Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whaaaat! Gillard apologizes for her Australian accent

What an insult to the people she supposedly represents! Just another instance of how Leftists hate the society in which they live, I guess

JULIA Gillard has apologised for her "dreadful Australian accent" during her visit to New Zealand. The Prime Minister was attempting a Maori greeting but mangled it. "I hope it was something Iike that in my dreadful Australian accent," she said.

The misstep came before a speech in Auckland where Ms Gillard heaped praise on Australia and New Zealand's mateship, thanking New Zealand's Civil Defence team for rushing to Queensland after the summer of natural disasters. "You brought mateship, you brought comfort and your work won't be forgotten," Ms Gillard told the Trans-Tasman Business Circle lunch.

She said Australia shared New Zealand's grief over the Pike River mine disaster and the Canterbury earthquake. "At a time of hardship and grief, Australia will always be there to help," she said.

Ms Gillard earlier said she was not offended by the New Zealand Government backdown on plans for her to speak to a session of their parliament in Wellington.

Arriving at a business lunch in Auckland this morning, Ms Gillard said she was honoured by the compromise that will see her address the NZ House of Representatives debating chamber when the parliament is not sitting.

"The details of these arrangements are properly a matter for the parliament of New Zealand. But I will be very, very honoured to be there," Ms Gillard said.

Mr Key dumped plans for Ms Gillard to become the first foreign leader to address the floor of the NZ Parliament this week after Greens MPs said they would block the move because it threatened the country's independence. Mr Key said he wanted to avoid an embarrassing situation where the Greens may disrupt Ms Gillard's speech.

Ms Gillard said she "got on very well" with the conservative NZ leader Mr Key.


Leftists falling out over carbon price

Beleaguered NSW Premier Kristina Keneally has warned Julia Gillard's plan to put a price on carbon represents a critical risk to the electricity industry and taxpayers. Her comments will reignite the debate over compensation to big emitters of greenhouse gases as the Gillard government attempts to secure Greens support for a carbon price this year.

Ms Keneally said NSW had to be prepared for the "coming risk" of a carbon pollution reduction scheme and the sale of electricity assets mitigated the state's financial exposure to the impacts of a carbon price.

NSW late last year sold off a $5.3 billion slice of the state's power industry, but failed to attract any bids in part two of the privatisation, which was shelved earlier this month. "If we had been able to complete the transaction ... we would have taken the taxpayer entirely out of that risk of the CPRS and the cost of that coming back onto them," Ms Keneally told 2GB's Alan Jones. "It's a risk to the electricity businesses themselves."

Her position is at odds with the Gillard government's arguments that a carbon price would help foster investment certainty for the electricity sector, preventing excessive price hikes.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt seized on the admission, saying the NSW state Labor government was at odds with federal Labor. He said Ms Keneally's statements amounted to an admission that a carbon price would "attack the sustainability and viability of electricity suppliers".

"Kristina Keneally has let the cat out of the bag," he told The Australian Online. "Two things must happen. Kristina Keneally must make clear whether she supports massive increases in power prices under the Gillard government's proposed scheme.

"The second thing is the Prime Minister must make it clear whether she agrees with Kristina Keneally that there will be major impacts on the lowest income earners and on the sustainability of power networks."

Electricity privatisation has a long and troubled history in NSW. Former NSW premier Bob Carr's plan for a power industry sell-off in 1997 was scuttled by union and party anger and, in 2008, Morris Iemma was ousted over his attempts to sell electricity retail companies and put long-term leases on the generators.


Voters disillusioned about "independent" politicians

COUNTRY independents are facing a wipe-out in NSW in a backlash against the MPs who have propped up Julia Gillard's Government. Only one of four MPs is certain to survive next month's election. Peter Besseling in Port Macquarie is under most threat.

The National Party has targeted the area, which is represented in Federal Parliament by Rob Oakeshott. Mr Besseling has been telling his electorate he would never support NSW Labor in the event of a hung Parliament.

A senior National Party source said dissatisfaction over Mr Oakeshott, a former Nationals member, had been noted in the state campaign. "There were signs up all around Port Macquarie that just had, 'Oakeshott you bloody sell-out'," the source said.

"There's no question there is a lot of anger in the community. Besseling is tarred with the Oakeshott brush - they're such close friends, he worked for him, it was Besseling who advised Oakeshott going into the deal with Gillard."

Mr Besseling said that he stands alone. "Rob Oakeshott is Rob Oakeshott, we are independents, we don't always agree," Mr Besseling said yesterday.

Tamworth independent MP Peter Draper won the seat 15 months after it was vacated by Tony Windsor and now faces a challenge because of it. "There will be some sort of effect [because of Mr Windsor's decision to side with Julia Gillard]; I am not sure how big it will be," Mr Draper said. He is up against a National Party candidate, Kevin Anderson.

Dubbo independent Dawn Fardell's toughest opponent will be a former decorated police officer running for the National Party, Troy Grant. Northern Tablelands MP Richard Torbay is likely to retain his seat.



Three current articles below

The good ol' generous Australian taxpayer forks out airfares for visit by illegal immigrants

Leftists love spending other people's money

Mourners have today farewelled family and friends killed in the Christmas Island boat disaster as immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the Federal Government should not be paying to fly family members to the Sydney funerals.

Relatives and friends of asylum seekers killed in December's boat tragedy off Christmas Island have buried two babies and the father of an eight-year-old survivor in Sydney.

As many as 50 people died when the asylum seeker vessel SIEV 221 crashed on rocks and broke apart off Christmas Island's Rocky Point on December 15.

Meanwhile, Mr Morrison has criticised the sponsored travel arrangements that saw close family members flown from Christmas Island to Sydney for the funerals at the government's expense. "I don't think it is reasonable," Mr Morrison told ABC Radio.

The Opposition says everyday Australians attending funerals around the country are not entitled to such government largesse. "The Government had the option of having these services on Christmas Island," he told the ABC.

"If relatives of those who were involved wanted to go to Christmas Island, like any other Australian who wanted to attend a funeral service in another part of the country, they would have made their own arrangements to be there."

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen defended the decision which he said had been made following discussions the Australian Federal Police, which is responsible for the bodies, had with the families of the victims, and that numbers had been limited to "direct and close" family members.

Mr Bowen told the Australian Online Mr Morrison's comments were regrettable. "At the time of the tragedy there was an appropriate degree of public commentary from the opposition, which rose above politics," he said. "I think it would be better on the day of the funeral that that continued. "It is perfectly appropriate for the Department of Immigration and the Australian Federal Police to make the arrangements that they have.


Labor's $2.5m hotel bill to house asylum seekers

A HOTEL bill of almost $2.5 million a month is being racked up by the Federal Government to house some 500 asylum seekers outside detention centres as it struggles to find a solution to the record number of boat arrivals.

The Department of Immigration has admitted paying $60,000 a night in November last year to house up to 188 people, mainly families, a total bill of almost $800,000, for a fortnight's accommodation at Darwin's Airport Lodge.

The figures reveal that, based on the leases the Government had in place at the end of 2010, the average cost across motels, hotels and guest houses around the country was $2.36 million a month.

The revelation comes as Amnesty International accused the Federal Government of backsliding fast on its promise of a humane approach to refugees.

The Government had previously refused to reveal the true cost of its alternative accommodation policy to house families and unaccompanied minors outside detention camps - claiming the contracts with hotels were commercial-in-confidence.

During one 13 day period - from November 10 to November 23, 2010 - the cost of accommodation at the Darwin Airport Lodge was $778,000, including GST.

The cost of flights to and from Christmas Island to bring detainees to the mainland also topped $12 million last year, for an average of $145,000 per charter for 83 flights.

Only last week the Government revealed it would need an extra $290 million this year to cover the rising costs.

"They have a financial crisis on asylum seekers of their own making," Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said. "This is a government paying five-star rates for roadside motel accommodation."

According to the documents, as at October 2010 there were eight motels, hotels or commercial accommodations housing a total of 461 asylum seekers, who the department refer to as irregular maritime arrivals or IMAs.

Refugee advocates claim that the perception that IMAs were enjoying a luxurious life by being housed in motels was ridiculous when some of the accommodation was no grander than a demountable camp. The majority of those in motels were families who were forced to live in small rooms with children for periods of up to six months with no cooking facilities.

The number of asylum seekers arriving by boat from war-torn regions abroad is at a record high, now totalling 6200.


Border security fail could be fatal for the Australian Labor Party

After Federal Parliament returns next Monday, there are sufficient grounds for the opposition to move the first no-confidence motion in the Gillard government. The trigger is the disintegrating credibility of Australia's border security, and the compromising of Australia's territorial sovereignty. On this fundamental moral and political issue, the Gillard government is unfit to govern.

The majority of the electorate takes this issue very seriously as a matter of principle. If a federal government cannot maintain territorial integrity the electorate will inflict political pain. That's why the phrase ''we will stop the boats'' were the first words of the mantra constantly repeated by Tony Abbott when he outperformed the robotic Julie Gillard in last year's election campaign. If an Australian government is perceived to be capitulating to the tactic of fait accompli on its borders by people demanding a right of entry, the government faces political death.

This principle is non-negotiable for most Australians. Thus the Coalition's chief pollster and electorate researcher, Mark Textor, put the words ''stop the boats'' first when he wrote that mantra. ''I put them first because it was the issue voters were putting first,'' Textor told me.

Now, six months on from the election, the Middle East is yet again in flux and the legal sieve that passes for Australia's border security is spiralling out of control. Could the Gillard government stop a big influx of illegal entrants? No. It doesn't have the policies.

None of us know whether we are witnessing a political spring or autumn in the streets of Cairo and Tunis. While the euphoria of people power in Egypt and Tunisia allows for hope, the Middle East has been utterly consistent in delivering political dislocations that eventually wash up on Australia's shores.

Literally. Look no further than the 15 bodies that have found their way, at great expense, to a morgue in Lidcombe. They are the remains of people who tried to get into Australia illegally and died in the process when their boat foundered.

Even as arrangements are made for their burial in Rookwood cemetery this week, the bodies, mostly Iraqi nationals, are the subject of legal wrangling.

It is typical of the legal quagmire that the Gillard government, and the Department of Immigration, have allowed to occur. I used to assume that the Department of Immigration was rigorous, impartial and transparent. I no longer make that assumption. In my dealings with the department I have found it both opaque and politely useless. Because there appears to be no point in dealing with the media unit, I am preparing a list of questions for the secretary of the department, Andrew Metcalfe. He will probably fob off the questions but the process will be public.

Metcalfe's department is busy spending an unprecedented amount delivering an ineffective program on the scale of waste comparable to Labor's national roof insulation scheme or school building program. This time the failure is destroying lives and inviting more of the same on a greater scale.

Last Thursday, the Gillard government asked for another $290 million to fund its border protection program. The opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, responded: ''In 2010-11 the government will spend more than $760 million on people arriving illegally in Australia. This compares to less than $100 million in annual expenditure when the Howard government left office in 2007.''

At this rate of spending, the cost of keeping each detainee has rocketed to $150,000 a year. It is not just the ridiculous cost. It's the mindset. The overwhelming majority of Australians would regard the people smugglers' boats as illegal entries. Yet the Department of Immigration cannot bring itself to use the term ''illegal''. It refers to these incursions into Australian territory as ''irregular''.

No wonder there is backlog of 6000 humanitarian cases clogging the scrutiny and review system. No wonder the Labor government, which railed against the Howard government's detention policies, is opening more and more detention centres. No wonder the centres are all overcrowded, leading the 2010 Australian of the Year, Professor Pat McGorry, to describe them as ''factories for producing mental illness''.

They are mental illness factories, because the vetting process is painfully slow, legal appeals are also ponderous, families are separated, violent disruptions are routine, and self-harm is common.

More than 2000 violent incidents are happening every year in the centres. Last week, in the latest known incident, about 40 detainees were involved in scuffles at the Darwin Airport Lodge detention centre. Six people were hospitalised.

All because this government is achieving the worst of both worlds: encourage the people-smuggler trade then lock up the arrivals.

While the majority of the electorate appear to believe that the last people who should be allowed permanently into the country are those who try to come in illegally, the Gillard government does not even forcibly return people it has ordered to be deported.

It does not automatically reject anyone who arrives without identity papers. Instead, it follows policies laid down by the United Nations Convention on Refugees and other UN protocols.

The combination of more arrivals, more detentions and slow processes means the average time spent in detention has risen to 183 days. Six months. Two years ago the figure was 25 days.

The federal opposition might want to ask why should Australians would want to accept this expensive debacle? A no-confidence motion would also oblige the man who made all this possible, the independent MP Robert Oakeshott, to stand up and defend the indefensible if he voted with the government on this issue.


Note: I have two other blogs covering Australian news. They are more specialized so are not updated daily but there are updates on both most weeks. See QANTAS/Jetstar for news on Qantas failings and Australian police news for news on police misbehaviour

No comments: