Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bishop, Iran discuss return of "asylum seekers"

Julie Bishop has begun high-level efforts to strike an agreement with the Iranian Government to repatriate its nationals whose refugee claims have been rejected by Australia.

The Foreign Affairs Minister told _The West Australian _ that she raised the involuntary return of boat people with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zarif in New York last month.

It is understood that Mr Zarif acknowledged that many Iranians arriving in Australia by boat were economic migrants with no genuine fear of persecution.

Ms Bishop will follow up her talks with Mr Zarif during a meeting with top-ranking Iranian diplomat Majid Bizmark at the Indian Ocean Rim Association meeting in Perth tomorrow.

Striking an arrangement with Tehran that would allow Iranians to be involuntarily sent home would be a major coup, given it has long eluded Australian governments of all political persuasions. Of the 6403 people in immigration detention, almost one-third - 1867 - are Iranian.

Though a large percentage of Iranian detainees have failed in their bid for protection visas, Australia has been unable to send them home because there is no diplomatic agreement in place to allow it.

In July, Ms Bishop's predecessor Bob Carr said Iranian arrivals were mostly middle class, from majority ethnic and religious groups and "motivated by economic factors and are not fleeing persecution".

Ms Bishop said she would use her meeting with Mr Bizmark to progress discussions she had with Mr Zarif in New York.

"During that meeting at the UN, I raised with Foreign Minister Zarif our concerns that we needed arrangements put in place for the involuntary return of illegal immigrants from Iran," she told _The West Australian _.

"It was agreed that the Iranian Government and the Australian Government would work together to discourage other Iranians from seeking to leave Iran."

It is believed Iran has indicated it could back a public information campaign in the country to discourage more asylum seekers heading to Australia.

Ms Bishop will also use the meeting to discuss people smuggling with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who will be making his first trip to Perth for the event.

As well as addressing people smuggling, Ms Bishop will use the summit to reboot complex negotiations over selling uranium to India.

The Gillard government reversed the ban on uranium sales to India in 2011 but negotiations for a nuclear safeguard agreement have slowed.


Let's get rid of all the useless wind farms

By TERRY MCCRANN Financial journalist

I STILL have a dream. Of that one day when we start pulling down all the utterly useless, landscape-blighting, bird-killing, people-punishing, so-called wind farms.

We'll leave a few, some stripped of their turbines, some left with a blade to turn lazily and even more uselessly in the occasional breeze; all, like fragments of the Berlin Wall, as testimony to the time when insanity engulfed our supposed intellectual and policymaking elites.

Why, we could even keep one as a particular memorial to a certain former prime minister and his "greatest moral challenge of our time". This one, shorn of its blades, to mark his squibbing of that challenge.

The Climate Change Authority's 177 pages of sheer drivel, released today, as disconnected from reality as an abandoned wind farm is from the grid, comes close to ranking as the high-water mark of this insanity.

Although it came after a pretty competitive week, after the hysterical fires fanned by the ABC and Fairfax media, and in particular down at Climate Frenzy Central, the Age broadloid newspaper.

For the Big C, as the CCA styles itself, was not content with just doubling down on the climate stupidity, it tripled down in its draft report.

Indeed, it was even gathering its collective loins, to quintuple down in its final, and hopefully FINAL, as in ever, report early next year.

Thanks to Julia Gillard and Bob Brown - endorsed so memorably by that in-chamber kiss from the squibber, Kevin Rudd - Australia is legally committed to cutting its emissions of carbon dioxide by 5 per cent by 2020.

Thankfully, the way the legislation was constructed, the 23 million individual Australians are excused from having to reduce their bodily CO2 emissions by that 5 per cent; or required as an alternative to buy the appropriate permit to emit.

Well, the CCA says that's "inadequate". It said, we've got to shoot for at least 15 per cent; and it left little doubt that it really thought 25 per cent was where we should be aiming.

That's hardly surprising given the troika of professorial climate hysterics, Hamilton (Clive), Karoly (David) and Quiggin (John) that are the CCA's core. It's only surprising they didn't persuade their fellow members to shoot for something more tangible - like closing down all our real power stations by 2020.

The central argument from the CCA for bigger CO2 emission cuts, was that "evidence is also mounting" that several other comparable countries were "gearing up" to reduce their emissions even more aggressively by 2020.

This was followed by the usual 'what will they think of us' bleat from the policy activist, that a 5 per cent target would leave Australia lagging behind others, including the US.

Well, Greg Sheridan at our sister paper The Australian, utterly shredded that claim two weeks ago, so far as action through an emissions trading scheme is concerned.

Of the 195 members in the UN Framework Convention on Climate, only 34 had anything resembling an ETS and 27 of those were in the European Union - where the way it rigged the measurement of CO2 cuts around the closing down of inefficient former eastern European industry, has run out of steam anyway.

Japan had effectively abandoned plans for an ETS, Sheridan wrote. South Korea had one but was going to issue all permits for free. Some of the biggest emitters, like Indonesia and India, actually subsidised carbon-based fuels.

Yes, the US has an impressive target. It also stumbled on shale oil and gas - like winning the CO2-cut lottery. But it does not have either a carbon tax or an ETS and never will.

But it all really comes back to the carbon elephant in the room: China. Which of course buys a lot of coal and iron ore from us and turns that into steel, a little bit of power and a lot of CO2.

It is this context that the CCA lives up to its claim of independence. It just failed to add, that was, independence from reason. The world it projects of robust action on cutting CO2 emissions is like an alternative universe - a universe that exists only in the delusions of especially Hamilton and Quiggin. But now it would appear also, of their fellow CCA members.

The report claimed that China was stepping up its efforts to "reduce emissions." And that it was "investing heavily in renewable energy projects, closing inefficient coal power plants".

The first is simply and completely untrue. As the fine print of the CCA report itself noted, China is only aiming to cut CO2 emission intensity not emissions per se. By cutting emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 per cent by 2020.

That might sound impressive, but given China's phenomenal pace of growth, its actual total emissions in 2020 will be significantly higher than they are today.

Do the math and the very best outcome would see China increase its emissions between now and 2020 by more than the total of Australia's emissions.

More realistic projections would see China increase its emissions by up to `10 Australia's.' That's to say, China would go up by perhaps 200 times as much as we cut at 5 per cent; by 67 times as much even if we cut by 15 per cent,

And that's assuming it actually met its target. It's not binding; and as even the Sydney Morning Herald has noted in an analysis from Reuters, China's actual carbon intensity was unchanged from 2009 to 2011.

The third CCA claim is a deliberate constructive lie. Yes, China is closing down old coal-fired power stations - to reduce REAL pollution, the dirty little bits of grit that really does kill people in poor energy-deprived countries.

But is replacing them with modern plants that pump out just as much CO2 plant food, but does it cleanly. Indeed, it's building far more than it replaces.

As the Economist Intelligence Unit noted in an analysis in July, China's CO2 emissions were headed for a 40 per cent INCREASE by 2020. Why? Because of rapidly expanding coal-fired power generation.

The CCA report is worse than a disgrace. It proposes wilful pain on all Australians and extraordinarily serious damage to the economy.

To cut emissions by 25 per cent in just seven years would require us to send the economy into recession, or write out multi-billion dollar cheques to foreigners, just for `permission' to keep our lights on and (any remaining) factories operating.

And all for utterly no point. Even if you believe the climate hysteria, it would make no difference to global or indeed Australian temperatures; and the CCA lies aside, the rest of the world is NOT following anyway.

The report could just as well have been written by Bob Brown and Christine Milne. It certainly channelled all their fantasies.


Students burn Tony Abbott effigy, chase Joe Hockey in heated protest outside Parliament

Just hate-filled Trots having fun again now there is a conservative government.  Real students would be busy studying for their exams at this time

STUDENTS have clashed with police in a dramatic protest outside State Parliament this afternoon over proposed federal funding cuts to higher education.

The protesters burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and threw shoes at Liberal Party headquarters in a rally against proposed federal funding cuts to higher education.

About 100 student protesters gathered outside parliament house in Spring St before the group marched into the city.

Some protesters chased Treasurer Joe Hockey who appeared on Spring Street around lunchtime.

The protest was organised by the National Union of Students, whose members recently sent hundreds of angry emails to Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

"Five people have been arrested following a protest in the CBD this afternoon," Victoria Police spokeswoman Natalie Webster said.

"Approximately 50 to 100 people marched through the CBD, stopping to protest at several sites including Parliament House, the State Library, a political party headquarters in Exhibition Street and ending at RMIT University.

"Police attended to ensure the safety of all involved, and provided an escort to persons entering and exiting the building.

"It's alleged several police members were assaulted during the incident, including one member who was allegedly punched to the face by a protester.  "He is currently receiving treatment in hospital for minor facial injuries.

"It's alleged some protesters also threw shoes and chalk at police and burned items in the street.  "Three men and two women are currently in custody and are assisting police with their inquiries.  "The protestors have left the street however police continue to monitor the situation.

"The investigation into the incident remains ongoing," she said.

First Nations Students Officer at La Trobe University Jay Wymarra said he was arrested and charged with arson for burning a cardboard cutout of Abbott.

"What they did was arrest me, shove me to the ground, put their knees in my neck and drag me away from the protest as far as they could," he said.  "We as students will not stand for this," he said

"We are not going to be told what to study, we are going to take a stand against it.

Mr Wymarra said the police were heavy handed. "It was all for perfectly peaceful means," he said. "We were trying to voice our opinions. They (the police) attacked us."  He said the students planned more demonstrations.

Matthew Lesh of the Australian Liberal Students' Federation condemned the disruption.  "They have every right to protest calmly and peacefully, but today's violence and disruption is despicable, and certainly does not represent students," Mr Lesh said.

"Students who are concerned about their education are busy studying today, not playing games, disrupting traffic, wasting police time."

The dramatic protest comes during a busy university exam period.


Sex injury compo bid rebuffed by High Court over 'lack of inducements'

Very fair and clear reasoning from the High Court  -- JR

There are days within the august surrounds of the High Court when even the most sober of Justices might struggle against an injudicious outbreak of levity.

The matter revolved around a claim for compensation by a female public servant from Canberra who, while out of town in the NSW coastal town of Nowra on a brief work trip, met a chap and repaired to her Commonwealth-paid motel bed for purposes other than sleeping.

There, in what was described in an earlier court as a "vigorous" bout of non-sleeping, a light fitting above the bed was ripped loose.  The unfortunate woman suffered facial injuries.

She complained also of psychological damage. We can only imagine. Evidence, sadly, does not extend to whether or not it was during the moment of rapture, or whether the vigorous companion of the night suffered anything similar.

The public servant, her name suppressed, sued Comcare for compensation. The matter wended its way through a tribunal and the Federal Court until it reached its zenith in the High Court.

The High Court on Wednesday issued a one-page summary of its finding. The Justices' musings upon whether the said "interlude" was "induced" by the woman's employer may prove a classic of the genre, and serve forever as a cautionary tale to travelling servants of the public or other bosses.

Herewith is the Justices' summary:

"Today the High Court, by majority, held that Comcare, the appellant, was not liable to pay compensation to a Commonwealth government employee who, whilst staying overnight on a work-related trip to a regional town, suffered injuries whilst engaging in sexual intercourse in the motel room her employer had booked for her.

"The respondent had been required by her employer to work for two consecutive days in a regional town away from her ordinary place of residence. She stayed overnight at a local motel which had been booked by her employer. Whilst at the motel, the respondent engaged in sexual intercourse with an acquaintance.

"In that process, a glass light fitting above the bed was pulled from its mount and struck the respondent on her nose and mouth, causing her physical injuries and a subsequent psychological injury.

"The respondent sought compensation from Comcare under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth) ("the Act"). She argued that her injuries were suffered "in the course of" her employment and that she was, therefore, entitled to compensation.

"The Administrative Appeals Tribunal ("the Tribunal") held that the respondent's injuries were unrelated to her employment. On appeal, the Federal Court of Australia set aside the Tribunal's decision. The Federal Court's decision was then upheld by the Full Court of the Federal Court.

"The Full Court held that the respondent's injuries occurred in an "interval or interlude" during an overall period of work and, therefore, arose in the course of her employment.

"An interval or interlude existed because the respondent's employer had induced or encouraged her to spend the night at a particular place – the motel. It was not necessary to show that the respondent's employer had induced or encouraged her to engage in the particular activity in which she was engaged when her injuries were suffered. By special leave, Comcare appealed to the High Court.

"The High Court allowed Comcare's appeal. A majority of the High Court held that in order for an injury sustained in an interval or interlude during an overall period of work to be in the course of an employee's employment, the circumstances in which the employee was injured must be connected to an inducement or encouragement by the employer.

"If the employee is injured whilst engaged in an activity at a certain place, that connection does not exist merely because of an inducement or encouragement to be at that place. When the circumstances of an injury involve the employee engaging in an activity at the time of the injury, the relevant question is: did the employer induce or encourage the employee to engage in that activity?

"On the facts of the respondent's case, the majority held that the answer to that question was 'no'."


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