Australian Rules function by skolling a beer but he’s drawn the ire of anti-drinking campaigners who claim he’s glorifying binge drinking and associating being a man with drinking booze.
Julie Robert, a cultural studies professor at the University of Technology Sydney, said it was 'problematic' that the Prime Minister, who she believes should be advocating against binge drinking, thought it acceptable to 'showcase his masculinity' by skolling a beer.
‘It sets up a culture that drinking isn’t about socialising with friends, it’s about how quickly and how much you can drink,’ she said.
On Saturday night Mr Abbott appeared happy to oblige when he was asked to have a drink by University of Technology Sydney Bats coach Simon Carradous.
It took the Prime Minister about six seconds to down the schooner as players cheered and chanted 'skol' and 'Tony'.
Dr Robert warned people can forget their limits when they are wrapped up in the act of demonstrating how much, or how quickly, they can drink.
'It is the whole performance and the display and showing off which is the problematic part,' she told Daily Mail Australia.
However, she said it was not just Mr Abbott's skol that was concerning, it was also the way media and other government officials have reacted to the event.
In an interview on Sunday, opposition leader Bill Shorten quipped that he was 'just pleased that Tony Abbott’s learning to drink beer without adding lemonade to it'.
Mr Abbott was labelled 'un-Australian' for ordering a light beer during his 2010 campaign.
Health Minister Sussan Ley was quick to jump to Mr Abbott's defence saying there was 'nothing wrong' with the Prime Minister's antics. “If more people got up at 4.30 in the morning and went running and cycling and worked as hard as our Prime Minister to keep fit and demonstrate that there are many ways that you can do this, I think we’d have a healthier country as a result,’’ Ms Ley said.
While Mr Abbott is not the first Australian Prime Minister to show off his skolling skills, with former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke a notable example, Dr Roberts said he should have taken into consideration recent shifts in attitudes over heavy drinking.
'I don’t necessarily think it’s a partisan thing but I do think the climate has changed and we didn’t [used to] have the concern over binge drinking that we do now,' she said.
Lawyers protecting their mates enrages corruption body
Unprecedented verdict weakens anti--corruption powers
ICAC’s investigation into NSW criminal prosecutor Margaret Cunneen was found to be a breach of its legislative powers. Source: News Corp Australia
The Independent Commission Against Corruption has lashed out at the High Court and demanded the NSW government introduce retrospective legislation to restore powers the anti-corruption body claims it has lost as a result of its failed investigation into prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.
Following last week’s decision by the High Court, which found the ICAC’s investigation into NSW criminal prosecutor Margaret Cunneen was a breach of its legislative powers, the ICAC today broke its silence criticising the High Court’s decision arguing it will “substantially damage the Commission’s ability” to carry out anti-corruption investigations.
“The decision in this matter about the scope of section 8(2) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 by the majority of the High Court of Australia adopted a construction of the section that had never previously been argued or accepted since the ICAC’s inception.
“The narrow construction given to section 8(2) by the Court will substantially damage the Commission’s ability to carry out its corruption investigation and corruption prevention functions,” the ICAC said in a statement.
In a 4-1 decision, the High Court ruled last week that ICAC had no power to investigate allegations that Ms Cunneen and her son Stephen Wyllie advised his girlfriend, Sophia Tilley, to “pretend to have chest pains” at the scene of an accident with the intention of perverting the course of justice.
The decision is a major blow to ICAC, significantly narrowing the corruption previously thought to be in its remit.
In a stinging rebuke, the ICAC also said the High Court decision will “severely restrict” its findings into two investigations into NSW Liberal fundraising and the role of Australian Water Holdings, which led to the resignation of former federal assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos.
“The decision means that the Commission will be unable to investigate or report on several current operations, and will severely restrict its ability to report on Operations Spicer and Credo.
The anti-corruption body also claimed the High Court’s decision in Cunneen will lead to an avalanche of litigation by those found to have been corrupt by the ICAC and those facing criminal charges as a result of its investigations.
“It has the potential to involve the State of NSW and the Commission in costly and protracted litigation involving persons who have been the subject of corrupt conduct findings based on investigations conducted under section 8(2), and will affect current litigation involving such findings.”
“It also has the potential to call into question the prosecutions and convictions of persons where evidence against them was obtained during Commission investigations based on section 8(2).”
ICAC demanded the NSW Parliament introduce retrospective legislation to restore the powers it claims to have lost, arguing no previous legislation interpretation of the ICAC Act was consistent with the High Court’s findings.
“In the circumstances, the Commission has made a submission to the NSW Government to consider, as a matter of priority, amending section 8(2) to ensure that the section can operate in accordance with its intended scope and making any such amendment retrospective.”
Last week David Levine, the inspector of the NSW ICAC criticised the ICAC for not making a comment on the matter earlier, despite comments from former ICAC Commissioner David Ipp and leaks to media outlets. The former Supreme Court judge also said there had been a “simplistic view” by some that parliament could now “cure the state of affairs that ICAC is now perceived to be in by some amendments to the legislation”.
In a statement last week Mr Levine said he had told the Commissioner he could see no reason why the ICAC could not now issue a public statement regarding the High Court ruling.
“I am of the view that the present standing of the ICAC in the eyes of the public whose interests it exists to champion on issues of corruption and integrity is to say the least, unhappy,” he said.
“I express this view as the Inspector and I express it of the ICAC as a Statutory entity.
“It is my view that ICAC is duty bound to inform the public to indicate what it is doing and what it proposes to do and to give some explanation for the course it has taken not only in relation to Operation Hale but any other outstanding matters.
Unions have their hands out in Queensland
The unions beat Vince Gair so Mrs P will have to be careful
UNION bosses are warning Annastacia Palaszczuk to honour commitments Labor made to them, issuing blatant reminders of how they helped the party secure an unlikely win on January 31.
One high-profile figure boasts about how his union “supported” seven successful Labor candidates and the fact that two of them now sit in Cabinet with the Premier.
Gary Bullock, who heads left-wing union United Voice, even went so far as to refer to the members and ministers as “United Voice MPs”.
It comes as a recent AMWU publication links promises to grow manufacturing jobs with the pouring of resources by the union into local campaigns for “card-carrying” candidates.
“The new Queensland Government contains card-carrying AMWU members, including Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure Jackie Trad in South Brisbane, Shannon Fentiman in Waterford, Brittany Lauga in Keppel and Peter Russo in Sunnybank,” the publication states.
“(AMWU state secretary Rohan) Webb said these Labor MPs had pledged to prioritise growing new manufacturing industries as our union poured resources and grassroots support into their electorate campaigns.”
Ms Palaszczuk this morning said, while launching the Premier’s Reading Challenge at Coorparoo State School, that she did not feel as though her government was indebted to the union movement.
When asked directly whether she believed her Government owed the unions anything for the role they played in her election win, she said: “No, I believe that we should be working as one - the business community, the labour movement, and my government should be working as one to generate jobs in this state.”
The Premier said Mr Bullock’s comments did not concern her.
“I’m not worried (about) what Gary Bullock is saying to his membership, he’s standing up for the rights of his membership right across this state,” she said.
When asked whether Mr Bullock was “overstating” his influence, Ms Palaszczuk said: “I think people can draw their own assumptions and perhaps some people put more emphasis on those issues, but what I will say is that my members will always stand up for members.”
Ms Palaszczuk said it was no surprise that Labor had strong links to the union movement, saying she was unapologetic about wanting to create safe working environments.
“I’ve seen reports in The Courier-Mail today and everybody, it’s no secret that the Labor Party was born out of the labour movement,” she said.
“And I make no excuse for standing up for workers’ rights in this state. I make no excuse for ensuring that workers conditions at work are safe and secure and I make no excuse for having as my top priority creating jobs for workers in this state.
“So, I’m proud to hang my hat on a Government that is focused on job creation, safety at work and making sure that workers’ rights are protected.”
Ms Palaszczuk was also asked about the role union leaders played in her Government.
“I consult with a wide range of stakeholders,” she said. “So when I was first elected, I met with the business community and I met with members of the labour movement. What I want to see in this state is where the labour movement and the business community work as one. I said I would lead a government of consensus and that is exactly what I intend to do.”
Mr Bullock goes on to say that United Voice members “won some fantastic commitments from Labor”, adding that they now “want to see the new Palaszczuk Government restore their faith, just stick to their word”.
“United Voice supported seven successful candidates in the election and two of them are now ministers in Cabinet,” he says.
“These United Voice MPs know Labor’s commitments, they made the same commitments themselves and now they’ll help to make sure those promises become reality.”
W. Australian potato tyranny to end
WA’s archaic “spud cop” faces the chop, with Colin Barnett declaring the Potato Marketing Corporation will be abolished within two years.
The Premier told The West Australian it was time to peel back rules that dictated the varieties, quantities and price of potatoes grown in the State. “The Potato Corp’s days are up,” Mr Barnett said. “It will go. It should have gone years ago.”
The corporation’s future has been under the microscope in recent weeks after a Federal review on competition policy singled it out as a $3.8 million-a-year drag on the WA economy.
As well as requiring growers to be licensed and restricting potato crops, the PMC has draconian powers, including the ability to search vehicles suspected of carrying more than 50kg of potatoes and impound contraband spuds.
As part of a potential bailout deal to help WA as it has its GST share slashed, Canberra has told Mr Barnett he should cut “anomalous” business practices.
The abolition of the PMC will be part of a suite of reforms demanded by the Abbott Government in negotiations for about $500 million of infrastructure spending brought forward by the Commonwealth.
Mr Barnett said the PMC’s predecessor was set up in the 1940s to ensure a stable supply of potatoes to feed war-torn Europe but the Government was now looking to wind it up. “It won’t be there after the next election (due in 2017),” he said. “We may even bring in legislation prior to the election to nominate the day on which it closes.”
The Premier expressed frustration the PMC was often held up as an example of how WA had not reformed its economy, contrasting it to surveys that found the State was ranked best in the world for mining.
The corporation’s chief Peter Evans declined to comment but president of the pro-PMC Potato Growers Association of WA Dean Ryan was surprised by Mr Barnett’s decision. “There is a firm commitment from the Premier and Agriculture Minister there will be no changes to the current system until at least 2017,” he said. “This issue needs to be about the survival of small growers and farmers in WA.”
Mr Ryan said there was a debate over potato marketing showed the need for a broader community discussion about whether WA consumers wanted to be self-sufficient with fresh locally grown food or rely on imported produce from the Eastern States and overseas produce.
“If we’re happy to see no cost reduction at all in the price of potatoes as a result of deregulation, while watching even more country communities and farming families – who grow safe and fresh local produce - being pushed out, then that’s the way it is heading,” he said.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said Labor’s policy since 2012 had been to scrap the PMC, which Mr Barnett had previously opposed. “He’s copying us, again, on a sensible policy,” he said.
Brisbane radio to become more conservative
Less than two weeks before his radio program airs on 4BC, presenter Ray Hadley has described the Brisbane radio station as "a poor imitation of the ABC".
Hadley's mornings program on Sydney's 2GB will be syndicated on 4BC from April 27, along with a breakfast show hosted by Alan Jones.
Hadley will replace Patrick Condren in the morning slot.
Radio host Ray Hadley has criticised Brisbane radio station 4BC less than two weeks before his show becomes one of its headline programs.
Radio host Ray Hadley has criticised Brisbane radio station 4BC less than two weeks before his show becomes one of its headline programs. Photo: Peter Rae
On Wednesday he said the challenge of building an audience from a 4.3 per cent market share was "massive".
"At my age and 32 years into the business, I'm always looking for challenges and I think this is probably my biggest one," he told Fairfax Media.
"The station is running last. It's embarrassing.
"I've been listening to it for a number of months now to see what it's like and it's just a poor imitation of the ABC. It's a left-wing station that doesn't appear to have much to say about major issues."
News that most of 4BC's Brisbane presenters would be sacked was met with disappointment by several media commentators, and the station's plight is now being mocked on Twitter by a parody account.
However Hadley said he wasn't worried 4BC listeners would switch off because of a reduction in Brisbane content and presenters.
"They had a minuscule audience," he said.
"It's not as if they had 300,000 people listening. There's hardly anyone listening to the station. Something has to change."
"It appears to me not even the entire families of the broadcasters are listening."
Hadley said his mornings program would be relevant in Brisbane because the topics it covered were either national or of broad interest.
"In terms of Brisbane guests, it's not a magazine program...It's a program about news and about opinions - mainly my opinions because it's my program."
A merger between the Macquarie and Fairfax radio networks was officially completed on March 31, with Fairfax holding a 54.5 per cent stake of the super-sized Macquarie Radio Network. Most of the job cuts across the network have come from the Fairfax side of the business.
Hadley has in the past criticised Fairfax Media, whose brands include Brisbane Times, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Rival Sydney station 2UE and Brisbane's 4BC were also Fairfax-owned until the merger.
When asked on Wednesday what he thought of Fairfax, Hadley said: "I have no comment to make".
"It's immaterial to me who's a shareholder and who's not a shareholder. John Singleton still owns about 35 per cent and that's who I started working for 14 years ago. I don't work for Fairfax, I work for Macquarie Radio," he said.