Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Leftist witch-hunt

Brilliant Australian comedian Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) is fairly conservative on the rare occasions when he is being serious and one of his serious comments appears below.  It appeared as a letter in "The Australian" newspaper, a Murdoch creation.  He is appalled at the furore generated when some private emails from a  professor of poetry at the University of Sydney, Barry Spurr, were leaked to the Leftist press. I think I should add a few points here in addition to the points made by Humphries.

The opinions expressed by Spurr were basically old-fashioned these days and being an oldster myself, I share many of them.  But the main thing that has the Left up in arms is the type of language Prof. Spurr uses.  His vocabulary is the antithesis of political correctness, probably deliberately. For instance, when describing the undoubted increase in obesity in recent years, he refers to "fatties" instead of "people of girth" or whatever the politically correct term is these days.

And obesity figures prominently in the ways Spurr disapproves of modern life.  He bewails a loss of standards these days and thinks that social customs, values and such things were better in the old days.  And the fact that people were a lot slimmer back in the '40s and '50s is one of the examples he gives of slipping standards these days.  But that is simply truthful.  Politicians worldwide have declared a "war" on obesity, accompanied by a claim that we and our waistlines are going to the dogs these days. Spurr is right that standards have slipped.

Basically, Spurr offends against Leftist pieties without, I believe, saying much that would disturb the average Australian.  But people who breach those Leftist pieties publicly earn such a torrent of Leftist abuse that people have become cautious about plain speaking.  And the dominance of the Left in the media, in education and in the bureaucracy has made plain speaking simply dangerous to one's career on many occasions.

And Prof. Spurr was clearly aware of that.  He confined his uninhibited language to private emails.  But, with typical Leftist lack of scruple, someone (presumably someone involved in looking after the university email system) "hacked" Spurr's emails and forwarded them to a far-Left publication, which promptly reproduced them.  Read them here for yourself.

And the very mention of some social groups is automatically called "racist" by Leftists, let alone claiming differences between those groups, and let alone using mocking language about such groups.  So Spurr's references to Muslims as "mussies" is deep-dyed offensiveness to leftist minds. 

And Spurr's failure to respect feminism was also deemed offensive, despite the fact that most men and many women would concur with that.  We even had some good evidence of that in Australia a couple of years ago, when our Leftist Prime Minister, Julia Gillard,  made an angry feminist speech condemning "misogyny".  The speech was applauded by feminists worldwide but it sank Julia.  Her popularity among men reached such catastrophic low in the public opinion polls that her own party booted her out of the Prime Ministership not long thereafter.

Spurr also despairs of the obsessive attention paid to Aborigines in Australian universities and elsewhere.  You cannot go to a graduation ceremony in an Australian university these days without being addressed by some Aboriginal person about things that have little or nothing to do with the university.  It is just political correctness and I deplore it too. It is simply boring and irrelevant.  It does nothing for anyone as far as I can see.  I am sure that the drunken Aborigines who infest many public places in Queensland, where I live, are not uplifted by it.  It is just Leftist tokenism.

And it seems unlikely that even Leftists believe in their own pieties.  Every now and again their real beliefs do leak out.  A prime example comes from the constant arguments about voter ID in America. There is a lot of fraudulent voting in America.  As that great authority on crime, Al Capone, said:  "Vote early and vote often". In response American conservatives have pushed hard for people to present photo ID before they are allowed to vote. But because a lot of the fraudulent voting is in favour of Leftist candidates, Leftists have repeatedly gone to court to block the requirement for voters to present photo ID. 

And what argument do Leftists constantly use to support their case?  They argue that it would "disenfranchise" blacks.  They claim, in other words, that blacks are too dumb to be able to acquire such ID, even though you need photo ID to do almost anything in America.  And the whole Leftist program of "affirmative action" reveals a barely hidden belief that blacks are unable to make it in open competition with whites.  With their constant obessing over race, it is Leftists who are the real racists and the big hypocrites.  More on that here

I saw that hypocrisy repeatedly in my research career.  Although nothing could be more authoritarian than Leftism (they want to MAKE people behave in a way they approve of) my survey research always revealed great reluctance for Leftists to approve of anything authoritarian or pro-authority.  They could not admit their own motivations.  Leftists rely heavily of the psychological defence mechanisms of denial and projection.  On many issues, they just cannot let  reality in at all. 

And I showed long ago. that Leftists will espouse views that they actually disagree with if it suits their purpose.  And in the run-up to the 2004 American presidential election, John Kerry and other Leftists even argued for the status quo and something very similar to the venerable Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 in order to criticize GWB's military excursions in the Middle East! See here and here

And their condemnation of "racism" is of a piece with their hypocrisy. As  psychological research has often shown, it is completely natural for people to have a preference for people like themselves, for their own group.  And they do.  But say so out loud and Leftists  will come down on you like a ton of bricks.  As human beings, they too have such feelings but for political expedience, they deny it.  There are many Barry Spurrs out there and many of them will be Leftist.


HAS Australia gone slightly mad? I read in the London press of some poor professor in Sydney who has been persecuted and suspended for sending emails to a friend in which he employs outrageous vernacular epithets for race which would be offensive if they were not so clearly jocular.

His reported response to the storm in a teacup which followed this revelation is, unsurprisingly, bewilderment. How could anyone take such deliberate touretting seriously? The answer, I fear, is that there are a lot of Australians these days who are totally bereft of a sense of humour. The new puritanism is alive, well and powerful.

Not long ago some poor guy was actually prosecuted for saying that the Aboriginal welfare services were sometimes exploited by faux Aborigines, even though we knew it was true.

Recently, I announced that when I curate next year’s Adelaide cabaret festival I will ban the F-word, and there was a howl of protest, indeed outrage, particularly from comedians. What kind of comedians were they, do you suppose? Why, comedians with no sense of humour of course! Or comedians whose stand-ups would be meaningless if deprived of one over-used word.

We really ought to be aware of this malignant brand of cultural fascism, and restore our reputation as a funny country before it’s too late.

Barry Humphries, London, UK


Say no to Australia's  coal killers

CONVICTED killer, now Anglican priest, Evan Pederick is the perfect poster boy for the fossil fuel divestment campaign. The convicted and self-confessed terrorist has been taken into the bosom of the Anglican Church and joined forces with other churches to divest their institutions of investments in fossil fuels (and some minerals).

That other church of green ideology, the Australian National University, has done the same.

Pederick willingly and knowingly set out to destroy a life, that of the Indian prime minister, by planting a bomb in Sydney in 1978. He missed and killed three others instead. Divestment activists, perhaps unwittingly, also will harm innocent people.

Instead of Killers against Coal, why not Christians for Coal?

The moral calculation is simple. An effective divestment campaign would increase the cost of power and harm the poor.

It would substitute the possible risk of some harm to life from climate change decades into the future with the certain harm to life from denial of access to cheap ­energy now. An ineffective campaign, which is more likely, would waste the opportunity to put funds to better use.

Had the ANU, for example, announced that it would devote more of its (taxpayer supported) trust’s investments to low carbon energy research, building on its actual contribution to society, education, few outsiders would have quibbled. Except, of course, the trustees, who bypassed the opportunity because the investment would have been high risk and harmed its own income.

Instead, ANU trustees took a moral preening stance with low risk to its own income and high risk of harm to the poor. While accepting taxpayers’ money to train engineers, the ANU trustees and its vice-chancellor treat the work of those engineers with a likely future in fossil fuel and minerals mining with disdain. In the spirit of undergraduate activism that now infects the ANU at the highest levels, I urge all engineering aspirants to boycott the ANU.

The mystery is why the disease of divestment has spread so far and wide. Partly, it is because the climate change research pool has been tainted by a culture of silencing dissent in pursuit of public funds. Partly, it is a consequence of the growth of green non-government organisations, most with taxpayer privileges, and partly because industry has given up arguing the case for science in the service of progress.

Industry, especially companies with head offices in Europe, allowed itself to be demonised. It got sucked into the social licence to operate gibberish. It ceded legitimacy to a bunch of moralists who would keep the poor poor.

“Beyond Petroleum” was the tag adopted by a BP too embarrassed to face the public about the fact the public, indeed, the poor, needed hydrocarbons. BP chief executive John Browne’s ­famous 1997 speech signalled that “We in BP … must now focus on what can and what should be done, not because we can be certain climate change is happening but because the possibility can’t be ignored. If we are all to take responsibility for the future of our planet, then it falls to us to begin to take precautionary action now.”

At that time of climate change hyperbole BP (and many others) failed to defend its role in society. Of course, the greens never accepted the ploy, renouncing it as Beyond Belief. Indeed, from its 2000 announcements of investments in bio fuels, wind and solar, by 2011 BP had sold the solar business and by 2013 had attempted to sell the wind business. Bio-fuels remain beholden to huge taxpayer subsidies, harming the poor.

As Browne wrote in his 2013 book Seven Elements That Have Changed the World, one of which is carbon, “the prospects for meaningful international agreement on climate changed (sic) have diminished with each passing year”. He also concedes that political leaders “need to prepare us to adapt to a different set of climatic conditions”. Adaptation is the new reality, not the fantasy of abatement, which is at the heart of the divestment strategy.

Shell, on the other hand, has decided to fight back. Last week, Shell’s chairman in Australia, ­Andrew Smith, said rising activism was “fast becoming one of the greatest challenges facing Australian growth”.

Many more must join the fight, the first task of which is to name the enemy within — the killer priest, the ANU vice-chancellor and trustees, and scores of green NGOs. These should be made to feel the cold steel of rationality, which by the way, cannot be made without coking coal.


Murdoch lashes Abbott on journalists law

News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch has invoked his grandfather's reporting of Gallipoli to lash the Abbott government's new national security laws that could jail journalists for up to 10 years.

Mr Murdoch said Australia's press freedom was under threat and had already fallen dramatically by world standards.

"It might surprise you that today Australia ranks 33rd, just behind Belize, on the Freedom house index. 20 years ago we ranked 9th," Mr Murdoch said during the Keith Murdoch Oration at the State Library in Melbourne on Thursday night.

Mr Murdoch said the government was frequently asking Australians to trust them 'we're from the government', when attempting to censor the media.

"But trust is something that should not be a consideration when restricting our fundamental freedoms. Our freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not things we should blindly entrust anyone."

Mr Murdoch singled out the government's national security laws that could jail journalists for up to 10 years for revealing "special intelligence operations".

Many, including human rights commissioner Tim Wilson, have condemned these laws, saying they would restrict legitimate scrutiny of Australia's secret agencies.

Mr Murdoch said the government's terminology, particularly "secret intelligence operation", was ambiguous.

"It's left up to government agencies at the time to decide. Would the Gallipoli campaign have been a special operation?"

Mr Murdoch's grandfather Sir Keith Murdoch revealed the devastation of Gallipoli, which killed more than 8000 soldiers, in a letter to then Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, despite reports from the battle field being censored by the military.

"Incredible as it seems today, Fisher … had received little notice of the Gallipoli invasion.

"Would Sir Keith have been arrested … to spend the next 10 years in jail? And remember, the taking of that letter … a private communication to the prime minister, was tremendous overreach by the military at that time.

"A century ago, Keith Murdoch's Gallipoli letter was Australia's boldest declaration that our nation had the right to know the truth."

Mr Murdoch also took aim at the previous Labor government's attempts to introduce a public interest media advocate to oversee all media as the "most draconian attack on the press this country has ever seen in peacetime".

Failure to comply with advocate could have seen the removal of the Privacy Act exemptions, which "are essential for journalists to do their work", Mr Murdoch said.

"And, if all else failed, a single unnamed 'super expert' could apply his or her own undefined 'public interest test' and punish an organisation commercially," he said.

"Censorship should be resisted in all its insidious forms. We should be vigilant of the gradual erosion of our freedom to know, to be informed, and make reasoned decisions in our society and in our democracy.

"We must all take notice and, like Sir Keith, have the courage to act when those freedoms are threatened."


The modern-day Left dislike patriotism

By TANVEER AHMED (A psychiatrist of Bangladeshi origin)

“IT is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God Save the King than of stealing from a poor box.” So wrote George Orwell. His sentiments could scarcely be more applicable in modern Australia.

On patriotism, as with other national characteristics and policy strategies, Australia sits between individualist, nationalist America and collectivist, patri­otically reluctant Europe.

Recent stormy debate over a T-shirt bearing an Australian flag and the slogan ‘Love it — or leave’ illustrates how difficult it is for Australian progressives to embrace outward displays of patriotism, lest they be stained by, or confused with, chest-beating hyper­masculinity or perceived exclusion of minority groups.

Patriotism is a dirty word. Indeed, hip-hop artist Matt Colwell not only labelled the Australian flag “racist” on the ABC’s Q&A, he said later: “The way those people have used the flag has so tarnished the flag for me personally that it stands for a sort of swastika symbol in my mind.”

American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt writes in The Righteous Mind that conservatives have a broader matrix of moral worlds than progressives, who are skewed towards caring for the weak and distributing wealth. He compiled a catalogue of six fundamental ideas that commonly undergird moral systems: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity.

When psychologists talk about authority, loyalty and sanctity, those who identify with the Left spurn these ideas as the seeds of racism, sexism and homophobia.

Two world wars left a deep scar on the European psyche, especially on the notion of nationalism, which was seen as causing the rise of fascist Italy and Germany.

This ambivalence spawned a belief that countries such as Britain should be a culturally blank canvas; that patriotism is an old fashioned trapping of empire and countries such as Britain could be shaped afresh with new cultures living side by side in unity.

While we may lack the imperial guilt, there can be little doubt this view is apparent in Australia, perhaps even more so given our relative youth and more malleable historical and cultural foundations.

Orwell made a clear distinction between nationalism and patriotism.

He qualified nationalism as “the worst enemy of peace”, the belief one’s country was sup­erior to others while patriotism was an attachment to and admiration of a nation’s way of life and “of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally”.

While Islamic terrorism is attractive to a very small proportion of the population, it highlights a weakness of liberal democracies in their lukewarm, sometimes conflicted promotion of a collective identity.

The gap for Islamists is filled by the fierce transnational identity that the Islamic notion of the ummah can build, a piety so strong they are prepared to sacrifice their lives. Macabre, evil and disgusting the actions may be, but the intensity of belief is in stark contrast to the relative apathy of mild-mannered secular atheists.

French philosopher Michel Onfray said in an interview last year on the topic of the decline of the West: “Who is ready to die for the values of the West or the values of the Enlightenment?”

Onfray questions the will of Westerners to fight for anything, believing we have been numbed by consumerism in a secular age that creates no attachment to God and country.

The strong patriotism of the US that integrates its extremely diverse population so successfully may explain why so few American-Muslims, as a proportion of the population, have gone to fight in Syria, compared with many thousands from Europe. The several hundred estimated to have travelled from Australia, as a percentage of our Muslim population, are many multiples greater than in America.

While an Australian republic is traditionally derided in conservative circles, there is a direct correlation with Tony Abbott’s Team Australia rhetoric and the intensification of patriotism a republic is likely to promote. It holds promise as a key plank in fostering a greater collective identity.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane championed a greater patriotism for the Left in his 2009 book Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives. The reaction to a harmless T-shirt promoting love of country suggests the task has a considerable way to go.


Australia to grant 500 work visas to Israelis

Israeli ambassador calls deal ‘a substantial and important reinforcement of bilateral relations’ 

Israel and Australia signed an agreement Wednesday according to which Canberra will grant 500 work visas per year to Israeli citizens who meet certain requirements.

“This agreement brings Israel in line with other countries that have a similar agreement with Australia,” Israeli ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben Shmuel said, according to the Israeli news outlet Ynet. “It is a substantial and important reinforcement of bilateral relations between the two countries, and will also enable our two peoples to strengthen their connection and learn about each other’s cultures, which will open the door for more partnerships in the future.”

Israeli citizens aged 18-30 who have completed either military or national service, among other criteria, will be eligible to work legally in Australia for up to one year.

Israelis suffer from a bad reputation in numerous countries worldwide, including Australia, for working illegally, in places such as Dead Sea product mall kiosks, and using aggressive sales tactics.

The egregious maneuvers utilized by the Israeli salespeople, coupled with the fact that many of them are working illegally, have roused the suspicions of the FBI, US Homeland Security, embassies around the world trying to combat labor fraud, and journalists who are uncovering questionable sales tactics.

Though Israelis can enter the European Union, Canada, or Australia without a visa interview, they are not allowed to work unless they get a special working holiday visa.


Friday, October 24, 2014

No apologies to Bob Carter?

When Carter first drew attention to the cessation of global warming after 1998, he was roundly abused, condemned and told he was wrong.  Now that even Warmists admit to what they call the "pause" in warming, is anybody apologizing to Carter and admitting that he was right after all?  Certainly no Warmists are

It was an Australian scientist, Bob Carter, who first drew attention to the flattening trend in an article in Britain’s The Telegraph in April 2006. Carter reviewed the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia for the years 1998 to 2005 and asked: “Does something not strike you as odd?”

Carter’s reward for identifying the lack of global warming was to have his professional reputation trashed. When Carter repeated his suggestion in the Australian press a year later, the CSIRO felt obliged to respond. Carter had presented “an unethical misrepresentation of the facts”, wrote Andrew Ash, acting director of the CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship. “All scientists welcome honest criticism since it helps to sharpen our analyses and improve our understanding, but scepticism based on half-truths and misrepresentation of facts is not helpful.”

ABC online’s The Drum refused to run his commentary. ABC Radio National’s science broadcaster Robyn Williams gave an open microphone to Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change communications director Bob Ward, who accused Carter of “desperately seeking bits of information to back up a ­theory”.

Political scientist Robert Manne said the likes of Carter, award-winning geologist Ian Plimer and former head of the National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology William Kininmonth “have to be resisted and indeed denounced” along with the “anti-political correctness and anti-collectivist ideologues, the right-wing media and the fossil fuel corporations”.

As recently as two years ago, former finance minister Nick Minchin was mocked on the ABC’s Q&A for suggesting that temperatures had plateaued. “There is a major problem with the warmist argument because we have had rising CO2 but we haven’t had the commensurate rise in temperature that the IPCC predicted,” he said.

“That’s just not true Nick,” responded Anna Rose, chairwoman of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

The University of NSW’s Matthew England joined in. “What Nick just said is actually not true. The IPCC projections of 1990 have borne out very accurately the projections now 22 years old.”

As it happens, it was true. The 1990 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report predicted temperature rises of 0.3C each decade. In fact, according to the latest report global temperatures have risen only 0.14C per decade since 1978.

In September last year a draft version of the fifth assessment report of the IPCC’s working group 1 that assesses the physical science of climate finally acknowledged the gap between computer projections and observed surface temperatures between 1998 and 2012. The IPCC was not so bold as to admit that its previous reports were wrong. It did accept, however, that there had been a “global mean surface temperature trend hiatus”, which amounts to the same thing.

If science worked as purely as Francis Bacon suggested it should, by the application of induction and observation, climate science would have moved on by now. Experts, however, are only human. Too many professional reputations have been invested in a fixed idea for it to be simply abandoned.

The heating has not stopped, we are told, it has simply “paused”. The word bristles with presumption. Despite their appalling track record in the past 20 years, climate scientists still believe they can predict how temperatures will move in the future.

“The ocean is absorbing huge amounts of heat energy and then will toss it back on us further along,” Dr Karl told Delroy.

Nobody suggested that temperatures should rise in a straight line, he said. “It’s much more complicated than that … there are so many factors involved, El Nino, La Nina, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, etc, that suggests that you need a 17-year window to able to look past the noise.

“And here they are saying we’re looking at a nine-year window and it looks sort of not as uppity as before. Well that’s easy, it’s not a 17-year window.” [Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is ignoring facts that even Warmists now admit -- the "pause" has gone on for 18 years]


A mixed up Syrian in Australia

She has been labelled everything from a government spy to a pro-Bashar al-Assad mouthpiece to a Kim Kardashian wannabe. But Syrian-Australian blogger Maram Susli, who goes by Mimi Al Laham or 'Syrian Girl', says she is just a patriot 'dedicated to the truth'.

Her YouTube channel has received more than 2.5 million views, where she posts videos such as 'Exposed: The "Assad backs Al-Qaeda" Myth' and 'If Syria Disarms Chemical Weapons We Lose The War'.

Born in Damascus in 1987 to what she describes as a middle class, professional family of the majority Muslim sect, Ms Susli moved to Australia when she was a child.

'My mother was a big fan of the series Neighbours during the early 90s and was convinced Australia would be just like it,' she said.

Ms Susli says she speaks out on social media because she is dismayed by watching her birth country being destroyed. She is critical of Syrian rebels, ISIS and the United States. She wants to see Syria's 'army strong' and its 'borders solid'.

'People are dying, and I have a duty as a human being and as someone of Syrian origin to expose the truth about why,' Ms Susli said.

'A duty to give a voice to those Syrians who have not been heard, who have rejected the instability caused by the US support of the extremist rebels.'

But along with her loyal followers come her many detractors who say she is a fame-hungry conspiracy theorist. Some of her more controversial assertions include that 9/11 was an 'inside job', that Ebola could be a US biological weapon and that chemical weapons are Syria's 'only hope'.

She says she was recently accused by one commentator of doing what she does because aspires to have 'Kim Kardashian fame'. 'Highly offensive when I do what I do because I'm watching the country of my birth destroyed before my eyes.'

Ms Susli believes that many don't take her seriously simply because she's a female talking about politics.  'You have to fight tooth and nail for respect and legitimacy that would have comes naturally if you were a middle-aged man in a suit and tie,' she said.

'But far worse are journalists who, because they disagree with my point of view, attack me with misogyny rather than argue against me with facts.

'They would rather abuse me with accusations of plastic surgery than discuss the content of what I'm saying.'

She is often described as being 'pro-Assad' – a label she rejects.  'One doesn't need to be pro-government to support their military against an external terror threat,' she said.

Ms Susli is currently studying a postgraduate degree in Australia after completing a science degree with a double major in biophysics and chemistry.

But she dedicates a large amount of time to blogging about her country of origin, which she has visited many times while living in Australia over the past two decades.

'Politics has been my passion even before the war in Syria, so it's logical that when war began in the country of my birth, which I visit often and where my extend family reside, I'd be even more passionate,' she said.

'When people I know have died, when others have had their lives turned upside down, when it's my family that I couldn't go back to say goodbye to on their death beds, how would I not become emotional about that?'


McCloy's challenge may derail NSW's political finance laws

Last week NSW Premier Mike Baird announced changes to the state's political finance laws. They amount only to an interim measure, with long term reforms to follow based upon the report of the government's expert panel on political donations chaired by Kerry Schott.

Looming over both is the constitutional challenge lodged in July by former Newcastle Mayor Jeff McCloy. His case has the potential not only to frustrate these changes, but to derail ICAC's ongoing investigation into developer donations and political corruption.

Evidence tendered before ICAC shows that McCloy is a property developer who has made a number of political donations. Indeed, he has said of the state's politicians: "They all come to see me for money, I feel like a walking ATM some days."

NSW electoral funding rules ban property developers from making political donations. As a result, McCloy faces the prospect of being found by ICAC to have engaged in "corrupt conduct".

Rather than await such a finding, he has launched a pre-emptive strike in the High Court. His argument is that the ban is invalid, and thus that there is no law in place to prevent him as a developer from making political donations. If he succeeds, the ICAC cases against him and the politicians who accepted such donations could unravel.

In recent weeks, McCloy has broadened his challenge. He has done so because his case overlooked another ground upon which he may have broken the election rules.

NSW law also made it an offence at the 2011 election to provide a political donation of more than $5,000 to a political party or $2,000 to a candidate. The evidence shows that McCloy breached this, and so he is now also asserting that the caps on political donations are unconstitutional.

McCloy's case is far from fanciful. In December 2013, the High Court unanimously struck down a NSW ban on political donations by corporations, unions, and any person not on the electoral roll. The challenge succeeded on the basis that the ban infringed the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of political communication.

There is no doubt that the developer donation ban also restricts freedom of political communication. The High Court said as much last year when it held that the freedom is burdened wherever a law restricts the sources of funds available to political parties and candidates to meet the costs of their political communication.

However, this is not enough to have the law struck down. The law will be saved if the NSW government can show that it is a proportionate response to addressing a legitimate purpose.

The ban on union and corporate donations failed this test because the Court found that it was not directed at preventing corruption, and indeed that it lacked any justifying purpose at all. By contrast, the ban on developer donations can be seen more readily as a measure aimed at stopping corruption. Certainly, the ban was introduced in response to scandals showing how developers can exert undue influence over politicians.

If the court accepts that the law has this purpose, it must then determine whether the law is proportionate to achieving this aim. This is harder to determine. The ban has a wide ambit, not only in applying to developers and their associates, but even to their spouses. The ban might also be seen as discriminatory because, along with the bans on donations from tobacco, liquor and gambling interests, it singles out particular donors, while leaving others untouched. All up, the likely outcome in the High Court is very difficult to predict.

If the developer donation ban is struck down, the scheme will need to be adjusted. The government might respond by lowering the general cap on donations so as to limit the influence developers or others might have.

A far greater problem would arise if the High Court also struck down the cap on political donations. This goes to the heart of how the scheme operates. If commercial and other interests are able to give unlimited amounts of money to parties and candidates, no scheme of political finance regulation can be effective.

Fortunately, this second argument will be far harder to sustain. The cap on donations restricts political communication, but it does so in a general, across-the-board way. Moreover, it does so in response to long-standing concerns about the possibility of large donations corrupting the political process. It seems very unlikely that it will be struck down.

With less than half a year to go to the next state election, it might have been expected that the rules governing political donations would be clear and certain. Instead, they are in a state of flux. Reforms have been proposed, but they are only interim measures, and even then they may be swept away by the High Court's pronouncement in the McCloy case.


Crackdown bid on hookah pipe cafes

Doctors and a coalition of public health groups have called for closure of a legal loophole that allows indoor shisha smoking in Victoria.

The Australian-Lebanese Medical Association joined the Heart Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, and Quit Victoria, in asking the Coalition and Labor to commit to banning the practice ahead of next month's state election.

Labor says it wouldn't support a ban because it could be unfair to our multicultural community.

Dr Walid Ahmar, a cardiologist and ALMA president, said shisha smoking, popular in cafes in parts of Melbourne, had wrongly been considered harmless.

He said in a one-hour session, users could inhale 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled in a single cigarette, increasing their risk of heart disease and a range of cancers.

"Water-pipe usage is associated with serious potential health hazards not only to the smoker but to those who are exposed to the smoke. It can cause a number of cancers, lung, stomach, oesophageal, oral cancer in addition to the development and progression of coronary artery disease.

"Given the well-known and documented impacts of second-hand smoking it is absolutely unacceptable to continue to expose staff and customers to this risk, because of a legislative oversight."

Dr Ahmar said shisha smoking is banned in restaurants in Lebanon, "yet it is still prevalent here" and in Turkey, TV ads warn of its harmful effects.

He called on all political parties "to show leadership to support and put the health of our community first and foremost in closing this loophole ahead of next month's state election".

In 2006, the state government banned smoking in enclosed workplaces. But the ban, using a definition in the Tobacco act of 1987, applied to consumption of tobacco product whose "main ingredient" was tobacco.

Because waterpipe tobacco consists of a mix of tobacco, molasses and flavourings, tobacco may not be the main ingredient. Molasses and fruit flavouring can account for up to 70 per cent of the mixture.

The lobbyists propose that the definition of "tobacco product" be amended to remove the term "main ingredient", and be defined as "tobacco, or a cigarette or cigar, or any other product containing tobacco and designed for human consumption or use".

Shadow Health Minister Gavin Jennings said Labor had implemented many reforms such as banning smoking in pubs, clubs and workplaces.

"But reform has to get the balance right. Banning shisha, particularly when it has no tobacco content, could unfairly affect parts of our multicultural community."

Cancer Council Victoria director of prevention Craig Sinclair said Victoria is "unfortunately the only state in the country that still allows such a practice to still continue".

He said given the "well-known and very well-documented health impacts of second-hand smoke", it was "unacceptable that this practice can continue, to expose both staff and customers to this risk because of what is clearly a legislative oversight".

But Rashid Freihat, owner of Arabesque Shisha Lounge and Cafe in Sydney Road, Coburg, said a ban would shut down his business.

Mr Freihat knows of 18 shisha businesses along Sydney Road. Smoking the hookah was a cultural and social practice. At his lounge, friends could gather to  watch soccer and eat tapas together. He doesn't serve alcohol.

He said shisha mix was "only about 10 to 15 per cent tobacco and the rest is flavoured fruit".

He hadn't been affected by second-hand smoke in three years working there, and the lounge had an exhaust system.

A spokesman for Health Minister David Davis said: "The Government's immediate priority will be implementing the announced ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas, but will examine the issue raised today."


Reebok fined for misleading customers about EasyTone sneakers

Reebok has been penalised $350,000 and ordered to issue refunds for misleading customers about its EasyTone shoe range, which it claimed for years would boost muscle tone of calves, thighs and derrières more than ordinary sneakers.

The sportswear company conceded in the Federal Court it made false and misleading claims about the benefits of wearing EasyTone sneakers and sandals on shoe boxes, swing tags, booklets and posters.

Reebok, without scientific evidence, claimed "balance pods built-in under the heel" and "balance ball-inspired technology with moving air" in EasyTone shoes would increase "muscle activation" of the buttocks by 28 per cent and of thighs and calves by 11 per cent.

The international advertising drive featured Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr who said: "I work out, do yoga and wear my EasyTone wherever I go so that know that I'm benefitting my body as I go about my daily routine".

The Federal Court found Reebok breached three sections of Australian Consumer Law and had no reasonable grounds to make such representations.

In an agreement reached with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which instigated the court action in December last year, Reebok will issue $35 refunds to customers, set up a hotline, publish corrective notices and start a compliance program.

The EasyTone shoe range has been on sale in Australia since late 2009, but the court action relates to promotional material from September 2011 and February 2013.

In September 2011, the United States arm of Reebok agreed to pay $US25 million in a settlement after the Federal Trade Commission claimed it was deceiving customers about the better legs promise.

Reebok Australia was aware of the US settlement but supplied 16,448 pairs of EasyTone shoes in boxes emblazoned with the false statements between September 2011 and May 2012.

In the 2012 financial year, Reebok raked in half a million dollars in revenue from the sales of Easytone shoes to retailers.

The ACCC first raised concerns with Reebok in August 2012, but it was not until May this year that the sporting goods maker admitted it was in the wrong.

"Where businesses claim their products have certain performance characteristics and benefits, they have a responsibility to ensure that those claims are accurate and supported by credible evidence," said ACCC's deputy chair, Delia Rickard.

"This is particularly important in cases such as this where it is difficult for consumers to independently verify the claims."

Reebok Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of sporting goods distributor True Alliance. Its brand manager Karl Pohlman told Fairfax Media that its customers were the first priority.

"We are happy to have resolved the ACCC's inquiry over our historical EasyTone advertising so that we can return our focus to inspiring people everywhere to be their absolute best," he said.

Retailers which flogged the EasyTone range include Myer, Sports Locker, Rebel Sport and Foot Locker.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Help wanted in Sydney boutique Alice’s Diary ... but only if you’re Korean

This article is just a beatup.  The Koreans obviously wanted someone who spoke good Korean, which is NOT illegal.  Their assumption that only a Korean would be able to speak good Korean was reasonable -- as Asian languages are very difficult for people originating from the other end of the Eurasian continent.  If you have ever heard Koreans trying to speak English, that will tell you how likely we are to speak good Korean

NON-Koreans need not apply.  That is the message from one central Sydney retailer that may have breached the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act with its “Korean speakers only” employment policy.

Fashion and beauty store Alice’s Diary in the heart of Koreatown, on Liverpool Street, is advertising for ­“Korean staff” at their World Square shop.

Two non-Korean Daily Telegraph staff members who tried to test their employment policy by inquiring about the job were turned away, one in less than two minutes.

The shop could be breaching the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, which makes it illegal for an employer to use race as a deciding factor in who should be offered a job.

Daily Telegraph reporter Ashlee Mullany visited the shop on Friday after they posted a “Korean Staff Wanted” sign in their window.

When Mullany asked a shop assistant in the store about the job she was asked: “Is she Korean?”  The reporter explained she was applying for the job, not a friend.

The shop assistant told her they needed someone who spoke Korean but didn’t bother to see if Mullany could speak the language.

“We have lots of Asian customers and, some of them, their English is worse than mine,” she said.

When Daily Telegraph staff member Rebecca Gredley inquired about the job, she was also asked if she spoke Korean or Chinese.

The shop assistant was surprised when Gredley said she spoke some Chinese and told her that she may be called for an interview which would be partially conducted in that language.

When she asked if they would employ someone with extensive retail skills but who spoke only English, Gredley was told “probably not”.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said he understood the shop needed staff who spoke the majority of their customers’ language but could be going too far.

“To ask job applicants for a particular language would be reasonable but if they are saying you have to be Korean, that would be a huge issue,” he said.

Anti-Discrimination Board president Dr Stepan Kerkyasharian said any business employing people of a particular race would breach the Act, except if they had applied for and had been granted an ­exemption.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane said it was unlawful to refuse someone employment because of their race, colour, ethnicity or national origin.

“It is also unlawful to treat any person seeking employment less favourably because of their race. There are exceptions for “special measures”,” Dr Soutphommasane said.

“It is unacceptable for any business to advertise for a position for employees with race as a criterion.

“No member of the Australian community is immune from the law. Everyone is entitled to equal treatment, regardless of their race or ethnic background.”

The Australian Human Rights Commission received 168 complaints about racial discrimination in the workplace in 2012-13.


Qantas worker files discrimination claim over crucifix ban

A FORMER Qantas employee has accused the airline of banning crucifixes while allowing Muslim women to wear head scarfs.

Georgina Sarikoudis claims the airline discriminated against the Christian faith by demanding she and others discard the religious insignia.

Mrs Sarikoudis, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, claims in tribunal documents she was subjected to “threats and ridicule” by managers who ordered her to cut off her prayer-knot bracelet and remove her necklace with a crucifix on it.

“The Qantas uniform policy allows for head scarfs by Muslim females but no allowance for the wearing of crucifixes, religious bracelets or other religious ... artefacts. Qantas staff have a religious belief other than Muslim,” Mrs Sarikoudis claims.

The Ormond woman, who says she wore a crucifix during 19 years at the airline, says she was confronted after Qantas changed its uniforms late last year.

The carrier’s staff dress code — which didn’t change — prohibits visible necklaces and bracelets, except for medical alert purposes.  Women are allowed to wear head scarfs for “cultural, religious and medical reasons”.

The former Melbourne Airport customer service agent claims she was “grilled” about her devotion to her beliefs, her reasons for wanting to wear religious symbols, and even how often she attended church.  She claims other staff — including a woman who wore rosary beads — were ordered to remove jewellery with Christian icons.

Mrs Sarikoudis, who accepted a redundancy offer earlier this year, said she refused to take off or hide the items of jewellery despite months of bullying.  “For Christians, this is our uniform. Everyone should be allowed to manifest their religion as they see fit,” Mrs Sarikoudis said.

In her claim before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Mrs Sarikoudis is demanding the airline change its uniform policy to allow “religious items of significance” to be worn, as well as an apology from her former employer.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the uniform standards didn’t ban religious jewellery worn under the uniform.  “Our uniform standards don’t prohibit employees from wearing religious jewellery,” the spokeswoman said.  “Many of our employees wear such jewellery every day, it’s simply worn under their uniform. [Are Muslim headscarves worn under the uniform too?]

“We give our employees plenty of options so they can continue to wear religious jewellery that is in accordance with the requirement of their faith.

“As with most airlines, employees are required to follow uniform rules and guidelines.  “There has been no change to our uniform standards in relation to religious jewellery since the introduction of the new uniform, but we have reminded employees of what the uniform standards are.”


'Real 20%': Abbott government reveals position on renewable energy target

The Abbott government is supporting a scaling back of the renewable energy target which they say will better reflect changes in demand for electricity.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on Wednesday revealed the government's long-awaited position on the target, which would reduce the amount of energy produced by renewable energy projects by 2020 from 41,000 gigawatt hours to about 26,000.

The position rejects the recommendations in the review of the target headed by businessman and climate change sceptic Dick Warburton.

The review, which cost the government more than $500,000, in August recommended Australia's RET be either closed to new projects or scaled back dramatically on the basis of yearly reviews.

But the government, which has been looking to restore a bipartisan agreement with Labor, faces a battle to negotiate its position through the parliament.

Labor has signalled it will reject the scale back proposed, which Mr Macfarlane said would constitute a so-called "real 20 per cent" of Australia's electricity production.

"It won't be a 27 per cent renewable energy target, it will be 20 per cent renewable energy target," Mr Macfarlane said.

Mr Macfarlane said the position put to Labor on Wednesday included exemptions for emissions intensives industries, including aluminium, copper, zinc and cement.

The small-scale solar panel scheme will remain untouched and biannual reviews of the target will cease.

The target legislated in 2009 set Australia's target at 41,000 gigawatt hours, which based on electricity demand at the time would have represented 20 per cent of the electricity produced in Australia in 2020.

But in recent years, electricity demand has collapsed, meaning the 41,000 gigawatt hour target is now closer to 27 per cent.

Labor is expected to reject the proposed RET reduction as too dramatic when it meets the government for talks on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier on Wednesday, Labor Leader Bill Shorten said the opposition had made it clear it was open to discussing the target but it had established "no-go zones".

"The government say they want a real 20 per cent, I call it a fraud 20 per cent, a fake 20 per cent. The truth of the matter is that renewable energy is part of our energy mix. It's had a great benefit for a whole lot of consumers," Mr Shorten said.

"We've seen thousands of jobs created...and we've seen billions of dollars of investment. The real damage that this government's doing in renewable energy cannot be overstated."

In the ideological tussle within the Coalition about climate policy, the position announced on Wednesday, while a compromise, represents a win for those in the cabinet, such as Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who favour greener policies.

But the renewable energy industry said the target as proposed would devastate the industry and jeopardise millions of dollars in investment.

Lane Crockett, general manager of PacificHydro, said: "What reason can there be [for this cut] other than to protect the coal industry?"

Andrew Bray, national coordinator of the Australian Wind Alliance, said the government had "learnt nothing" from the Warburton review, noting its own commissioned research pointed to electricity prices being lower over the longer term with the RET as it is.

"What the government has indicated today is that it wants to increase the massive profits of big power companies by charging everyday Australians more for their electricity," Mr Bray said.


Another university opts to kick Islamic fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir off campus

ISLAMIC fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir has been banned from speaking about its radical views at ­another Australian university.

The Australian National University (ANU) feared the organisation’s ­presence at a student-run forum on terrorism would turn into a “political discussion” about death cult Islamic State.

An ANU spokesman confirmed its academics had pulled out of last night’s forum because a Hizb ut-Tahrir ­representative was invited to speak without the university’s knowledge.

The forum — Rationality and Terror — organised on the Canberra campus by the university’s student newspaper “Woroni”, was then cancelled.

The ANU is the third major university to turn its back on the group, which supports a caliphate and sharia law.

It was also stopped from speaking at the Sydney Opera House in June where its spokesman Uthman Badar was going to deliver a speech titled “honour killings are morally justified”.

Last month Mr Badar was banned from speaking at the University of ­Sydney, on the anniversary of the ­September 11 terror attacks.

His appearance was advertised as a highlight of Islamic Awareness Week, run by the Sydney University Muslim Students’ Association.

There were concerns the “Grill a Muslim” event, organised without ­university approval, would have given the Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman a ­platform to spout its extremist views.

In August the University of Western Australia (UWA) vice-chancellor ordered Mr Badar to “give an explicit, written public assurance he is opposed to the cowardly and barbaric act of ­­so-called honour killings” before he spoke at a forum. After hesitation by Mr Badar, the UWA Islamic association cancelled his presentation.

Last night the ANU said it supported the decision of its academics to withdraw from the student-run forum. The students did not advise academics that they had invited Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Wassim Doureihi, to take part in the discussion until last week.

“The addition of Wassim Doureihi on the panel, changed the nature of the event from an open academic discussion into a political discussion about the actions of ISIS,” a spokesman said.

“It is clear the views of Wassim Doureihi do not meet the University’s standards.”


Taxi app goCatch teams rich-list backers to take on Cabcharge

On Friday, some of the country's most successful entrepreneurs and rich-list families backed an equity raising of taxi booking and payments app goCatch in the race to "break apart" the country's powerful $5.4 billion taxi industry.

Some of the backers of the business include billionaire family the Kahlbetzers, the Millner family, fund manager David Paradice, Malcolm Turnbull's son, Alex, and Square Peg, a technology venture capital firm backed by James Packer, Seek co-founder Paul Bassat and the billionaire Liberman family.

In a confidential presentation, goCatch's goal was simple: to capture a "dominant share" of the taxi market. It was a shot across the bow to incumbents. The company told investors: "goCatch is breaking apart the Cabcharge network model and redefining how the industry works."

It is big talk for a company that is still a minnow, valued at $19 million, compared with Cabcharge's market capitalisation of almost $600 million.

Its self-belief is coming from the emergence of disruptive smartphone technology and a loosening regulatory environment that began in 2012 when former competition tsar Allan Fels released a controversial report into the Victorian taxi industry.

The report put the spotlight on the many inefficiencies and arguably restrictive trade practices of the sector. More recently, the Harper review into competition called for reform.

Inspiration is also coming from the rise and rise of Uber, a US-based business that launched a phone app four years ago and now operates in 45 countries, including Australia. It is valued at more than $18 billion and Uber's Australian operations are valued at $728 million, according to the goCatch presentation.

goCatch co-founder and chief executive Ned Moorefield says that, when he was looking to start a business in 2011, he examined what kind of new business models were emerging with smartphones.

 "We then looked at the industries with monopolies and ones that didn't have good service levels, and we then started researching countries such as Germany, [and cities such as] London and San Francisco," Moorefield says.

The taxi industry was ripe for reform. "People were screaming out for change."

But the latest $4.5 million equity raising wasn't a pushover, taking three months to get away, with Moorefield and co-founder Andrew Campbell agreeing to a radical man­agement and board overhaul, including the departure of Campbell from the board and management.

In an October 14 investor update, it confirmed the appointment of Tim Fung to the board after the capital raising.

Fung is boss of Airtasker – an online business where people post tasks such as house cleaning at a set fee and workers respond to the job – and a director of venture capital group Tank Stream Ventures, which is backed by Markus Kahlbetzer.

The raising means a convertible note agreement with three investors, including Alex Turnbull and Washington H Soul ­Pattinson, will convert to shares instead of being redeemed. With tight cash flows, this would have put immense pressure on the company.

Instead it will have a beefed-up board, a simpler management structure and millions of dollars in cash to expand its business and take on incumbents such as Cabcharge.

For companies like Cabcharge, which for years has been clipping the ticket on most aspects of the sector, the old jig is almost up.

This year, the Victorian government introduced a 5 per cent cap on service fees charged for credit and debit cards and introduced legislation that includes slashing in half fees for processing card payments in taxis, as well as replacing the so-called limited-release perpetual taxi licences with annual licences. Cabcharge issued a statement to the ASX earlier this month flagging a similar move by the NSW government in December to cap service fees to 5 per cent.

It said the cap in Victoria reduced its service fee revenue by $4.5 million and it estimates the NSW cap will reduce revenue by $14 million. Total group revenue in 2014 was $197 million and profit was $56 million.

Its presentation was dominated by the challenges ahead. "With a changing environment, we need to refocus our business," the company said.

With 216 million taxi jobs a year, 280,000 registered passengers, 30,000 registered drivers and revenue of $5.4 billion a year, it is a compelling nut to crack. Even more compelling is that a whopping $2.8 billion of the revenue is generated from booked services, according to a report into the taxi industry by research house IBISWorld. The report says hire car and silver services, which make up 15 per cent of annual revenue, are becoming increasingly important.

The brutal reality is that the disruptive technology carries all the hallmarks of what happened in the media industry, the music industry, the book industry and some other traditional enterprises.

The IBISWorld report says: "Smartphones are increasingly changing the way industry participants relate to their customers. Features such as GPS enable both drivers and customers using apps to assess the number of options in their vicinity."

For taxi operators, it says smartphone apps may allow them to bypass networks altogether. "Apps such as goCatch allow ­customers to increase the likelihood of attracting service by bidding a tip, effectively subverting the supply-side dynamics of the industry."

In an industry that attracts more than its fair share of customer discontent, a rating system is invaluable.

Like goCatch, a plethora of start-ups are busily raising money as they vie for a slice of the traditional taxi industry pie.

Two weeks ago, UBS closed a $9 million equity raising for taxi payments start-up Ingogo, valuing it at $45 million. It follows the Google-backed Uber's global $1.2 billion raising to countries including Australia.

New models are emerging, such as the Sydney-based RideSurfing, which has circumvented the "network" by developing an app that uses a pool of private drivers and a suggested voluntary donation based on time and distance rather than an actual fare.

The traditional taxi industry is highly regulated. Taxis require a licence to operate. They also need to be affiliated with a network such as Yellow Cabs, Taxis Combined or Silver Service. Membership costs an estimated $700 a month for a service which includes taking bookings, then transmitting the details of the job to terminals installed in the taxis.

In more recent years, the networks have broadened their stranglehold by offering additional services to taxi operators and drivers, including safety, training, financial and leasing support, and electronic payment processing. This has further entrenched the networks.

The Fels report noted that the networks exerted too much control over the industry through "their cross-ownership of licences, fleets and electronic payment systems; their brokering of vehicle sales and taxi licensing; and their perceived close relationships with Cabcharge".

If the mandatory network system is ­dismantled, it will have a big impact on the incumbents.

Uber is causing an uproar as it moves into a new low-cost taxi market, UberX – a move which circumvents the network system. In January it hit headlines in France, when taxi drivers engaged in "guerrilla warfare" against Uber cars, slashing tyres and breaking windows.

In Italy, taxi drivers marched through the streets, calling on the government to ban the smart app that connects customers to the nearest hire car.

But the clock is ticking as start-ups pile into the industry to try to get an early advantage. In the meantime, the traditionalists should take heed of the mistakes of other industries and be part of the revolution, instead of building a fortress against it.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has a memoir about the recently deceased Gough Whitlam.  He is/was not a fan.

End of the road for Edward Gough Whitlam: aged 98

The memoir below is kind, as befits the dead but I think I should add a few comments here to balance the account.  It is not fully set out below WHY he was sacked as PM by Sir John Kerr  -- his own appointee as Governor General.  It was because Gough had brought on a constitutional crisis by attempting to govern without parliamentary consent, the consent of the Senate, in particular. That he  played fast and loose with parliament generally via the "Khemlani affair" was what motivated the Senate to refuse him supply. So Gough was hardly honourable.

One thing that has always amused me about the patrician Mr Whitlam is that he always used his second Christian name.  Being a common old "Eddy" was obviously not to his taste.

Although he was undoubtedly a most erudite man, Eddy had a strange and disastrous intellectual gap.  He himself admitted that he did not understand economics.  And the economic disasters under his regime were unending -- with inflation reaching 19% at one stage.

Somehow or other he did nonetheless manage one very worthwhile economic innovation:  He cut tariffs by 25% across the board. 

And as a libertarian  I have to applaud his ending of conscription.  The motive for that was however anti-military  -- as we can see from the fact that he also abolished Army cadets in the schools -- who were doing nobody any harm and were in fact a good influence on teenagers.  But Leftists resent any power but their own.  And his vaunted withdrawal of the troops from Vietnam was only the final stage of a withdrawal that was already almost complete.

His "free" universities did not last.  Fees were reimposed by the subsequent Labor party government of Bob Hawke, a man who DID understand economics.  And Malcolm Fraser reinstated the cadets.

And as for his free and universal medical care, you can judge the quality of that by the fact that 40% of Australians -- just about all who can afford it -- have PRIVATE medical insurance these days. Australia's "free" public hospitals are like such hospitals everywhere  -- only for the desperate or the optimists

Gough Whitlam remained one of Australia's most admired figures despite being the country's only prime minister to be sacked, a key moment in the nation's political history.

Mr Whitlam, who died on Tuesday aged 98, was a flamboyant and erudite war veteran who ushered in a series of important social reforms during just three years in power from 1972 to 1975.

His centre-left Labour government stopped conscription, introduced free university education, recognised communist China, pulled troops from Vietnam, abolished the death penalty for federal crimes and reduced the voting age to 18.

But Mr Whitlam will be best remembered for the events of November 11, 1975, when he became the nation's only leader to be dismissed by the representative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, governor-general Sir John Kerr.

Mr Whitlam's dismissal was prompted by a refusal by parliament's upper house, where his Labour Party did not hold a majority, to pass a budget bill until the government agreed to call a general election.

To end the impasse, the governor-general took the unprecedented step of sacking Mr Whitlam, installing Malcolm Fraser, then opposition leader, as caretaker prime minister.

Mr Freudenberg said it would never had occurred to his friend to fight Sir John's decision.  "The idea of going to barricades would have been inconceivable for a parliamentarian like Whitlam," he said.

"He believed deeply in the parliament as an institution for social reform and the expression of Australian democracy. He had a great love and respect for the parliament. The irony is that it was through the parliament he was destroyed."

David Burchell, of the University of Western Sydney, who has written widely about Australian politics, said it was ironic that the 1973 oil crisis, inflationary pressures and economic stagnation provided one of the worst times for Mr Whitlam's big-spending, socially reforming government to be in power. [The inflation and stagnation were CAUSED by Gough's free-spending and anti-business policies]

"Even though the government was dismissed, a lot of their policies remain popular," he added. "Few of the social reforms enacted were ever rolled back."


Burqa ban: Parliament backs down and makes extremists “smile”, according to Jacqui Lambie

BACKING down from the controversial decision to ban burqas in Parliament’s open public galleries will make Islamic extremists “smile”, according to Jacqui Lambie.

The Presiding officers this morning overturned their controversial decision to segregate people wearing head coverings behind enclosed glass in the chambers.

“The decision today to allow burqas and other forms of identity concealing items of dress to be worn in Australia’s Parliament will put a smile on the face of the overseas Islamic extremists and their supporters in Australia — who view the burqa or niqab as flags for extremism,” the Palmer United Party Senator said.

“To the Islamic extremists, today’s decision will prove how weak and indecisive we have become as a nation and how our PM lacks the courage of his convictions when it comes to Australia’s national security,” she added.

“Today’s decision will boost the extremists’ morale and encourage them to commit more atrocities and acts of violence against Australians — so that they can create a world where every woman is forced by their religious leaders’ law to wear a burqa or niqab.

“Today’s decision will also attack the morale of members of our ADF special forces, as they are about to deploy into Iraq.

“It comes at a time when all ADF members’ morale is at rock bottom after the government’s insulting wage offer. This decision will be like rubbing salt into the wound.”

Senator Lambie said she will proceed with a private members’ bill making it illegal to wear the burqa in public.


Mathias Cormann 'a d---head' for 'inappropriate' girly man reference says Labor's Brendan O'Connor

"Girl" is inappropriate but "dickhead" is appropriate?  Strange Leftist values

Labor frontbenchers have attacked Finance Minister Mathias Cormann over his use of the insult "economic girly man" against Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, with one accusing him of "sounding like a dickhead".

Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor said the joke was on Senator Cormann, who had been left looking like a "bit of a dill" in his attempt to get a headline.

"A Finance Minister of Australia doesn't have to sound like a dickhead if he wants to make a point " Mr O'Connor told Sky News.

A few breaths after swearing on television, the Labor frontbencher then rounded on the Finance Minister for his language.

"It's not the sort of language that a Finance Minister would normally be using. They'd be focusing on the significant decisions that are made in government," he said.

Penny Wong, Labor's leader in the Senate, said that being a girl should never be used as an insult.

"If we use 'girl' as an insult, what are we telling our sons and our daughters about being a girl? You are saying it is somehow less competent, weak, whatever the imputation," she said.

Senator Cormann refused to retreat from his comments for the second day in a row and said he had no regrets.

"I have used a terminology that has been previously used by somebody else, referencing a very well known expression used by somebody else," he said in Melbourne.

"It was a bit of humour to make a very serious point. And the serious point is that Bill Shorten is standing in the way of our government fixing the mess that the government that he was a part of left behind."

Asked about Mr O'Connor's "dickhead" insult, Senator Cormann said: "We live in a free world. He is of course entitled to his opinion."

The Belgian-born senator borrowed the political insult from actor-turned US politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, who used it to describe the opponents of George Bush snr during the 1988 presidential election, and revived the term in 2004, notably attacking Democrat opponents of his budget at the Republican National Convention.

At the weekend, some of the heat came out of Labor's attacks on Senator Cormann's use of the term after it emerged that an ALP senator has used the same term as a put-down.

According to Hansard, in September 2005, during a debate on the privatisation of Telstra, senator Ursula Stephens referred to Liberal MP Alby Schultz as having acted as a "telecommunications girly man".

This is not the first time Senator Cormann has channelled his inner Arnie. Senator Cormann ended his first speech to Parliament with The Terminator's most famous catch-phrase "I'll be back".

The Finance Minister attacked Mr Shorten during a weekend interview for not having delivered a surplus during its recent terms in government.

"The problem that the Labor Party has today is that Bill Shorten is an economic girly man. He doesn't have what it takes to repair the budget mess that they have left behind," Senator Cormann said on Saturday.


Is this man the kind of feminist women need?

Senior journalist Wendy Squires  has made the discovery that all men are not the same

I have a dear friend who is one of the strongest feminists I know. Yet, when I tell other women that former Footy Show host, Collingwood president and Channel 9 personality Eddie McGuire is that person, the reaction is disbelief.

He can't be! How could he be? It's a PR stunt. I am being conned. There's just no way ...

Now, I understand why some people may have that impression – Eddie does dwell in some blokey domains and some of his mates may not be as inclined, but the fact remains he is not just a committed feminist, but an active one. I know it because I have seen it.

He recently spearheaded the building of a women's change room at Collingwood's training facilities after noticing girls running around the Tan in the mornings had nowhere safe to shower and change. He is determined to find ways to help stem the epidemic of domestic violence in Australia and is tirelessly committed to numerous charities, many with women and children's welfare at their core. What's more, he speaks about the women in his life with respect and near-on reverence, something I know he is passionate about passing on to his two young boys.

He's a guy who gets bagged a lot in the press, but I wish others could see Eddie through my eyes – it would certainly open theirs. There is a lot more to the man than footy calls.

But this isn't about Eddie, this is about good men in general – men who do not want to be considered part of the patriarchy. Good men who read the same domestic violence stats – showing one in four Australian women will be abused by a male known to them in their lifetimes – and who want to do something about it. Good men who do not talk about their sexual conquests with their mates, reducing women to mere sperm receptacles. Men who believe in equal rights, equal pay, equal representation and who respect and value the effort that goes in to raising children.

It is to good men such as these I would like to hand on the baton of feminism because I, like so many women I know, am fatigued. I just don't know if I have the energy to run another lap, to espouse the same messages and urge on change yet again.

I feel we women have shouldered the heavy load for too long, because the reality is, if we really want change, it is men who are going to have to activate it. The next, and much-needed, wave of feminism has to be led by men if it is to succeed.

Think about it: If we want equal pay, it is up to the men who are running the business in Australia to insist on it. If we want more board positions, it is men who are going to have to elect us. If we want generational change, it is men who are going to have to instil respect for women in their sons. And if we want to stop domestic violence, it is men who are going to have to unclench their fists and stop hitting women.

For too long the notion of feminism has entailed women striving for change, with imagery and messages wrongly regarded as anti-men. But the fact is, we need men. We want men on board. We love men. We know they hold the majority of power and influence. The baton needs to be placed in their hands if we are ever going to change over the line.

And while I despair at the statistics, I also take solace that good men exist, strong men who view women as equals and want us represented as such.

Take, for example, some of Australia's top comedians I've had the recent pleasure of contacting on behalf of a fund-raiser I'm helping put together on November 13 to support St Kilda Gatehouse, an organisation that gives street-based sex workers the dignity of a safe place.

Imagine how many charity requests these men receive, yet within 24 hours of contacting Lawrence Mooney, Greg Fleet, Adam Zwar, Mick Molloy and Rhys Muldoon, all replied with an enthusiastic yes to offering their time and talent, with most thanking me for the opportunity.

Good men, all of them, only too willing to take up the baton for their sisters. Not just to talk the talk, but walk the walk.

It is men like this I believe should be celebrated and I don't care who knocks me for it. It is too easy to write off good men; to think that because they are masculine they lack a feminine side, that because the power lies in their hands they need to hold on to it. That you can't be a great bloke, a man's man, and still respect the gender that enable their very existence.

I'll put my hand up and admit it:  I was one who would write off men too quickly; to judge them by their footy colours, their burly builds or their limited emotional vocabulary. But I've discovered that big hearts beat in broad chests, bless 'em.

At a time when abortion rights are once again on the public agenda, and many women are actively (and in my view, ignorantly) spurning feminism, or burnt out and brow beaten from fighting the fight, it is the knowledge that good men exist and are willing to take up the slack that restores my faith.

Let's respect, cherish and encourage them, as they do us.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

African brutes traumatize SA police

Isn't it wonderful how many "refugees" we let into Australia?

A POLICE officer who was stabbed so forcefully that the knife tip had to be surgically removed after an unprovoked attack by three men will likely quit the force, a court had heard.

Yohana Nyawenda, 21, Patrick Nyandwi, 22, both of Davoren Park and Paul Kabura, 26, of Parafield Gardens, have all pleaded guilty to multiple aggravated counts of causing harm with intent over the incident in September 2013.

The District Court today heard that Nyandwi was assaulting his partner, who had a newborn strapped to her back, when neighbours approached and tried to calm him down.

Prosecutor Kelly Smith said that instead of backing off, the men then assaulted a male neighbour by punching him several times in the face and twisting his testicles, causing him to be hospitalised, and then Nyandwi punched another female neighbour in the stomach.

She said that, when police officers Barry Purnell and Stephen Page arrived, Nyawenda got a knife from the house while the other men attacked.

“The knife used by the accused Yohana Nyawenda was thrust with enough force to cause the tip of the blade to break off while the blade was still inside officer Purnell’s cheek,” she said.

She said the blade would later need to be surgically removed from Constable Purnell’s face.

Ms Smith said both officers were also punched and bitten during the assault while Kabura tried to grab Constable Page’s gun from his holster.

In his victim impact statement read to the court today, Constable Purnell said he was still suffering from complications with his jaw over the attack and was advised by a doctor last week it was only going to get worse.

“The incident was over a year ago but my recollection is as clear as it was that night,” he said.

Constable Purnell said the ongoing trauma had forced him to consider abandoning his duties with SA Police and return to Ireland after immigrating to Australia in search of a better life.

The incident took place six months after Kieran David Cregan had doused another officer, Senior Constable Matthew Hill, and tried to set him alight at Camden.

Constable Purcell’s fiancee, Leone Magu, told the court she had became anxious whenever he went to work.

“I am nervous about staying in Australia as I fear everyday he leaves for work he will encounter the characters that he fought with on that night,” she said.

Constable Page, who was badly bitten during the assault while Kabura tried to take his gun, said he had undergone blood tests and had to wait more than three months to be told he had not contracted HIV or hepatitis.

His wife, Anita Page, told the court she now also fears her husband will be killed at work.

“I’m angry because those men thought it was OK to attack my husband for no reason,” she said.

“I ask myself everyday, what if he (Kabura) had been successful, what would he have done with that firearm?”

Lawyers for the men told the court their clients all suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from horrific childhoods in the African nation of Burundi.

The court heard that all three had seen family members murdered during brutal civil wars.

A psychologist report on Nyawenda tendered to the court said his past had left him vulnerable to “exaggerated and aggressive responses when he feels his family is being threatened”.

Judge Michael Boylan remanded the men in custody to be sentenced next week.


Big dam building programme

The Greenies will be livid

PLANS  for the biggest dam-building and irrigation program in decades will be unveiled today in a major policy blueprint for the ­future of the nation’s agricultural sector that identifies 27 water projects for potential commonwealth investment.

The agricultural competitiveness green paper will outline a ­nation-building agenda that contemplates dam expansions, infrastructure development and greater access to ports.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce will declare the government is moving to reinvigorate the dam-building agenda, arguing that it must recapture the vision and purpose of the post-war Snowy Mountains Scheme.

“Water is wealth and stored water is a bank,’’ Mr Joyce will say. “Sometimes the biggest impediment to our nation returning to the vision and purpose that built the Snowy Mountains Scheme is ourselves ably assisted by the ­caveats of sacred invertebrates, amphibians and molluscs.

“Chaffey Dam (in NSW) was almost stopped by the booroolong frog, Nathan Dam (in Queensland) was stopped by the boggo­moss snail, yet Lake Argyle (in Western Australia) created two RAMSAR wetlands that would prevent us getting rid of that dam, not that we want to.’’

The last major greenfields dam completed in Australia was the Wyarolong Dam in southeast Queensland, finished in 2011.

The pace of dam development has slowed significantly across the ­nation since the 1980s amid increasing opposition from envir­onmentalists to new projects.

The green paper identifies six irrigation projects in Tasmania and Victoria that could be considered for federal government ­investment within a year.

Five of these are Tasmanian ­irrigation projects — Southern Highlands, Scottsdale, Circular Head, Swan Valley and North Esk — and the sixth is the southern pipeline project in the Macalister irrigation district in Victoria’s Gippsland.

Four projects — the Emu Swamp dam on the Severn River near Stanthorpe in Queensland, an expansion of the Nathan Dam on the Dawson River in Queensland, the Wellington Dam ­Revival Project in Western Australia and the Lindenow Valley Water Security Project on the Mitchell River in Victoria — are identified as potential candidates for federal funding, pending further investigation.

Another 17 projects are flagged as likely to be suitable for further consideration for assistance to ­accelerate feasibility studies, cost-benefit analysis or design.

These include the water infrastructure components of stage three of the Ord irrigation scheme in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Four projects in NSW have been identified, including an ­enlargement of the Lostock Dam in NSW’s Hunter Valley, Apsley Dam at Walcha, the Mole River Dam in northern NSW and ­Needles Gap on the central ­tablelands.

A string of major water projects have been identified in north Queensland: the Burdekin Falls Dam expansion; the Fitzroy Agricultural Corridor; the Mitchell River system; Nullinga Dam near Cairns; and Urannah Dam near Collinsville.

Further study is slated for a north Queensland irrigated agriculture strategy around the Flinders and Gilbert river catchments. In South Australia, upgrades to dams in the Clare Valley and the use of waste water in the northern Adelaide plains are under consideration.

While emphasising not every project will get federal funding or go ahead, Mr Joyce says the government’s dams program has ­already started. “In the last month we have started the construction of the Chaffey Dam upgrade (in NSW) and allocated $15.9 million for the continuation of the piping and capping of the Great Artesian bores,” he says.

Mr Joyce will say the nation must drive down transport costs to make the rural sector more ­effective and leverage the mining sector’s common interest in requiring water and the movement of bulk commodities. He will highlight the government’s $300m to start the inland rail line between Melbourne and Brisbane and say he hopes it is later ­extended to Gladstone.

“We must work with the mining industry to see the transport capital and water capital built that is in both our interests as bulk commodity producers and users,’’ he will tell the National Farmers Federation congress in Canberra today.

The green paper will argue that improving access to reliable water supplies and better managing existing water resources is ­essential for the continued growth of the agricultural sector.

Water resources in northern Australia are less developed than in the south, meaning opportunities exist for strategic developments to support the development of water-dependent industries. About 65 per cent of Australia’s run-off occurs in far north Australia and coastal Queensland, and only 6.8 per cent in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Declaring farming and “primary and overwhelming ownership” of farms by Australians to be a national good, Mr Joyce will argue that if the nation wants to increase its agricultural output, it must motivate and send the right signals to make people want to do that.

This will involve cheaper and more effective ways of getting products to market.

The paper will argue that while a market solution is preferable, monopolies and oligopolies must be closely monitored and a fair return to the landholder is essential to the future of the industry.

The paper will back the controversial “effects test’’ supported by the chairman of the government’s competition review, Ian Harper.

Mr Harper, in his interim ­review, backed an effects test that would prohibit business and trading conduct that would have the effect of substantially lessening competition.

The 27 water projects listed in the green paper were identified after Mr Joyce chaired a ministerial working group to identity how investment in water infrastructure, such as dams and groundwater storage, could be ­accelerated and to identify priorities for investment. Tony Abbott put dam building on the national agenda prior to the last election, at the height of the Queensland floods in 2011.

The green paper will argue that government involvement in water infrastructure development should be directed to activities that are in the national interest, deliver net economic and social benefits, and broader public benefits. But given the states and territories have primary responsibility for water resources, strong state government support for a project is also a prerequisite.


Private views create no public harm

THE Barry Spurr affair is terrifying in the shoddy treatment of Spurr; in what it says about our universities; and in the lack of outrage that either has evoked.

What is certain is that there was a gross invasion of Spurr’s privacy. To that must be added the likelihood that his emails were obtained illegally and used when it was known, or should have been known, that that is how they had been obtained.

Moreover, that use was by a publication, New Matilda, that had only recently committed the same offence; and whose journalists hypocritically denounced the wrongdoing at the News of the World and, since then, have attacked the government’s metadata proposals, with all their checks and balances, as an assault on privacy.

Of course, one expects nothing better from Wendy Bacon, who demands a moral right to invade the private emails of others without providing public access to her own. But it is disappointing that Bill Shorten, who repeatedly invoked the presumption of innocence to shield Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper, failed to show the same concern for Spurr.

And it is a scandal that the University of Sydney has suspended Spurr despite there being no claim, much less evidence, that his teaching, supervision and research have been anything but exemplary.

To make matters worse, the university has set aside Spurr’s explanation that the emails were parodies without according Spurr the prior opportunity to have that explanation tested. Whatever one may think of his emails, that explanation is scarcely implausible: parodies, satires and burlesques, often in poor taste, have peppered the correspondence of literary figures since time immemorial.

Indeed, some of the English language’s earliest comedies were private communications making fun of religious services in terms then considered blasphemous. And one does not need to dig deep in our language’s treasure chest to savour such politically incorrect gems as Paul Dehm’s parody of Robert Herrick (‘‘Whereas in jeans my Julia crams/her vasty hips and … diaphragms’’); Cyril Connolly dispatching James Bond in drag to seduce General Apraxin (‘‘one of those’’, warns M, listing the general’s hobbies as nerve gas, germ warfare and sodomy); or Alan Bennett’s brilliant spoof of James Buchan (in which Hannay decries the possibility of ‘‘a div­orced woman on the throne of the house of Windsor’’ as a ‘‘feather in the cap of that bunch of rootless intellectuals, Jews and pederasts who call themselves the Labour Party’’).

It scarcely takes much imagination to think a professor of poet­ics might similarly revel in using off-colour, if not frankly offensive, language in intimate communic­ation. But assume Spurr’s claim is a sham; that far from being banter between old friends, the emails reflected his innermost views. So long as those views do not intrude on the way he exercises his academic responsibilities, they are no more relevant to his role than the fact that TS Elliot (on whom Spurr is a world authority) was an anti-Semite.

To believe otherwise is to discard the distinction between vice and crime that is at the heart of a free society. Aquinas, although no liberal, put it well when he argued that rather than forcing men to be virtuous, laws exist to enforce the rules of justice; they should therefore not condemn mere vice but conduct ‘‘without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained’’.

Locke then made that distinction central to the philosophy of liberty, when he noted that ‘‘many things are sins which no man ever said were to be punished’’, for while objectionable, they were neither ‘‘prejudicial to other men’s rights, nor break the public peace’’. And Adam Smith, in terms familiar to JS Mill, emphasised that it was therefore crucial to ‘‘carefully distinguish what is only blamable from what force may be employed to punish or prevent’’.

In other words, Spurr is entitled to his private vices, even if repre­hensible, so long as they do not inflict public harms. Instead, the real question is how Australia’s oldest university could believe otherwise.

At the most immediate level, the answer lies in what Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a great scholar and long-time Democratic senator for New York, diagnosed as the ‘‘authoritarian Left’’ spreading throughout academe. Ignorant, intolerant and incapable of contesting ideas, its only weapon is the ad hominem attack.

Sydney’s conduct, coming after the ANU’s witch-hunt against fossil fuels, is a disturbing sign of how far the spread Moynihan feared has gone. The university’s support of Jake Lynch’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, whose anti-Zionism verges on anti-Semitism, only leavens with hypocrisy its disregard for justice.

But there are also deeper forces at work. Historically, intellectual elites had every interest in freedom of expression: no matter how strongly they favoured regulating other markets, they gained from freedom in their own. Now, reduced to mere wards of the state, they clamour for restrictions on competition that enforce conformity, protect mediocrity and entrench their claim on the public purse. And they find in the similarly placed ABC, as well as in publications such as New Matilda, plenty of fellow travellers to speak on their behalf.

Set against that milieu, Spurr stood no chance. By collaborating in the Abbott government’s review of the national curriculum he signed his own death warrant. From that moment on, it was only a matter of time before he paid the price.

None of that is to give Spurr the seal of approval. He may, for all I know, hold beliefs I find abhorrent. But universities need scholars, not saints; and if integrity, in Rawls’s words, means ‘‘defending the principles of morality even when to one’s disadvantage’’, his treatment is not merely a shame: it is a disgrace.

Reversing it should be an oblig­ation, as well as a priority.


Union corruption:  Do no work, still get paid

WHISTLEBLOWER Kathy Jackson made a secret deal with the now jailed fraudster Michael Williamson to pay $240,000 over two years to one of her union allies — with a requirement that the recipient of the money do no work.

Under the confidential arrangement, Jackson ally and friend Jamie Martorana agreed to resign from his position as assistant divisional secretary of the Health Services Union in October 2010.

For the next two years, however, he remained on the union’s payroll, with pay-as-you-go tax deducted from his gross weekly “wages” of $2307.69 as though he was still a regular full-time employee turning up for work.

Details of the arrangement have emerged in Federal Court proceedings as union opponents of Mr Martorana try to block his attempt to take over the HSU’s Victorian No 1 branch by challenging his eligibility to contest looming elections.

The 2010 deal for Mr Martorana is the latest and possibly most extraordinary of confidential fin­ancial arrangements uncovered during an investigation by lawyers for the HSU’s current leadership into a merger that year between Ms Jackson’s and Williamson’s union branches when they formed a joint entity called HSU East.

Along with other side-deals reached by Ms Jackson and Williamson around this time, it shows how tightknit the pair was in forging lucrative one-on-one arrangements for allies and friends before Ms Jackson turned on Williamson, now serving five years in jail after pleading guilty to large-scale fraud.

It appears Ms Jackson and Williamson made these arrangements — using union funds — without authority from other officials. They remained confidential until later exposed.

Ms Jackson has been praised as “heroic” by Tony Abbott and others for exposing Williamson, but the outspoken whistleblower is now battling allegations that she, too, misused large sums of HSU funds.

Earlier this month, HSU lawyers lodged a claim against Ms Jackson in the Federal Court for more than $660,000 that the union wants repaid after she allegedly used this amount from union credit cards, cash cheques and general accounts for personal expenses — but never repaid the money.

The $660,000 demand is on top of an existing court claim to ­recover $1 million that the union alleges Ms Jackson was not authorised to spend.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Mr Martorana, who co-signed a deed of agreement with Ms Jackson and Williamson in October 2010 after “differences” arose about whether his position should continue — just five months after he started in his new role as assistant divisional secretary.

In return for receiving $240,000, Mr Martorana was required to not represent any member of the union for two years. Nor was he permitted to work for any entity competing with the HSU. His name appeared on weekly pay documents with union employees for a further two years — although he did not show up.

Mr Martorana was an assistant secretary of the HSU branch No 1 in Victoria in May 2010, then headed by Jackson-supporter Marco Bolano, when this branch merged with Ms Jackson’s and Williamson’s branches to become HSU East.

It appears Mr Martorana was a victim of the merger leaving too many officials competing for a smaller pool of senior positions — five months after serving as “assistant divisional secretary” of the now disbanded HSU East.

The Jackson-Williamson leadership duo did not offer Mr Martorana a redundancy — with a transparent termination, a different tax treatment and considerably less than two years’ pay, considering his short length of ­service — or simply secure his ­resignation. Instead, the leadership pair created the highly unusual $240,000 payment deal in which Mr Martorana received a salary for not showing up.

He was not available for comment yesterday but he has told others of his belief that the payment was fair in the circumstances of his departure from the HSU.

The Australian revealed in Aug­ust that Ms Jackson signed another such deal with Williamson on March 3, 2010, to put Melbourne barrister and longtime friend David Langmead on a $150,000-a-year retainer as a legal adviser for eight years in the newly formed HSU East branch.

Under Mr Langmead’s retainer, which was paid monthly, he charged $2700 a day, and $385 an hour for legal advice. He was to bill the union for extra services if the annual sum exceeded $150,000. Mr Langmead, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, previously had a long association with Ms Jackson from 1996 to 2010 as a barrister retained for her branch.

His services included legal advice on a $250,000 payment to Ms Jackson’s HSU No 3 branch by the Peter MacCallum cancer hospital in Melbourne after a confidential settlement over workers’ backpay in late 2003.

Mr Langmead’s wife, Beth Jensen, another close Jackson friend, was used by Ms Jackson and Williamson as a consultant around the time of the union merger for a report that recommended big pay rises for them and other officials based on linking their salaries to the senior executive service of the NSW Public Service.

Another Jackson ally and friend, Rob Elliott, scored a $150,000-a-year consultancy deal with the HSU, signed by Ms Jackson and Williamson just a week before the Langmead deal. This arrangement was shorter than the Langmead agreement but similar.

The Australian reported late last month that Ms Jackson also collaborated with Williamson to “retrospectively authorise” the suspected misuse of union credit cards by now convicted former HSU official and federal Labor MP Craig Thomson in March 2008 — despite Ms Jackson later taking credit for ordering an exit audit of Thomson’s dealings.

Mr Martorana is a former hospital orderly whose late mother worked for Labor senator Stephen Conroy and whose stepfather, Peter Clelland, was a federal Labor MP.

The current HSU No 1 branch leadership team, headed by Bill Shorten ally Diana Asmar, is now challenging Mr Martorana’s eligibility to run in coming elections.


Palmer in real trouble

Two Chinese companies suing federal MP Clive Palmer have a genuine dispute against him, a judge says.

Subsidiaries of Chinese government-owned company CITIC Pacific are suing Mr Palmer and his company Cosmo Developments over claims $12.167 million was misappropriated by the MP's company Mineralogy.

CITIC Pacific subsidiaries Sino Iron and Korean Steel claim money deposited in an administrative fund and intended for the day-to-day running costs of a West Australian port was redirected to Cosmo Developments ($10 million) and Brisbane advertising firm Media Circus Network ($2.167 million).

Lawyers for Mr Palmer applied to strike out or permanently stay the Chinese companies' claim for compensation, claiming their wasn't reasonable grounds for the legal action.

But Justice David Jackson on Monday dismissed the application, meaning the matter will proceed to a three-day trial beginning on November 26.

Justice Jackson said one of the arguments used in the application was that the case was brought on a "feigned issue" and was really about "showing up" the defendants.

However, in his written judgment published on Monday, Justice Jackson rejected the argument.

"In my view, there is nothing fictitious about the causes of action pleaded in the claim and the statement of claim filed by the plaintiffs in the present case," he wrote.

The trial will determine whether payments made to Cosmo Developments and Media Circus Network formed a breach of trust and whether CITIC Pacific's subsidiaries are owed compensation.

A CITIC spokesman said on Monday: "We welcome the court's decision and now look forward to having this matter progress to trial."