Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sydney ANZAC day march led by a hero of heroes

Trooper Donaldson VC on the right above. He was awarded the VC for his actions when his patrol was ambushed in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan, on September 2, 2008. In this action, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from wounded soldiers. "This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety," the citation says.

AUSTRALIA'S only serving Victoria Cross holder, Mark Donaldson, made it crystal clear where his heart lay yesterday at Sydney's wintry dawn service-- with his mates, back in Afghanistan.

But Trooper Donaldson faces similar problems to those experienced 40 years ago by our other living VC recipient, Keith Payne: he's an action hero whom the Australian Defence Force wants to keep from harm's way.

Trooper Donaldson, 31, like past VC holders, is living with the brass's reluctance to put such a prized target for the enemy in the field. "I took a moment this morning at the dawn service to pay my respects to those guys over there," Trooper Donaldson said of his comrades still in Afghanistan, where he won the VC in 2008.

"I'm sure they are worried about the job they are doing at the moment. They are probably taking a moment to reflect and respect and say thankyou and then just getting on with the job at hand." After attending the dawn service at the cold and wet Cenotaph in Martin Place, Trooper Donaldson took pride of place at the head of the march that wound through the city, cheered on by tens of thousands. It was a heart-swelling experience, he said.

"I would encourage everyone, if they are still serving today to come in and march. It's a pretty special thing." He went on to toss the coin in the Anzac Day rugby league clash at the Sydney Football Stadium between the Roosters and St George.

The defence establishment also wrapped Mr Payne in cotton wool after he was awarded the VC in Vietnam in 1969, posting him to the Royal Military College, Duntroon, as instructor, rather than meet his request to return to unit. But after leaving the army in 1975, Mr Payne continued to press the army to let him visit soldiers on active duty.

He was finally given permission to participate in last year's Anzac Day service at Tarin Kowt, in Afghanistan's south, where the bulk of Australia's forces are stationed. Most recently, Mr Payne harnessed his star power to campaign for a new Aboriginal War Memorial at Cape York, which he unveiled in Weipa yesterday.

Trooper Donaldson's superiors have kept the door open for his return to duty but there are risks to sending such a prominent figure back to the frontline.

"We've been careful to ensure this can be managed without compromise to Mark's safety," a Defence spokeswoman said. "Any decision Defence makes in relation to the deployment of Trooper Donaldson will be made with great consideration, and take into account the safety of all those on deployment."


Koran caution for Australian tax laws

From what I can gather, Sharia compliant lending treats interest as capital, which would be illegitimate under existing Australian tax law. I can foresee some juicy evasion schemes coming up if that rule is relaxed

AUSTRALIA will check our tax laws to ensure they don't offend the Koran and prevent our access to the $1 trillion Islamic financial market.

The toughest restrictions are linked to Islamic law, or Sharia, which prohibits the payment of interest, known as riba, and bar investment in gambling and alcohol products.

However, the most complex issue relates to finding compatibility between Western tax systems, which concentrate on the details of a transaction, and Islamic "instruments' which looks at the "economic substance” and can have another outcome.

At stake is the vast network of the Islamic banking and insurance market worth almost $1 trillion and calculated to soon expand to reach $5 trillion.

"Accessing this major source of capital could assist Australian businesses to diversify their funding base in the future,” Corporate Law Minister Chris Bowen said.

Assistant Treasurer Nick Sherry yesterday announced the launch of the tax law review during a visit to the United Arab Emirates.

"This is not about special treatment or concessions for Islamic finance or its providers, but about ensuring that our system doesn't unfairly disadvantage or preclude such instruments and, in doing so, deprive Australia of capital, jobs and growth,” Senator Sherry said.

"Islamic finance is a rapidly growing part of the global financial system and Australia is in an excellent position capitalise on that growth, but we have to identify if our tax system doesn't unnecessarily prevent that from happening.”

The review will be conducted by the Board of Taxation.


Warmist laws postponed

Labor's thwarted emissions trading scheme has become an inconvenience for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the federal opposition says.

The government has shelved plans to push ahead with plans to begin operating its carbon pollution reduction scheme by July 2011, The Sydney Morning Herald said today.

The scheme will not start before 2013 at the earliest following a decision by cabinet's priorities and budget committee, the newspaper said.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong would not confirm the report. "The blocking of the CPRS legislation by the opposition has caused delays and created uncertainties which will of course affect the budget treatment of the CPRS," a spokeswoman for the minister told AAP. "The government remains committed to the CPRS as the best and lowest cost way to reduce carbon pollution."

Small Business Minister Craig Emerson also refused to confirm the report, saying it was the Coalition that was thwarting efforts to address climate change. "We will take the climate change issues to the next election and the people will have another opportunity to determine their position," he told Sky News. "I know what position they will adopt, and that is that their must be decisive action on climate change."

Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt said the decision would save the government $2.5 billion, and was contrary to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's past claim that climate change was "the greatest moral challenge of our generation". "Now it is an inconvenience for him," Mr Hunt told ABC Radio.

The decision means the government is likely to take its ETS legislation off the table until after an election, expected later this year.

It also means Labor will not use its latest legislation as a double-dissolution trigger, nor its original bills twice rejected by the upper house last year. The Senate was expected to vote on the legislation when parliament resumes sitting in May.

"The Prime Minister clearly has no commitment to climate change," Mr Hunt said, adding the ETS was a tool to get Mr Rudd through an election. "And he's dropped it the moment it's become inconvenient."

Non-government senators have thwarted Labor's bid to win parliamentary approval for its scheme.

The opposition backed away from supporting amended legislation that a Malcolm Turnbull led Coalition negotiated with Labor late last year. Now under Tony Abbott, the Coalition is pushing what it calls "direct action" to address climate change.

"The Prime Minister is not willing to take his emissions trading scheme to the electorate, to the election because he didn't want to put it up against the idea of direct action to reduce emissions," Mr Hunt said.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said he had not seen the Senate program for the coming weeks, but believed there was little hope for the scheme with the Coalition and Australian Greens both opposed to it.

It was disappointing if it had been shelved, but there were other issues to think about ahead of the election, he said. "There are plenty of issues around," he told ABC Radio on Tuesday. "The issue of healthcare is going to occupy a lot of people's minds, I might also say, so is the question of economic management.

"We've come out of this global financial crisis in a stronger position than most economies, they are the type of issues that are going to be in people's minds. "Even if we don't get a price on carbon there's still a lot to be done."

Mr Ferguson said energy efficiency and new technologies were still government priorities.

The latest development comes as a poll showed trust in Mr Rudd to manage climate change had dropped to 36 per cent. The result in the Auspoll survey was a fall from 46 per cent in February 2009.

Advocacy group GetUp!, which commissioned the poll in conjunction with the Climate Institute and four other non-profit groups, says the result reflects voter frustration with stalling climate change action.

However, 35 per cent of voters would be more likely to vote for the Rudd government if it took stronger action on climate change, and only 16 per cent would be less likely.

Mr Rudd, as late as last week, was maintaining support for an ETS. "Our policy hasn't changed," he told The Sydney Morning Herald. "We maintain our position that this is part of the most efficient and the most effective means by which we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions with least cost to the economy."


Conservatives claim cost of housing 4200 asylum seekers has topped $344m

THE arrival of another boat carrying of asylum seekers has set a record for the number of arrivals in one financial year - and the Federal Opposition is demanding to know how much it's costing taxpayers.

A boat with 49 suspected asylum seekers and two crew was intercepted north-north-west of Ashmore Islands on Sunday night, the 114th to arrive since the Rudd Government softened John Howard's border regime. This took the number of people in 2009-10 to 4210, the highest in a financial year, with two months to go.

Opposition immigration and citizenship spokesman Scott Morrison said the number eclipsed the 4175 in 1999-2000 and the 4137 in 2000-01. "To paraphrase Kevin Rudd, he had a gold medal year on boat arrivals in 2009-10," Mr Morrison said.

Mr Howard still holds the record for the most number of boat arrivals in a calendar year - 5516 in 2001. That may be broken, with the rate of boat arrivals this year exceeding the pre-Tampa Howard era.

A spokesman for the Immigration Department yesterday said 2063 asylum seekers were housed on Christmas Island, which will rise to 2114. Christmas Island's capacity is 2040, with 400 extra beds still weeks from being ready after bad weather stalled work.

The Federal Opposition is demanding Mr Rudd and Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Evans admit what it's costing the Government to house the influx. "Figures obtained from Senate Estimates earlier this year revealed when the Rudd Government prepared the 2009-10 budget they believed only 200 people would arrive," Mr Morrison said.

"In November last year Senator Evans asked for an [extra] $134 million to cover 1400 arrivals, with each arrival costing $81,900. "With this year's arrivals now at 4210 we can expect an additional bill of more than $200 million, based on the figures previously provided by the Immigration Department."

He said Senator Evans should release a statement of the increased costs of flights between Christmas Island and the mainland. "The Minister must also detail new costs such as reopening the Curtin detention centre and increased operational costs at the other detention centres around Australia . . . taking the spillover from Christmas Island."

On Friday another boat en route to Australia, containing 75 Sri Lankans, was stopped by Malaysian police.


1 comment:

Disgusted said...

written on. Still the boat people will come in their hundreds and still the Govt will do nothing about it. They want as many potential Labor voters to come in on the boats as possible bugger the Australian people.