Thursday, April 03, 2014

Union cops $1.2m fine over Vic blockade

AUSTRALIA'S biggest construction union has been hit with an "unprecedented" $1.25 million fine for illegally blocking workers from Melbourne building sites.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) was fined and ordered to pay costs for ignoring court orders which outlawed the blockades.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Anthony Cavanough said only the hefty fine would do justice to the blatant defiance of the court.   "I regard the contempts as exceptionally serious, so much so that they warrant explicit classification as criminal contempts, perhaps for the first time in the Australian industrial context," he said.

The union said it was not seeking to put itself above the law, but to save lives on building sites.  "Building workers need someone on site who genuinely represents their interests, and that doesn't happen when that person is hand-picked by the boss," a CFMEU statement said.

The CFMEU has maintained its conflict with Grocon was over safety issues.  The union began a blockade of Grocon's Emporium site in the Melbourne CBD in August 2012, stopping workers from entering for about two weeks and choking peak-hour traffic.

It was fined $1 million for the four days it defied a court order to cease the blockade, including the day unionists clashed with police as about 1000 people gathered outside the site.

Justice Cavanough also fined the union a further $250,000 for preventing vehicle access at a site in Footscray in September 2012 and another in Collins Street in Melbourne in April 2013.

Grocon called the ruling a defining moment for the construction industry.  "It should be clear to the Victorian CFMEU that old-style bullying and intimidation has no place in a modern workplace or the broader union movement," a company statement said.

"The construction industry must take a stand to eradicate this sort of lawless behaviour and require all players to simply obey the law."

Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the fines sent a strong message to the union.  "It's the strongest ruling of its kind against a union in Australia," he said.

Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said no one was above the law.  "What went on was appalling behaviour. It should not happen again," the Labor leader said.

The ruling has prompted renewed calls for the Senate to pass legislation to bring back construction watchdog the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Describing the fines as unprecedented, federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz accused Labor of running a "protection racket" for unions.  "Bill Shorten and Labor, together with the Australian Greens, are blocking the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the creation of a Registered Organisations Commission."

The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) and the Master Builders also called for the return of the ABCC.

Documents tendered to the court show the CFMEU Victorian/Tasmanian branch had the means to pay the penalty.

The branch had cash at bank and short-term deposits of $12.38 million with net assets of $51.93 million, according to the documents.


An apologetic tone this time

The latest IPCC report has got a lot of publicity wordwide.  In Australia, the most Leftist newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, had a real blast with 3 articles derived from the UN report. 

What is notable, however, is the apologetic nature of the coverage.  They admit we have heard all this before and admit it is exaggerated.  They clearly have no hope of new converts to Warmism. 

One such article is given below and there is another one  here

In the lobby of the Sydney aquarium where the Australian launch of the UN’s latest climate change report was released on Monday is a terrifying great white shark.

The beast measures 7.5 metres long with a razor-toothed mouth so big it could easily swallow a human whole. It looks at least as big as the fibreglass monster used in the movie Jaws.

Thankfully, the aquarium shark is only a model. In real life, the biggest great white ever reliably measured was 6.4 metres. That’s still a whopper; the average mature specimen is four to five metres.

Why make a ridiculously outsized model for an aquarium? For effect, of course, to get the paying public in. Give ‘em a good scare.

Some of the authors of part of the latest climate report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have done something similar:

“In short, human-driven climate change poses a great threat, unprecedented in type and scale, to well-being, health and perhaps even to human survival.”

They might be able to argue the threat to well-being and health, but human survival? A temperature rise, even at the extreme end of projections, of four to five degrees Celsius, does not plausibly threaten homo sapiens with extinction.

The three scientists who wrote this summary for the website The Conversation are Anthony McMichael of ANU, and Colin Butler and Helen Berry of the University of Canberra. They contributed to the report’s chapter on health effects of climate change.

Presumably they’re trying to help the cause of addressing climate change, using outlandish fears to attract attention. More likely they will undermine it by scaremongering.

The two scientists who conducted the report’s Australian launch on Monday, both lead authors of the official IPCC report, would not defend the extinction claim.

One, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of Queensland University’s Global Change Institute, politely described it as “extreme.”

A credible advocate of action, the Climate Institute’s John Connor, used the same word – “extreme” – when asked what he thought of the claim of the possible extinction of humanity.

Perhaps the three are frustrated by the pace of official action to limit carbon emissions. That’s understandable. The carbon concentration in the global atmosphere hit 400 parts per million last year, the highest in millions of years, according to ice core samples, and continues to rise at an average pace of two parts per million a year.

“We are on an inexorable march to 450 ppm and much higher levels” remarked a NASA scientist and program manager, Michael Gunson. “These were the targets for stabilisation suggested not too long ago. The world is quickening the rate of accumulation of CO2, and has shown no signs of slowing this down.”

The only serious way carbon output can be prudently managed is by the world’s governments.

Global government action has to catch up with change in the planet. But hysteria and exaggeration from concerned scientists won’t help. It will only damage their cause.

The three scaremongers undercut the work of the other scientists, the 309 lead authors and the other 433 contributing authors of Monday’s report.

The overall thrust of the IPCC report is credible and resists overreach.

It projects, for instance, that an extra two degrees of warming could lead to the loss of 2 per cent of global GDP, rather than the 5 per cent forecast by one of the earlier estimates, that of Britain’s Nicholas Stern.

And there’s certainly no need to exaggerate the dangers. The world is on a carbon trajectory for 4 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels.

This will pose “large risks to global and regional food security,” the IPCC warns, and “compromise normal human activities like growing food or working outdoors for some parts of the year.”

And it’s not all about the future; many effects are already upon us. In its annual report on world climate, the World Meteorological Organisation pointed to unusual weather events from Cairo’s first snowfall in a century to the widest US tornado on record.

Every continent, including Antarctica, saw some sort of record-breaking weather. The WMO said no single event could be attributed directly to climate change:

“But many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result” of man-made climate change, said the organisation’s secretary general, Michel Jarraud.

Its report included, for the first time, a separate sub-section on Australia. It pointed out that national 12-month temperature records were set for the periods ending in three consecutive months last year – in August, another in September, and a third October, topped off by a new record for the calendar year 2013.

These record Australian temperatures were notable because they occurred during a phase of the El Nina cycle that normally brings cooler conditions, not hotter.

Drawing on the work of Sophie Lewis and David Karoly of Melbourne University’s Centre of Excellence on Climate System Science, the report simulated conditions for 13,000 different climate years considering natural factors only.

They found Australia’s record hot 2013 would have been “virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change.”

The world’s people need to know the science, so they can demand action from the world’s politicians. For scientists to scaremonger just gives recalcitrant politicians an easy way to laugh them off.

There’s no good reason to jump the shark.


Bolt to get more airtime

 Outspoken News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt will replace Charlie Pickering on The Project.

Bolt, who is in his fourth year as host of The Bolt Report, will join Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar at the desk after Pickering departs next week.

The surprise move is designed to make the show more ‘watercooler’ and help lift TEN’s primetime ratings share, and follows Bolt’s Sunday morning show being quietly extended from 30 to 60 minutes this year.

Charlie Pickering announced his departure earlier this month but while no permanent replacement was announced, TV Tonight understands testing has been underway at TEN’s Como building in South Yarra.

A TEN insider said, “Love him or loathe him, Andrew Bolt gets people talking and right now TEN realises that’s just what they need. Steve Price has worked well for the show so Bolter is the next logical step. It will all make sense after the Murdoch camp buys the network for a song.”

Roving Productions is understood to have agreed to more coverage of the Abbott government policies and less talk on climate change, while asylum seeker issues are off the table unless the story can elicit some tears from Carrie Bickmore -considered by producers to be ‘ratings gold.’

Bolt was coaxed into joining the show in order to take on “that reckless, unapologetic ABC”, before realising the public broadcaster actually out-rates Network TEN.


Immigration staff working without vital data

Rudd/Gillard clearly didn't WANT immigration to have better data

Public servants using a massive electronic watch list to stop war criminals and visa fraudsters coming to Australia still cannot use a biometric data such as fingerprints and facial images even after millions of dollars was given to their department to make it happen.

The department's attempt to set up a steering committee to improve the watch list failed because of a lack of interest and management oversight, a fresh audit report says.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff are still being forced to identify visa applicants using biographical sources which have “a varying degree of reliability”.

It said $83 million for a biometric watch list and other initiatives using the same data was handed to the department between 2004 and 2010.

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The revelation comes as the Coalition touts the success of Operation Sovereign Borders after more than 100 days have passed without an asylum seeker boat arriving.

The wealth of biometric information Australia has collected from detainees and overseas visa applicants since 2006 would give greater certainty to staff assessing a rising number of applications and fraudsters armed with better technology.

Bureaucrats are doing just over 30 million traveller checks a year now and will need to deal 50 million by 2020.

The Australian National Audit Office's (ANAO) report stopped short of recommending the inclusion of biometric testing in the watch list.

It did say biometrics would enhance the system and noted the department has been looking into the use of biometrics for at least 15 years.

The same report found large improvements in the watch list, particularly the overall accuracy of data.

But there were other weaknesses.

Only two out of five recommendations from a 2008 audit were implemented as of last year, even though ANAO and a parliamentary committee had been told the recommendations were substantially completed.

“More focused senior management oversight could have been directed to the implementation of the recommendations," the report said.

People and documents on the list, known as the central movement alert list (CMAL), remain for as long as 120 years but are not subject to systematic reviews to upgrade data deficiencies which might unnecessarily inconvenience travellers.

The latest audit report, completed late February, also found the department still did not collect information showing where the watch list had been used in visa and citizenship decisions.


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