Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Carbon tax costs Qantas over $100 million

The Prime Minister urged Labor to help axe the carbon tax, rejecting claims by the Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese that the airline reportedly agreed to voluntarily pay the tax.

“This idea that Qantas somehow likes the carbon tax even though the carbon tax adds $106 million to its costs … is just crackers,” Mr Abbott said.

“Tell them they’re dreaming,” he added, directing the comment to Labor MPs.

Earlier Mr Abbott talked up the need to liberate Qantas during the Coalition joint party room meeting.

Channelling Ben Chifley’s “light on the hill’, Mr Abbott argued the government will be successful if it is principled.

“Our light is freedom, we are the freedom party,” he told colleagues.

Deputy PM Warren Truss conceded there is no guarantee their proposal to change the Sale Act will get through the Senate.

Mr Truss claimed both the Flying Kangaroo and Virgin are bleeding, but he warned if they were to back Qantas in a domestic war it would be unfair to its competitor.

Four colleagues are said to have congratulated Cabinet on its decision during the meeting


Why an ALP president pleaded guilty

Charges against the HSU National Secretary and former ALP President, Michael Williamson involved $20 million defrauded from the HSU (East) branch. But the fraudster pled guilty to an amount of only $1 million. Now why would that be?

Williamson, who has a cell phone super-glued to his ear, was gone anyway, and the penalty for stealing a sheep is not that dissimilar to stealing a lamb.

Prosecutors did a deal with Williamson’s counsel who bargained the amount down to a mere five percent of the amount stolen.

It was a win/win for Williamson and Labor as now there is no prosecution to unveil the depths of the filthy links between the two.

Williamson will serve time, he would have anyway, it was an open and shut case but now Labor and its union masters have been spared the public show of a prosecution process that would have unearthed the endemic fraud Labor has promoted and protected within its union base.

But the tactic will prove misplaced... at the time Williamson pled guilty there was no talk of a Royal Commission into unions, there is now!

Craig Thomson’s HSU hookers are small fish compared to Labor's numerous great white sharks.


Queensland’s hard line on bikie gangs and organised crime is getting results

AMID all the hyperbole and hand-wringing over the Queensland Government’s hard-line anti-bikie push, some tend to forget that the controversial Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill of last year is having a real and positive impact.

In short, the legislation is doing what it is designed to do, and that is to disempower organised criminal gangs, cripple their ability to organise, and ensure that gang members who choose to adopt a misguided “code of silence’’ in relation to suspected criminal activity face the most punitive of punishments.

There is proof, as The Courier-Mail reported yesterday, that the laws have already prompted overseas bikies to abandon planned visits, while half the state’s 41 clubhouses which police say were safe houses for guns, drugs, cash, and criminal conspiracies, are now deserted.

The local Hells Angels chapter, down to two men while their president is overseas, can no longer even muster enough members to break the anti-association laws that have already netted Victorian members on holiday, and the state’s Crime and Misconduct Commission is starting to get the whistleblowers the laws were designed to flush out.

That’s a win.

Critics of the crackdown have contended the new laws are far too broad.

The danger, the laws’ detractors argued, was that the punitive powers contained in the legislation could be extended to cover other organisations that the government of the day considered undesirable.  It was, they contended, a blunt weapon that allowed for considerable discretion more reminiscent of the darkest abuses of legislative power the state experienced during the Bjelke-Petersen era.

However the legislation was very deliberately, and necessarily, drafted to be wide ranging.

Outlaw organisations by their very nature tend to metamorphose and reinvent themselves to squeeze through holes in the law, using legal technicalities to escape prosecution.

A case in point here is the Government plan to use the VLAD laws to enable police to pursue paedophile rings.  There is no sane argument that can be mounted against deploying what are laws designed to bust organised crime to smash carefully structured groups of pedophiles.

When it comes to what these groups inflict on children they tick every box when it comes to vicious and lawless.

They are criminal organisations operating in the nether regions of depravity who are every bit as deserving of the full force of the law as those motorcycle gangs who believe they have carte blanche to produce and distribute drugs, engage in extortion and rampage through our streets at will.

Like other criminal rings, pedophiles have evolved and become ever more cunning, with the lone predators of years gone by often giving way to sophisticated and clandestine online groups dedicated to targeting, exploiting and sharing their victims.

If Queensland’s VLAD laws can be used to help the already sterling work of anti-child exploitation groups like the Queensland Police Service’s Task Force Argos, then the move should be welcomed.

And in this respect, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to actually get a grip on where Queensland Labor stands on the push to rid Queensland of organised criminal gangs.

Hiding behind somewhat nebulous vows to have legislation reviewed by committee does not in any way constitute solid or credible policy.

This is especially true given that it was the Bligh Labor government in 2011 that introduced the precursor to the VLAD laws in the form of its own controversial anti-association legislation.

The laws are, as Premier Campbell Newman has vowed, both temporary and subject to review.

Given that commitment, and a community expectation that what is now on the statute books will not be applied in an overly zealous fashion, then the early successes of the drive to break criminal bike gangs and extend the push to paedophile rings is deserving of support.


Media vultures circling Immigration Minister Scott Morrison are blind to facts

How quickly vultures in politics gather around. Just a whiff of injury and in they come, hoping for a carcass on which they can feed.

So it was with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's reporting on the recent riot at Manus Island and the death of a detainee. Morrison initially reported that the detainee who lost his life was outside the centre at the time of his injury.

Looking at the media generally, you could be forgiven for thinking that some time later Morrison found this information to be incorrect and simply waited until late on the following Saturday to correct the record.

This type of reporting is designed to convey an indifference by the minister to a death in detention. It is also designed to convey a trickiness on his part in the sense that releasing something at 9pm on a Saturday might limit the coverage the next day.

The trouble is that this type of reporting is a story looking, or hoping, for facts to back it up. Actually that might be a little generous to a few reporters because, for it to be true, they would need to have ignored the detail in Morrison's media briefings. Sadly, to be more precise, it is a story that ignores some important facts because they are inconvenient to a good "let's bash the Immigration Minister" story.

The media have tried to cast Morrison as the villain ever since

he decided to give weekly briefings on boat arrivals. It was a sensible decision to cut off day-to-day information from the people-smuggler networks. We are, of course, entitled to know what our government is doing. But we do not need to know every detail on a 24/7 basis. The media understandably want every little titbit of information to feed the voracious appetite of 24/7 reporting. But their annoyance at what they characterise as Morrison's decision to exclude them does not excuse sloppy or malevolent reporting.

Morrison immediately recognised that the riot at Manus Island with the death of a detainee was a different situation. Given the gravity of the circumstance, he properly decided that this should not wait for the normal weekly briefing. He held a media conference in Darwin. He also briefed the opposition. His initial advice was that the deceased person was not in the compound at the time of his injury. He told the media. Was he meant to keep it secret? It was the advice he had at the time.

It is true that he didn't preface the sentence about the detainee with the words "I am advised". But he did go on and say this: "What the government will be doing today and over the course of the days that follow is we'll be updating information as it becomes available to us and we can confirm that information."

He then held another media conference in Canberra later the same day. The issue of the location of the deceased person at the time he was injured was canvassed directly. Two comments of the minister stand out.

First: "In terms of the man who died, he had a head injury and at this stage it is not possible to give any further detail on that, including now, based on subsequent reports, where this may have taken place."

And then: "I am saying that there are conflicting reports and when I have a full picture on where the individual might have been, but that could be some time to determine because we anticipate that would be the subject of a police investigation."

Clearly on the same day he made a number of references to updating information and specifically clarified that there were now conflicting reports as to the location of the deceased at the time of his injury. Let me repeat, on the same day.

Subsequently, I am told late on the following Saturday, Morrison was able to say that the detainee had in fact been inside the compound at the time of his injury. He released the information to the media. They now portray this as trying to avoid scrutiny. Would he have done better to wait until Sunday morning? No doubt if he had, the media would be screaming that he had kept a material fact from them unnecessarily.

On calm reflection, the media claim of trying to avoid scrutiny by releasing information late on a Saturday doesn't stack up well. The information was in the Sunday papers, albeit without much if any commentary due to time constraints. That is what annoyed them, that they couldn't add their commentary. They had all of Sunday and beyond to do that - and did.

It will be some time before we get the full story on what actually happened. Being among and dealing with a riot is not like catching the bus to work. Things move fast. People will have been in different positions at different times and accounts will vary. There will be reports from immigration staff, contractors, PNG authorities, detainees and maybe civilians. With a death involved, perhaps not everyone will feel it is in their interest to be fully frank. We will have to wait some time.

By all accounts Morrison has faced the media much, much sooner than previous Labor ministers after riots at detention facilities. Strange that comparison gets little coverage.

Perhaps some in the media just can't stand the fact that the government's policies are bearing fruit. Quite a few media commentators refused to accept that Labor's dismantling of the strong border protection policies of the Howard government opened the floodgates. Labor spun out the line that the increased boat arrivals were due to "push" factors. It was garbage. It was a cruel hoax. Now, with strong policies, a strong minister and a government with some gumption, everyone can see the truth.

How many journalists let Labor run that stupid, pathetic excuse? Do they now feel guilty, or at least complicit in one of the greatest hoaxes a government has ever tried on?


No comments: