Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Environmental activists want control of primary industry
Environmental activists plan to control the way all Australian primary produce is harvested and marketed, Queensland Senator Ron Boswell has warned. Senator Boswell said environmental non-government organisations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) wanted all primary producers to pay for “sustainability certification” before their products could be marketed.
“It is by no means far?fetched to say that WWF and other ENGOs fully intend that all food and fibre products harvested in Australia will be forced to go through one of their cash-producing sustainability certification schemes,” he said. “Last year, WWF International stated it was focusing on commodities including beef, bio?energy, cotton, dairy, farmed fish, palm oil, pulp and paper, soy, sugar cane, timber and wild?caught fish. It intended to target companies such as commodity traders, manufacturers, retailers and banks, insisting they deal only with producers endorsed by WWF.
“In Australia, we have already seen WWF sustainability certification bodies established or projected in a number of primary production areas: for example, forestry, fishing, and now beef. “I believe these schemes raise issues of fundamental importance about how Australia will be governed in future – certainly about how food, fibre and timber products will be harvested.”
Senator Boswell said a common tactic by ENGOs involved environmental blackmail, commonly referred to as “green?mail”. “This involves action to devalue the public perception of the brand name or reputation of producers and retailers to pressure them to adopt certification systems developed by ENGOs. That way, ENGOs are able to control the supply chain.”
Senator Boswell made these statements today while speaking on the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill, which he said could force timber producers and processors to join a sustainability certification scheme.
“The growth of ENGO-controlled certification bodies highlights an apparent abdication of responsibility by the current federal government for making important decisions about primary production.
Received from Qld. Senator Boswell
Fed. Govt pushes savage new discrimination law
THE federal government plans to simplify national laws that will include a discrimination ban on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The measures are outlined in an exposure draft that Attorney-General Nicola Roxon will release on Tuesday.
Labor made an election promise in 2010 to consolidate discrimination laws from five acts down to one.
"I think many business groups will welcome this because instead of having to comply with five different laws at the commonwealth level, there will be one," Ms Roxon told ABC Radio. "It's actually a really good opportunity for people to enhance their processes but in a way that's very simple for people to understand."
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said she was interested in seeing details of the proposed changes.
"We want to make sure that it really will enable people to take action more easily," she told reporters in Canberra. "I am pleased that they are expanding the areas of discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
Senator Milne said she hoped it would lead to the government abandoning its discrimination against same-sex marriage.
Her colleague Sarah Hanson-Young said the move was welcome but there should not be any "out clauses". "If religious organisations want to continue to discriminate against people just because of who they are, then I just don't think that's right," she said. "I don't think the majority of Australians think that's right."
Finance Minister Penny Wong dismissed criticism the proposed changes would give too much power in discrimination cases to complainants.
She told Sky News the changes would allow a commissioner to dismiss discrimination cases that were without merit earlier, while making cases with merit easier to pursue.
Shadow attorney-general spokesman George Brandis acknowledged there was an obvious argument for a single consolidated anti-discrimination statute. But he was very concerned about reports the onus of proof would be reversed, saying that would be a bad thing.
"It violates the whole principle upon which our justice system has always operated," he told Sky News. "That is that if you make an allegation against someone, it's for you to demonstrate that they have done the wrong thing, not for them to prove that they have done the right thing."
Senator Brandis warned the change could result in a huge increase in claims. "Do we want many, many more complaints tying up the courts, particularly when the onus of proof is thrown on people to prove their innocence - I don't think so," he said.
Amazing legal fees in a divorce -- now in contention
The whole law firm is in the gun over the deeds of one rogue partner
FOUR top lawyers have blamed their former business partner for a divorcee's $4.12 million legal bill and claim he alone should have to repay it.
The group, from Donaldson Walsh Lawyers, has moved to distance itself from Australia's most expensive divorce case by offering an out-of-court settlement.
They have promised to pay the woman $800,000 but say the remainder of her refund must come from their former partner, Alan Branch.
Since 2005, the woman - who cannot be named - has been embroiled in divorce proceedings with her ex-husband. The former couple has spent a combined $36.5 million on lawyers and court fees during their dispute.
In 2010, The Advertiser revealed the woman was suing Donaldson Walsh over the services it had provided during the case, for which she was billed $4.12 million.
She said the firm needlessly generated 23,000 documents and 480,000 computer files - enough to fill 182 archive boxes - about the matter.
She asked the court to review her bill and determine how much she should have to pay.
Court documents obtained by The Advertiser show the woman has been offered a settlement by Donaldson Walsh partners Karl Luke, Alastair Donaldson, William Esau and John Walsh.
The documents say each has paid her $200,000 and offered to give evidence against Mr Branch - who was the principal on her case - in court. In an affidavit, Mr Branch says dividing up any alleged responsibility for the bill is unfair. "In April 2009 I suffered an illness and later was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome," he says.
"Doctors have certified it is difficult to predict when I may return to full health and (they) do not consider I am fit to return to work."
In a ruling contained on the court file, Judge Robert Lunn says splitting the case is inappropriate. "It is not consistent with the exercise of supervisory jurisdiction that the Court should be asked to make one partner responsible for the propriety of what has been done by the firm as a whole," he says.
"It is also inconsistent ... that a former client should be permitted to seek to recover, from that one partner, any overcharging."
Sentence changed in Facebook sex ratings case
Sounds like a heavier sentence for what was, after all just an expression of opinion
A man has had his suspended prison sentence quashed after he created a Facebook page rating the sexual performance of central Victorian women.
Bendigo man Joshua Turner, 25, pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to offend and to publishing objectionable material online.
During the case the prosecution told the court Turner set up the page with a friend after seeing similar pages for other towns online.
The court heard there was public outcry about the page, prompting police to remove it from Facebook and lay charges.
The youngest victim in the case was just 16.
Turner received a six-month suspended prison term in July and was banned from using Facebook for two years.
But today a County Court judge overturned his sentence and instead imposed an 18-month community corrections order and 100 hours of community service.