Thursday, September 27, 2012

Labor has lost purpose, says former Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner

BOB Carr has called for Labor Party figures to stop bagging the government after former minister Lindsay Tanner took a swipe at the party, saying it has lost its purpose and removing Kevin Rudd was a mistake.

Mr Tanner told The Australian today: "I agree with John Howard’s assessment. Had Labor kept its nerve we would have won the 2010 election."

"I think panic was a significant factor in the removal of Kevin Rudd as prime minister but there were multiple factors involved."

His comments prompted an angry response from Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who called for an end to the criticism of the party.

Mr Carr, in New York for a meeting of the UN, said the public was sick of hearing about what is wrong with the party.

"We went through a stage where every galah in a pet shop had an opinion about what was wrong with the Labor Party. Now I'm sick of that. I think the public is sick of it , we've got to talk about what the Labor Party has got right and there are a lot of things it's got right in government and talk about what Tony Abbott and the Liberals have failed to do and got wrong," he said.

"I think the Labor Party has been anatomised to the last fibre. Everyone has volunteered to say what's wrong with the Labor Party. I'm saying it time to say what's right about the Labor Party and what the Labor Party has done for Australia.
Bob Carr in New York

Foreign Minister Bob Carr, seen here in New York at a dinner to honour Indonesian President Yudhoyono, said Labor figures should stop bagging the party. Picture: Trevor Collens

"If I were in retirement, if I hadn't taken this job it would have been push over to have polished off another book number 20 on what's wrong with the Labor Party. It's too easy. I'm sure there is terrrific analysis in Lindsay's book because Lindsay is very brainy. But it's got a bit too easy to write another book spelling what is wrong with the battered old Labor Party."

"For goodness sake if you want a case study of a political body without a soul, go to the Liberal Party."

Mr Tanner today labelled the attack on Mr Rudd’s character by senior ministers during the battle over the party’s leadership earlier this year as "high exaggerated" and "extremely perverse".
PM Gillard responds to Tanner criticism

He said the attacks on Mr Rudd damaged the party’s image with voters.  "It is impossible to attack the Rudd government without undermining the Gillard government.

"The sad thing about all this is that Labor is trashing its own great achievement. In spite of everything that has since happened, we should be very proud of our government’s handling of the 2008-2009 crisis.

"And we should be proud of the face that when it really mattered, four leading Labor figures with a history of personal rivalry and conflicting ambitions were able to put tension aside and act to protect Australia in a time of global turmoil."

Mr Tanner resigned the day Mr Rudd was removed and did not contest the 2010 election. His harsh critique of Labor comes as he promotes his new book, Politics with Purpose which is a collection of essays, speeches and articles he wrote from 1990-2012.

"I think it is getting a little too easy to bag the Labor Party. I've got a different approach and that is to talk up what is right about the Labor Party," he said.

Mr Tanner also said the party had become poll-driven, lacked purpose and needs a "complete root-and-branch rethink about why we exist".

Prime Minister Julia Gillard who is also in New York, responded to her former colleague’s bleak assessment of by insisting her government understood its role.

"I can be very clear about the government's purpose," she said in New York where she is attending the United Nations Leaders Week.

"The government's purpose is to keep the economy strong, to make sure that not only today, but tomorrow, Australians have got the best of opportunities and we maximise our prosperity as our region changes, and then we find a way to share that, that is fair and meets the needs of the Australian people."

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott compared the ALP to the shady US political slush fund exposed during the 1970s Watergate scandal.

The Committee to Re-elect the President - nicknamed CREEP - was the controversial fundraising body for US President Richard Nixon's 1972 election campaign.

Mr Abbott today told reporters in Brisbane that the new book by Tanner, in which the ex-MP condemns the coup against Kevin Rudd in June 2010, had "belled the cat about the contemporary Labor party''.

"It's a party that has lost its soul,'' he said.  "A once great political party has become a squalid Committee to Re-Elect Julia Gillard, or whoever happens to be the leader at any particular time.  "Lindsay Tanner knew from day one that he couldn't trust Julia Gillard - unfortunately the rest of us have had to learn the hard way.''


Indonesia foils asylum seeker voyage

Indonesian authorities have arrested more than 120 asylum seekers who were trying to reach Australia.

Water police intercepted them at the mouth of a river in west Java as they attempted to make their way to the ocean and beyond to Australia.

On board were 126 asylum seekers from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but five managed to escape from authorities.

It is understood the remaining asylum seekers are certified as having refugee status, but they will be detained in Indonesia which is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention.

Indonesian immigration authorities are transferring the detainees to the West Java town of Bogor with the involvement of the International Organisation for Migration.


Police insist tougher data retention laws needed

This would catch only little fish.  Real criminals and terrorists will be aware of what is monitored and what is not and will get around the snooping in various ways

Civil libertarians say the Government's new data retention plans are an intrusion on privacy, but law enforcement agencies say they are nowhere near tough enough.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security has started hearing from the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and state police and law enforcement agencies.

The spies and police want radical new powers, including forcing telecommunication providers to keep information indefinitely, but the Government's proposal would restrict them to two years of data retention.

NSW crime commissioner Peter Singleton says police are up against a net-savvy generation of crooks who juggle SIM cards and smart phones to stay one step ahead of the law.

"We have criminals who will walk around town with a pocket full of SIM cards," he said.

"They'll make one call, thrown the SIM card away; make the next call, throw the SIM card away. Each of these is done on a different telecommunications service."

It is against that sort of opponent that police argue for stronger laws to monitor phone and internet activity.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says what they want most is not the content but what is known as metadata - data about data.

"Not the content, but things like where the call or where the message or where the communication happened, the location, the time, the date, who the communication was to," he said.

"It's not the content that we're necessarily looking for storage on."

That is for phone and text, but Commissioner Scipione concedes that police also want records of where people have been on the net as well - "to the extent that we know where people were or what their ISP was that they were using, or the URL that they did visit."

At the moment some companies keep data, like SMS text messages, for only a matter of days.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus says that is frustrating.  "There's no obligation on them at the moment to hold data," he said.  "What we're saying is we'd like some consistency about how this is applied and that's really what the committee is here to consider."

Police originally wanted data to be kept for five years.

Stephen Blanks, from the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, says they have not really made a clear cut case for any reform.

"The current law is that telecommunications data can be accessed by these agencies without a warrant, but if they want to access content then they have to get a warrant," he said.

"But what's being proposed sounds like they want to wind back the supervision regime, they say there's never been a problem with corruption or misuse of these powers so the supervision regime is too onerous.

"They're looking at forcing telcos and others to retain data for up to two years so they can access it if they want to."

Keeping track of police

It is possible for anyone to keep track of what law enforcement agencies are up to, to a point.

The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act that allows bugging in the first place also requires that an annual report be published ever year, and it is available online at the Federal Attorney-General's website.

The document includes a table detailing which police agencies have been busy bugging and listening, and by far the most active is the New South Wales police force.

Over 2010-11, they carried out 1,279 intercepts and only three applications for a warrant were turned down.

The Federal Police carried out less than half as many at 523.

The various other state police forces tell quite a different story, carrying out comparatively fewer telecommunications intercepts.

Queensland had 177, WA 231, Victoria 317, and Tasmania, 27.

The overwhelming majority of intercepts are used in chasing down serious crimes like drug crimes, murder, money laundering, bribery and corruption.

Despite some popular perceptions, instances where they are used for suspected terrorism are comparatively rare.

Mr Blanks worries about an explosion of intercepts if federal law makers give police what they want.

"What this legislation, what this proposal would mean, is that all of these service providers would be turned into data collectors for the state," he said.

Seventeen separate law enforcement bodies have the legal right to get a warrant to listen to your phone calls, read your text messages and watch what you do on the internet.

Parliament will decide how long the information will be held, but the telco industry says it will not be cheap. It could cost as much as $700 million.

Police say the question of who would pay for that is a matter for politicians.


Grants to reduce extremist violence 'missing their target'

The Government has given community groups millions of dollars to try and reduce extremist violence, but some Muslim community members say the grants are not working.

The Federal Attorney-General's Department says the grants are aimed at building resilience to violent extremism and assisting individuals who are vulnerable to extremist influences.

Since the program began two years ago, $4.2 million has been handed out to sporting organisations, education providers and Islamic NGOs and community groups.

But some insiders have told triple j's Hack the money has been used to fund other programs which focus on mentoring high achievers instead of helping those likely to be at risk of extremism.

The Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) is one of 52 organisations that have been given grants as part of the Countering Violent Extremism program.

The LMA's head, Samier Dandan, banded together a group of community organisations to jointly condemn the ugly scenes earlier this month during protests in Sydney.

This year, the LMA was given the equal biggest grant of $100,000 for its Positive Intellect Project.

But according to some Muslim community members, that $100,000 will go nowhere to build resilience to violent extremism and assist individuals who are vulnerable to extremist influences

"They were definitely missing their target audience," one member told Hack.

Rebecca Kay is a converted Muslim and former candidate for Bankstown Council and New South Wales Parliament.

She says those young people vulnerable to extremism do not feel engaged or represented and the LMA could have used the money more effectively.

"I think they really need to self evaluate how they've been running their organisation," she said.

They should be open and transparent about these things. That's one of the problems in our community

Hack asked the LMA for a response last Thursday, but the organisation requested the story not go to air for a few days so they could organise a response.

The LMA's project manager then said she would organise an interview with the group's head, but eventually they decided not to do the interview.

Hack has spoken to someone who was part of the LMA's program but who did not wish to be named.

They said the program gave leadership, religious, advocacy and media training to about 15 to 20 Muslims in their late teens and early twenties.

The participant said they were mostly all well educated and showed leadership potential.

But there was no mention of the training involving engagement with violent extremists.

Kuranda Seyit is the executive director of the Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations (FAIR).  He has serious questions about what the grant program is achieving.  "They should be open and transparent about these things. That's one of the problems in our community," he said.

Off target

Mr Seyit says the programs seem to be missing their mark.

"Well the question is whether we're doing this to empower the community or whether we're trying to counter extremism and radicalisation of Muslim youth," he said.

"If it's the latter then you've just got to look at the participants in the program and whether they're the actual target group or at risk youth.

"You can see that they're fairly strong sort of achievers in their own right so they're not the particularly at risk youth that we're targeting I think."

He says that if the programs are focused on empowering the community rather than directly targeting extremist youth, then it is not the role of the Attorney-General to be providing funding.

"After all the Attorney-General's main area is around legal and judicial issues and law enforcement so it does make sense if they were to put more effort into that side of the issue," he said.

Mr Seyit also has concerns about the level of scrutiny put on the organisations who received the grants.

"It may be excessively high for these organisations to receive such large amounts based on little research and potential for the programs to not really make an impact in the community," he said.

The Attorney-General's Department declined to be interviewed for this story but offered a statement.

It said the overwhelming feedback the Government has had is that these programs are incredibly popular and effective at starting the work to build community resilience.

The Department says these projects are designed to support a wide variety of activities, including mentoring for youth, intercultural and interfaith education in schools and leadership training.


1 comment:

Paul said...

but they will be detained in Indonesia which is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention.

Smart Indonesians. They still understand the concept of National Sovereignty. We don't. We are run by a corrupt globalist cabal called the AWU faction of the Labor Party.