Wednesday, September 29, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is perturbed at the decision to charge Australian commandos with manslaughter after a firefight in Afghanistan

Greenie laws erode the rights of blacks

A new report by the Anglican Church has found the Queensland Government's Wild Rivers laws are eroding indigenous property rights and wellbeing. The report, to be released this morning, will fuel Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott's fight to have the laws overturned.

The Wild Rivers Act was introduced by the Queensland Government in 2005 to protect the health of 10 Cape York river systems by placing some limits on development. Critics, including Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson, say it will rob traditional owners of economic opportunities on their own land and perpetuate the welfare cycle.

The church said the report was the most forensic economic study it had ever undertaken on the effects of any laws relating to indigenous people. It found the laws were "eroding indigenous property rights and adversely affecting indigenous wellbeing", the church said in a statement.

Mr Pearson will be among those present at the report's launch in Brisbane at 10am (AEST).

Mr Abbott last week said the Opposition's "first priority" in the new Parliament would be to work with the independents to overturn the Wild Rivers laws. He also believes the legislation is stifling indigenous communities and has pledged to introduce a private member's Bill in a bid to have the legislation dumped.

The Queensland Government has questioned whether any move in Canberra could undo state legislation. Queensland Resources Minister Stephen Robertson last week offered Federal independent MPs a personal briefing on the laws, saying they ensure development approvals take account of and protect the natural value of the rivers.

Today, the Wilderness Society accused Mr Abbott of pandering to mining interests and destroying the Liberal Party's environmental credentials by waging war on the laws. "It is ironic that five years ago this week, the Liberals actually voted with Labor in support of the Wild Rivers Act in the Queensland Parliament," the society's Queensland campaign manager Dr Tim Seelig said in a statement. "Now the federal Liberal leader is trying to overturn this same legislation." The society said the impact of the laws had been grossly overstated by critics.


Civil language, evil intent show what's ahead

Julia calls for civility while practicing the opposite herself. Typical Leftist double standards

IT'S a day normally reserved for the pomp and ceremony associated with the opening of a new parliament. But politics - the tough, hard politics of a hung parliament - intruded everywhere.

Under cover of promoting harmony and parliamentary reform in the name of democracy, every comment was laced with sarcasm and spite. The language was civil but the intent was evil.

Julia Gillard and Anthony Albanese took every opportunity to attack Tony Abbott for being a wrecker, a dishonorable cad who wouldn't keep his word even if it was written down.

The Prime Minister appealed for consensus and conciliation rather than "wrecking", and used her speech on the election of the Labor Speaker, Harry Jenkins, to get stuck into Abbott from the very beginning of the 43rd parliament.

The Opposition Leader turned his congratulatory speech for Jenkins into a hard-edged declaration of continued opposition and a refusal of any offer of a confected "consensus".

Gillard kept appealing for co-operation and goodwill while criticising Abbott and working undercover to double-cross the Libs on the position of a Deputy Speaker.

Abbott did break his deal with the government over the election of a Speaker on the pretext of a constitutional difficulty but the real aim was trying to keep the Gillard government's practical majority to just one seat in the House of Representatives.

At the same time, Labor was scheming to get a Liberal MP to agree to a "gentleman's agreement" in which Labor would get extra protection from motions of no confidence and keeping a two-vote buffer on day-to-day votes.

But the tactical battles and votes on the first day over the Speaker's post and new standing orders only established an atmosphere of animosity which will frame the wider political scene in the months ahead.

Gillard and Abbott both made it clear they were going to fight each other on everything. Gillard is intent on portraying Abbott as terminally negative and destructive. For his part Abbott is trying to defend his right to criticise and oppose as Opposition Leader while not being continually negative.

Abbott argued that a hung parliament was no excuse for the government to say all its election bets were off and "a finely balanced parliament does not excuse the government of its duty to keep its election commitments".

"It does not excuse the government from its duty to be an effective government. They can lower expectations all they like here, but out there, in the country, the people . . . expect a government that keeps its election commitments. It cannot walk away from its election commitments simply because of the closeness of the numbers in this parliament," he said.

All the angst about parliamentary reform and intrigue about the Speaker's job comes down to this: there's one vote between the government and failure, and nobody's prepared to give way.


No integrity at Victoria's Office of Police Integrity

The OPI has been suspect for a long time and this would appear to seal it

THE head of Victoria's police watchdog admits its reputation has been harmed by the discovery of sensitive documents during a drug raid.

Victoria Police are investigating whether the former head of intelligence and phone tapping at the Office of Police Integrity stole the documents, which were found in a box in a garage in Melbourne's north on September 10.

The suspected criminal whose home was raided is believed to be in a relationship with the former OPI official under investigation.

OPI director Michael Strong said the discovery of the documents, along with others from ASIO and an anti-corruption body in Western Australia, was a “major security” breach and they were “shocked and alarmed” by what had happened.

“Anything like this impacts adversely on our credibility and I am concerned about that and it's a pity that it has happened,” Mr Strong told Fairfax radio this morning.

Mr Strong said his senior staff had “assured him” there was no risk to any member of the police force or the public despite the files being sensitive and containing names. “There are no missing files, there are some copied documents and notes that were found in a box at certain premises,” he said.

Mr Strong said the employee was the head of phone tapping until November last year and it appeared she may have breached the OPI's policy of removing documents. “She came to us with an impeccable security record,” Mr Strong said. “It appears that the employee on the way has gathered documents from her other employment.” He denied the incident undermined the work of the OPI, saying it had been “travelling well”.

Opposition leader Ted Baillieu said the latest incident proved the OPI had “run its race”. “I think it's almost impossible for Victorians to now have confidence in the OPI,” he said. “There have been a series of issues, this is the latest one, and I think the OPI in its current form has run its race.”

Victoria Police chief commissioner Simon Overland also said he did not believe police or individuals' safety had been compromised by the OPI/Victoria Police files. He said the ASIO document found was an acknowledgment of a job application and would not constitute a threat to ASIO or national security.

“Obviously it's a concern that this material has found its way out of the organisation,” he told Fairfax Radio. He confirmed some of the material found related to Victoria Police but had come from the offices of the OPI.


Consumers charged heaps more for electricity under Queensland Government "Green" scheme

HOUSEHOLDS are being charged seven times the real price for gas-fired electricity to meet the Bligh Government's commitment to a "clean and green" Queensland.

Retailers have been handed the right to slug Queenslanders on regulated power prices a set amount for the 15 per cent of electricity they must source from gas-fired power plants.

However, the retailers are pocketing a multimillion-dollar windfall from the Government's scheme as they are routinely sourcing gas-fired electricity at a significantly cheaper price than they charge.

The effect is that the average Queensland household is paying about $28 annually for gas-fired electricity that would cost retailers $4 based on current prices.

Across the 1.8 million residential customers in Queensland, electricity retailers would be raking in more than $50 million from gas-fired electricity that cost them just over $7 million.

The previously secret slug adds to the pressure on households suffering from skyrocketing water bills, increasing interest rates and high petrol prices.

The average annual household electricity bill in southeast Queensland has gone from $1330 in 2006 to $2046 this year. The cost of producing electricity only makes up a portion of bills, which also include the cost of investment and maintenance in the power network.

Energy Minister Stephen Robertson has wiped his hands of responsibility for the effect of the scheme. In a written statement, a department spokesman said the Queensland Competition Authority was responsible for setting prices. "Any specific questions about how the QCA determined a particular component of the Benchmark Retail Cost Index should be directed to the QCA."

But Opposition energy spokesman Jeff Seeney said Queenslanders were being slugged while the Government abdicated its responsibilities. "Despite their talk, there is no effort by the Government to keep downward pressure on electricity prices and that is what this illustrates," he said. "If the minister is not looking after the interests of the consumers, then who is?"

Under the Queensland pricing system, retailers must meet their commitment to buy 15 per cent of gas-fired electricity by purchasing Gas Electricity Certificates.

The QCA in its latest price determination set the price of a GEC at $18.94, or $2.84 a MWh. But, at the time of the determination in May, a GEC could be bought on the energy market for about $4, or 60¢ a MWh. Prices are now about $2.75 a GEC but have gone as low as $1.

Energy Retailers Association chief Cameron O'Reilly said the disparity was the cost of having a Government-introduced scheme and prices could not be changed regularly to match market fluctuations. "Sometimes if (government schemes) are out they work in the retailer's favour, sometimes they don't," he said.

A graph of market prices for GECs shows that the price has declined significantly over the past three years and has not come close to the $18.94 price tag set by the QCA.

With an average southeast Queensland household using about 10MWh annually, the price they are charged for the gas-fired power proportion of their bill by retailers would be about $28. However the retailers are paying about $4.13 for the 1.5MWh of gas-fired electricity required annually for the average home, or $1.50 at the lowest price.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Black or White, wild rivers is a very unpopular piece of legislation here in the North.