Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tom says "No" to the politicians

Good on him

TOM Waterhouse has snubbed a second invitation to front a parliamentary inquiry into gambling, outraging MPs who will now decide whether to summons him.

The high-profile bookmaker and son of trainer Gai Waterhouse was issued a formal request to attend a public hearing after refusing an earlier invitation because he was busy attending the spring racing carnival.

The joint selection committee into gambling reform earlier this month delayed its report into the issue and offered Waterhouse a private hearing, anticipating he could provide valuable evidence on in-game advertising.

Committee chairman, independent MP Andrew Wilkie, said the committee would now decide whether to invoke a rarely-used power and summons him.

"My personal view is he should be summonsed," Mr Wilkie told ABC Radio.  "I don't think it's good enough that someone with such profile, someone who could help the committee so much, thinks that he's above the parliament and he can say no."

Mr Wilkie said he and several other members were personally appalled by the decision.  "How dare he show such contempt for the parliament to not accept a formal request to attend," he said.

"I mean, maybe he's starting to believe some of the media hype about him being racing royalty and above the parliament."

Mr Wilkie said Waterhouse could have genuinely assisted the committee to understand the industry better.

"(He) could have helped the committee to better understand why the industry thinks it's okay to bombard viewers with (gambling) advertising at a time of the day when a lot of children are watching TV," he said.

Waterhouse has already provided a two-page letter to the committee saying he has never intentionally targeted children in gambling advertising.

In it, he defended his controversial on-air role with Channel Nine during NRL broadcasts.  "This type of arrangement by our company ... is vital in keeping TV a viable and relevant medium to promote business," he wrote, adding that TV needed advertisers to be able to afford broadcast rights.  "In the modern age, traditional advertising (commercial ad breaks) no longer always works effectively."

The NRL told the inquiry Waterhouse's role had blurred the line between a bookmaker and a commentator and it has since been changed.

His segments are now accompanied by a graphic stating he is a bookmaker and not a commentator and he no longer holds a microphone with Channel Nine markings.


UPDATE: Tom wins another one: "TOM Waterhouse will be spared from facing a parliamentary inquiry on gambling he has twice snubbed, with Labor and Coalition MPs deciding not to summons the controversial bookmaker."

Poll says Senate looks good for Federal conservatives

AN Abbott government could end up controlling the Senate or have a sympathetic right-of-centre senator holding the balance of power, an opinion poll reveals.

This week's Nielsen poll, published in Fairfax newspapers, shows Labor stands to lose senators in every state and could be left with just 27 of the 76 places in the upper house.

The coalition could pick up 21 or more Senate seats at the September 14 election, giving it a total of at least 37 from July 2014 - just two short of an absolute majority.

On the cross benches would be the Greens and perhaps three independents - one from the Katter Australia Party (KAP), South Australian independent Nick Xenophon and John Madigan from the Democratic Labor Party.

Senator Madigan and the KAP senator are likely to side with the coalition on many issues.

Political scientist Nick Economou cautioned that it remained very difficult to predict Senate outcomes as the primary vote for major parties in the upper house race was usually less than in the House of Representatives.

As well, candidates were not known and neither were preference deals which would decide final Senate places in most states, he told the Australian Financial Review.

The coalition last won a Senate majority at the 2005 election, allowing former prime minister John Howard to push his controversial Work Choices legislation through parliament.

Senior Liberal George Brandis says the September election is about two houses of parliament, not one.

"People are sophisticated enough to understand that there's no point in voting to get rid of the carbon tax by voting for the coalition in the House of Representatives but leaving the Labor-Greens alliance in control in the Senate," he told Sky News.

Senator Brandis said voters were absolutely fed up with the hung parliament.

"The only way you can guarantee the next parliament won't be a hung parliament is to give the government elected in the House of Representatives a majority in the Senate as well," he said.


Clear lead for conservatives in Tasmania poll

Young Hodgman

THE Liberal Party remain clearly Tasmania's favourites for the State election, new EMRS polling has revealed.

New voting intentions figures released today show Labor has seen a boost in the polls but is still miles behind Oppostion Leader Will Hodgman and his team.

But the Tasmanian Greens have taken a significant knock in their popularity with a decrease of four points to record its lowest level since the 2010 state election.

The new polling figures also show that there is an increased level of uncertainty in the electorate as voters weigh up the alternatives less than 12 months out from the state election.

EMRS chief operations director Samuel Paske said that the latest results indicated Tasmanians were less certain of how they intended to vote than they were in the previous poll, an unusual occurrence as we draw closer to the state election.

Of those surveyed 30 per cent indicated they were undecided as to what party to vote for.

"This is the highest level of undecided vote we have recorded in our quarterly poll for the last five years and is significantly higher than that recorded this time last year," Mr Paske said.

After excluding the increased number of undecided voters, the EMRS State Voting Intentions Poll shows little change for the Liberal Party since the last poll was conducted in February 2013.

The Labor Party has received an increase with a five percentage point rise.

"Support for the Liberal Party has remained relatively stable at 54 per cent, the Labor Party has recorded an encouraging increase up 5 points since February 2013 to its highest level of support since November 2010, while the level of support for the Greens and Nick McKim as preferred Premier has decreased," Mr Paske said.

"Preferred Premier results remained similar to those seen in the February 2013 poll.

"Will Hodgman continues to have the highest level of support, with 46 per cent of all respondents nominating him as their preferred Premier, with support for Premier Lara Giddings now standing at 25 per cent, and Nick McKim receiving support from 10 per cent of those surveyed."



Three current news reports below

Conservatives' plan to dismantle carbon laws

TONY Abbott would prepare for a double-dissolution election within five months of taking office if parliament blocked the repeal of the carbon tax, under a 12-month action blueprint to transform the nation's environmental laws.

A working draft of the plan, obtained by The Weekend Australian and confirmed by opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt, sets key dates to merge federal departments, introduce a direct action plan to offset or reduce carbon dioxide emissions and confirms details of a 35-year Great Barrier Reef protection strategy.

The timetable outlines how the Coalition's environment plans would be implemented. The federal environment department would be instructed on day one of an Abbott government to prepare legislation to scrap the carbon tax. The legislation would be introduced to parliament on day 30 and preparations would be made for a double-dissolution election after five months if parliament did not agree to repeal the carbon tax.

The government can seek a double dissolution of parliament, in which an election is held for both houses, when the House of Representatives and the Senate fail to agree on a bill twice in three months.

While double dissolutions are often threatened by governments struggling to have legislation pass a hostile Senate, there have only been six double dissolutions since federation, with the last in 1975 that led to the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

Mr Hunt said yesterday the federal election would be a referendum on the carbon tax and Labor must respect the views of the electorate and not block its removal if it lost the next election.

He challenged Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to commit to honouring any election mandate to scrap the carbon tax should the Coalition be elected.

Mr Hunt said it was the Coalition's preference for parliament to scrap the tax. But he said Coalition policy was to hold a double dissolution election within 12 months if legislation to repeal it was blocked.

Even if it won government, the Coalition would not have the numbers in the Senate to guarantee passage of legislation in the upper house until at least six months after the federal election when the new Senate numbers took effect.

Mr Hunt said advice to the Coalition was that a double dissolution could be forced after eight months and an Abbott government was committed to doing so within 12 months if parliament did not agree to scrap the tax.

"It is our preference for parliament to accept our legislation," he said.

The implementation timetable builds on the Coalition's election blueprint for Australia, "Hope, Reward and Opportunity", which nominates five key policy areas, economy, communities, environment, border security and national infrastructure.

Mr Hunt confirmed the timetable, which he said had been prepared for the business community late last year.

The Business Council of Australia has mounted a strong campaign to streamline environmental regulations to cut "green tape", which it said was adding to costs and jeopardising major projects.

Julia Gillard had supported the BCA push to delegate environmental powers to the states, but the federal government abruptly withdrew its support for an immediate handover of powers at COAG last November.

Mr Hunt said the federal opposition was having "very serious discussions" with all of the Coalition states to quickly implement one-stop-shop agreements for environmental approvals.

"Some matters would be reserved where the commonwealth would be the one-stop shop but overwhelmingly it would be the states," Mr Hunt said.

The areas where the federal government would retain ultimate control include offshore commonwealth waters, nuclear matters and projects for which the state was the proponent.

Mr Hunt said the reef strategy was still being finalised but would include funding for nutrient run-off reductions, a crown of thorns starfish eradication program and a dugong and turtle protection plan.

Environment groups were concerned about a lack of detail on port development.  They said projected sediment from dredging was many times greater than what would be saved from expensive onshore run-off programs.


Survey finds a very "Green" public broadcaster

MORE than 40 per cent of ABC journalists who answered a survey question about their political attitudes are Greens supporters, four times the support the minor party enjoys in the wider population.

The journalism survey, the largest in 20 years, has found the profession is overwhelmingly left-leaning, with respondents from the ABC declaring double levels of support for the Greens compared with those from Fairfax Media and News Limited.

The survey of 605 journalists from around Australia found that just more than half described themselves as having left political views, while only 13 per cent said they were right of centre.

This tendency was most pronounced among the 34 ABC journalists who agreed to declare their voting intention, with 41 per cent of them saying they would vote for the Greens, 32 per cent declaring support for Labor and 14 per cent backing the Coalition.

In comparison, Greens voters represented 20 per cent of the 86 journalists who revealed their intentions both at News Limited, publisher of The Australian, and Fairfax. Labor was the most popular party at both major publishers, with 55 per cent support at Fairfax and 47 per cent at News Limited.

University of the Sunshine Coast senior journalism lecturer Folker Hanusch, who led the study, said the figures revealed a trend despite the small sample size.

"There is a statistically significant difference (from the ABC) to News Limited journalists and also Fairfax journalists, so we have a trend," Dr Hanusch said.

"Even though only a smaller number of journalists answered the voting intentions, which does increase the margin of error, it is still reasonable to conclude that there is a marked difference between the voting intentions of journalists at the three major media organisations. At least two-thirds of those journalists . . . would vote either Labor or the Greens. That's also interesting in terms of people accusing News Limited of a right-wing bias."

An ABC spokeswoman said the number of the broadcaster's journalists who responded to the survey was too small to draw any firm conclusions.

ABC radio presenter Mark Colvin described the result as "absolutely meaningless".

"Only a tiny proportion of ABC journalists were prepared to reveal their voting intentions," he said. "You don't know anything about the much larger percentage of ABC journalists who weren't prepared to reveal their voting intentions . . . it's absolutely ridiculous to draw conclusions from this survey on that subject."

About 61 per cents of all journalists surveyed agreed to disclose their voting habits, with 43 per cent saying they would give their first-preference vote to Labor, 30 per cent to the Coalition and 19 per cent to the Greens.

Among the 83 senior editors who took part in the survey, 43 per cent supported the Coalition, while 34 per cent backed Labor and 11 per cent supported the Greens. These figures closely matched the findings of last weekend's Newspoll, which put Coalition support in the wider population at 46 per cent, followed by Labor on 31 per cent and the Greens on 9 per cent.

Former Fairfax editor Michael Gawenda said the survey results mirrored his experience in journalism but could not be used as evidence of any bias in reporting.

Former Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Peter Fray said it suggested a larger group of ABC staff might be willing to reveal themselves as Greens supporters. "That goes to questions around culture," Fray said. "I suppose for certain people it will confirm their views of the various positionings of the three main media organisations."


Big floods not so bad after all

Greenies regularly hail floods and droughts as unmitigated disasters  -- ignoring their place in natural climate cycles.  One example of a positive outcome from an extreme weather event below

THE devastating 2011 floods have given farmers a huge boost with many drought-hit groundwater supplies completely refilled.

Queensland University of Technology researcher Matthias Raiber has found the Lockyer Valley, often referred to as Brisbane's food bowl, has benefited enormously with water supplies having recovered by an average 70 per cent.

Dr Raiber, from the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, said water quality had improved markedly on pre-flood conditions which had seen such a grim situation that farmers were drawing water that was so salty it stopped production of some crops.

The Lockyer Valley produced $230 million in agricultural products in 2010-11. 

Dr Raiber said the importance of groundwater was expected to increase in coming decades because rainfall patterns were tipped to become less predictable. He said this would impact on Australia's meagre surface supplies, which were stressed due to population growth, industry, agriculture and evaporation.

Researchers are trying to determine the extent of groundwater, which will help governments work out how much water can be drawn by irrigators.

Centre director Craig Simmons said most countries did not know how much groundwater they had or how long it took to recharge, which meant the resource could not be properly managed.

In other research, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility has found that most people whose homes were impacted by the 2011 floods did not intend to make changes to reduce vulnerability to future floods.

Lead author Deanne Bird said many residents made general improvements, such as installing their dream kitchen, rather than making their home more flood resilient.

"We saw communities getting on with their lives and largely driving their recovery with stoic endurance.

"This does not necessarily translate to adaptation to future events but it does reflect strong resilience in the community," Dr Bird said.

Sue Gordon, who runs the Gordon Country camp ground and cabins, in the Goomburra Valley on the Darling Downs said her property was flooded in 2011 and then earlier again this year but there was little that could be done to flood proof it.

"We lost kilometres of fencing," she said. "We'd only just had it repaired and we were hit again. What can you do? We've got cattle."

Ms Gordon said tourism businesses were severely damaged post floods by customers' perceptions.  "We got almost no bookings due to the belief we were not operating due to damage," she said.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Wilkie doesn't appear to get it. Tom IS above the Parliament. We all are. They are the servants of us, the Sovereigns. They have no business ordering him around like that, or any of us.