Monday, July 22, 2013

Leftist Government's proposed crackdown on fringe benefits tax for cars will see job cuts in Victoria

LABOR'S crackdown on the fringe benefits tax for cars would be dumped by the Coalition, Tony Abbott says, as jobs within the industry face the axe.

The Opposition says it will block the proposed changes to company-car tax rules which it says have already led to hundreds of job losses.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey made the announcement while visiting a Brisbane car dealership this afternoon.

"(We) can announce today the Coalition will oppose this and will not proceed with this,” Mr Abbott said. “It must not go ahead and it won’t go ahead under the Coalition.

"This greedy grab from the government is costing sales today and costing jobs today. Over the last few days of a $1.8 billion hit on motoring … it’s clear that this is a serious blow to an industry under pressure.”

Mr Abbott said changes to fringe benefits tax rules were "a bad idea badly thought through that will badly damage a sector of our economy".

He said Labor’s crackdown had already been felt across Australia and that in just 48 hours there had been 75 jobs made redundant at NLC leading, a trading halt on McMillan Shakespeare, and Qantas freezing motor vehicle purchases.

He said it was estimated that 35 per cent of all salary packaged vehicles are made by local manufacturers Toyota, Ford and Holden.


Qld. State Government will consider mandatory jail terms for people who assault police officers

THEY'VE punched and kicked, urinated on and even dangled police officers from balconies - and then they've walked from court and gone home.

The State Government will look into sentences handed to people who attack police officers to see whether they should again increase penalties.

Police Minister Jack Dempsey said he would push for mandatory jail terms if the review showed offenders were getting off lightly.

More than 2600 Queensland police officers were attacked during the 2011-12 financial year - an average of seven a day.

Of those, 713 were serious assaults, 17 led to charges of assault occasioning bodily harm and three resulted in assault occasioning grievous bodily harm charges.

In one case, a Townsville man avoided jail after pushing a female officer down a flight of stairs and urinating on her.

The constable had been trying to help a drunken Ellian Stewart Terare, 25, when he pushed her, dancing and laughing as he urinated on her feet and pants.  He was sentenced in April to three months' jail, wholly suspended for 12 months, with a $550 fine.  Police have lodged an appeal, saying the sentence was inadequate.

In another instance, a violent rapist who had previously been jailed on 11 occasions walked from court after pleading guilty to eight offences - including the serious assault of a police officer.

Bowman Charles Davidson, 38, became enraged when police arrived at his Caboolture home to question him about dodging a train fare and he wrestled an officer over his balcony railing.

He had been in custody for 11 months when a judge last year sentenced him to two years' jail for the eight offences, but released him on immediate parole.

In other cases:

* Mackay woman Cinnamon Woods was 18 and grossly intoxicated when she kneed a police officer in the face, breaking his nose, as he and a paramedic tried to help her. She was given a four-month suspended jail term and ordered to pay the policeman $750 in compensation.

* Beauty and the Geek contestant Tamika Chesser was fined $800 but not convicted after she punched a police officer during a drunken night out in Surfers Paradise in 2011.

* British engineer Jarrad Peter Sadler was spared a conviction and given a $350 fine for punching a female police officer in the back because of concerns a harsher penalty would prevent him from gaining Australian residency.

Mr Dempsey said the State Government last year doubled the maximum penalty for serious assaults on police officers from seven to 14 years and introduced a new offence for the murder of a police officer - a charge carrying a 25-year non-parole period.

"I believe a large majority of the community sees any attack on a police officer as a disgraceful act," he said.

"We will revisit the statistics later this year to see if change to penalties has had a positive impact, both on sentencing and lower assault figures.  "If it has not, we will consider tougher sentences, including minimum mandatory options."


Labor prepares for High Court challenge on asylum-seeker plan

FOREIGN Minister Bob Carr has declared a re-elected Labor government would be prepared to legislate its new asylum-seeker solution in preparation for a possible High Court challenge.

Senator Carr also left open the prospect of the government seeking to broker similar bilateral deals with other Pacific nations to provide further assurance that asylum seekers who come to Australia by boat were settled in third countries.

Senator Carr today criticised the High Court's decision to overturn the so-called Malaysian solution in August 2011 as "forward leaning" and warned that it was up to the government of the day - with the backing of federal parliament - to make the final decisions on where asylum seekers were processed.

"I think the position of the vast majority of the Australian people is that, subject to some room for judicial oversight and review, it is the executive government backed by the parliament that ought to make the final decision on whether people be processed on Australian soil or somewhere else," he said.

Senator Carr confirmed that if Labor won the election it might be necessary to legislate the scheme "in response to a High Court decision". But he stressed the government had taken steps to ensure its new plan was on strong legal ground.

"We've designed this with the High Court response to the Malaysian arrangement very much in mind," he said. "We believe that this is legally very robust."

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said he was confident the deal would withstand a High Court challenge.

"We have given very careful consideration to this arrangement with Papua New Guinea. We have the advantage of recent decisions of the High Court on which to base the course that we are adopting here,” he told the Ten Network’s Meet the Press program.

"This arrangement with Papua New Guinea complies with our international obligations under the refugees convention and it complies with Australian law.”

Appearing on Sky News' Australian Agenda program, Senator Carr argued that a re-elected Labor government would be able to claim a mandate for its new plan to resettle asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea.

He said this would give Labor a strong chance of passing its scheme through the parliament and succeeding where the Malaysian people swap deal failed.

"The Opposition have said that they support it," he said. "Were we to win the election and it be considered necessary or prudent to have it go to the parliament then we'd be able to count on their support."

Senator Carr also said that there was no limit to the number of asylum seekers that could be resettled in PNG and that it would apply equally to women and unaccompanied minors.

He flagged the prospect of further Pacific nations signing up to the deal, saying the issue would come up in talks during his visit to the Solomon Islands next Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I won't be twisting arms, but I'm sure this will figure in conversation," he said. "They'll be looking at what Peter O'Neill has done for PNG in this and inevitably considering whether it makes sense for them. We're happy at that point to begin talking to them."

Meanwhile, climate change minister Mark Butler admits there's some discomfort within Labor ranks about Mr Rudd's asylum-seeker policy.

Mr Butler, a member of the Labor left, said it was however accepted that the boat people issue could not be allowed to continue on as it had been.

"There would be people within the Labor movement and the Labor party and the broader community who would feel uncomfortable with this," he told Sky News.

"In my discussions with some people over the last couple of days, although there is a level of discomfort about some aspects of this, there is also a very strong and clear recognition that something very different needs to be done."

Under the policy announced on Friday, all asylum seekers arriving by boat will be transferred to PNG for processing.

If found to be asylum seekers, they will be settled in PNG not Australia. If not found to be asylum seekers, they will be returned to their home country or a third country.

Mr Butler said the numbers arriving, the ruthlessness of people smugglers in endangering even very small children on leaky boats and the numbers being lost indicated this could not continue.

"Yes there is a level of discomfort I am sure in parts of the Labor Party and the Labor movement but there is a very strong recognition that this sort of game changer is needed to start to arrest the numbers of people coming over from Indonesia is particular," he said.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said if elected, an Abbott government would try to make the deal with PNG work.

However, they couldn't strike such a deal from opposition, he added.

Mr Hockey also alleged people sent to PNG by Labor could end up on Centrelink and Medicare "for the rest of their lives" and that the advertising blitz to promote its deal before an election was "outrageous".

"Mr Rudd said back in 2007 that government advertising just before an election is a 'cancer' and he wanted to stop it," he told Network Ten on Sunday.

"Well, the cancer is alive and well under Kevin Rudd."


Conservative party conference adopts proposal for 'cracker night' in Queensland

A FIREWORKS night to rival Guy Fawkes Day is on the agenda in Queensland, and it's all in the name of tourism.

The Liberal National Party, after a close vote, adopted the proposal on the last day of its three-day state conference in Brisbane.

The plan was hatched by the younger party members, many of whom were not alive to see the maimings associated with firecrackers before sales were banned in the 1970s.

Young LNP state president Hermann Vorster urged the government to now adopt the policy and believes the "Cracker Night" could be a boon for tourism.

"I think more than anything this is about sending a message that we don't necessarily subscribe to the notion of the nanny-state," Mr Vorster said.

"If something is safe and can be done in a reasonable way and it is in keeping with reasonable expectations, then I guess we ask, as the Young LNP, why not?"

Mr Vorster had the support of Senator Ian MacDonald who believes the handling of fireworks could teach parents and children to be more careful and take responsibility.

"I don't want to confess that I'm old enough to have remembered when we had Guy Fawkes night, but it was great fun," he said.

Despite their success with "Cracker Night", the young Libs didn't have enough support to get two other controversial policies across the line.

Random illicit drug testing for long term unemployed and welfare recipients was voted down, as well as removing Australian content quotas for free-to-air television.

The party agreed to ban all sports gambling on free-to-air television and increase mobile coverage to address blackspots.

The party faithfull gave a long and warm welcome to Premier Campbell Newman, who started his speech with "Queensland is a place where all your dreams come true."

His 30-minute address covered achievements over the last 16 months, such as reducing red tape and approving major projects.


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