Thursday, September 25, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is disgusted at the softball interview with Julia Gillard on channel 9

GreenPower at risk under RET changes

GreenPower is a voluntary Australian system whereby hard-core Greenies can buy their electicity from "renewable" sources even though it costs more.  It encourages the building of absurdities like windmills and solar farms, which is a deplorable waste of capital.  So it is good to hear the pips squeaking

The highly successful GreenPower program faces a precarious future if proposed changes to the Renewable Energy Target go ahead, according to the Property Council of Australia.

Buried in the controversial Warburton Review is a proposal to count energy purchased by GreenPower customers towards Australia’s renewables target.

Currently, GreenPower operates separately to the RET – providing purchasers with access to guaranteed, additional renewable energy.

GreenPower customers bought $80 million worth of energy last year – with over $40 million of that from the commercial sector. This additional investment would cease if purchasers find that GreenPower makes no difference to how much renewable energy Australia generates. 

Property Council Chief Executive, Ken Morrison, says industry is alarmed by the proposal – which would completely undermine the GreenPower program.

“GreenPower has been an effective market-based option for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint,” Mr Morrison said.

“Including GreenPower in the RET calculations would mean customers are paying for something already funded by the RET. It would become valueless to end users.

“The outcome would be the withdrawal of $80 million worth of private renewables funding every year. That’s a whopping blow to Australia’s renewable energy sector and would make our carbon abatement task even harder.

“Double-counting of GreenPower would have significant flow on impacts to other government and industry programs, such as the National Australian Built Environment Rating Scheme (NABERS) and GreenStar, which have endorsed the current GreenPower model,” Mr Morrison concluded.

The Property Council has supported the retention of the RET, including the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The property industry has been a significant investor in renewable energy and has a considerable pipeline of upcoming projects which risk being derailed by any weakening of the RET.


Victoria Police Shoot Dead Alleged Terror Suspect

An alleged terrorist suspect was shot dead by police in a Melbourne suburb, in the latest incident to raise concerns sympathizers of Islamist militants abroad are targeting Australians.

The 18-year-old man was killed late Tuesday outside of a police station in southeast Melbourne after stabbing two law-enforcement officers, Michael Keenan, Australia's Justice Minister, said on Wednesday.

An Australian Federal Police officer is in serious but stable condition in a hospital, Mr. Keenan told reporters, adding that an officer from the Victoria state police suffered less serious injuries and was in stable condition.

"This incident occurred during a police investigation and it appears that the shooting by the police officer was in self-defense," Mr. Keenan said.

Mr. Keenan said the young man was a known terror suspect who had been invited to attend the police station for a routine interview and had turned up on his own volition.

Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay told reporters Wednesday that the state-police officer shot the assailant after being stabbed in the arm. The AFP officer, meanwhile, suffered stab wounds to his head, neck and stomach, he said.

"We first became aware of this male about three months ago when he came into contact with Victorian Police," Mr. Lay said. "It's true to say late last week we learned of some behaviors that were causing us concern."

Intelligence indicating the individual had earlier been seen waving an Islamic State flag was being investigated by authorities, AFP Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin told reporters. The suspect's passport had been suspended about a week ago, Mr. Colvin said.

Tough new antiterror laws are set to be introduced in Australia's Parliament on Wednesday. They would allow the government to designate certain countries or regions as "no-go zones" from which returning citizens may need to prove they hadn't been engaged in terrorist activity.

The proposed laws are also intended to make it simpler for authorities, including police and spy agencies, to detain terrorist suspects and search their homes.

The Australian proposals come after 16 people were detained, and two charged, following police raids last week across suburbs in Sydney and Brisbane, aimed at defusing an alleged plot by Islamic State sympathizers to behead members of the public.

Australia, a close U.S. ally, raised its terror alert on Sept. 12 to the second-highest level, and warned that attacks inside the country were expected in response to recent events in the Middle East.

Islamic State, a radical Sunni group, has in the past month released videos showing the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines.

Mr. Abbott has ordered Australian warplanes and 200 special-forces soldiers to Iraq to join the U.S.-led global coalition planning airstrikes against Islamic State insurgents there.

Lawmakers in Canberra are also on high alert after local intelligence agencies last week intercepted correspondence allegedly showing Islamic State supporters may be planning to attack the country's Parliament.


Negative gearing is not just for the rich

THE vast majority of property investors taking advantage of negative gearing are “mum and dads” earning less than $80,000 a year, countering the long-held view that the property investment measure was a tax lurk for the rich.

Australian Taxation Office data shows that of the 1.266 million Australians who declared that the rental on their investment properties didn’t meet the interest repayment in 2011-12, 883,325 earned less than $80,000.

More than 70 per cent of people who accessed negative-gearing benefits, where losses on property investments can be deducted from taxable personal income, only owned one investment property. A further 18 per cent owned two investment properties.

About 60,000 clerical staff earning less than $80,000 benefited from negative gearing, as did 54,000 teachers, 46,000 sales staff and 35,590 nurses and midwives. Lizzy Hubbard, a 29-year-old teacher from The Ponds, in Sydney’s northwest, said negative gearing was helping her pay for an investment property she had purchased in Muswellbrook in the NSW Hunter Valley.

“I really did want to get into the property market, and I knew it would be difficult to get into,” said Ms Hubbard, who purchased her house when she was 25.

“I hadn’t moved out of home, but I knew I could get a steady income and one day I would be able to benefit from my investment.”

Ms Hubbard admitted she didn’t know the details of negative gearing, and had gone through Aussie Home Loans instead, but knew that an increased tax refund had made it easier to save and pay back her loan.

With no sign of a slowdown in house-price growth — investment bank UBS has forecast that tomorrow’s Australian Bureau of Statistics figures will show a 10 per cent year-on-year increase — calls to address affordability and the debate around the housing bubble will continue.

With a tax review likely over the coming months, a number of economists are already calling for negative gearing to be abolished or pared back to make property investment less attractive, leading industry groups to lobby for it to remain.

“Negative gearing works effic­iently over the life cycle of Australians, with younger people relying upon the concession with a shift towards positive gearing as people get closer to retirement,” said Nick Proud, the executive ­director of the Residential Development Council, which provided the statistics to The Australian.

“Individual investors incentivised by negative gearing have ­increased over the past 30 years and their emergence will reduce the future reliance on the pension.”

Mr Proud pointed out negative gearing applied in the majority of OECD countries and said its removal in Britain had not improved housing affordability.


Sir Lunchalot is still hungry for money

The ABC is attempting to defend a defamation case brought against it by corrupt former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald by arguing his "bad reputation" could not have been further damaged by claims made in a TV news broadcast.

Mr Macdonald, who has been found corrupt in three separate Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiries, says a 7pm ABC news broadcast last year falsely claimed he "made millions" of dollars from a coal deal involving corrupt former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

He contends he made no money from the deals and is seeking damages in the NSW Supreme Court because his reputation has been "gravely injured".

In a defence filed in court, the ABC says it broadcast a correction a day after the original report that said the ICAC had made "no finding that Ian Macdonald made any money from the deals".

But the ABC also says the report conveyed a range of other meanings, including that the ICAC found last year that Mr Macdonald was involved in "grand corruption",  "abused his position as a government minister" and was a dishonest witness.

The national broadcaster argues it did not defame Mr Macdonald because those claims are true and, under a defence known as contextual truth, any other meanings that may have been conveyed by the broadcast "do not further harm the reputation of the plaintiff".

If its defences are unsuccessful, the ABC says the court should take into account Mr Macdonald's "bad reputation" in assessing damages.

It argues that, at the time of the broadcast in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT – and the publication of the story online – Mr Macdonald had acquired "a reputation as a corrupt former NSW member of Parliament and government minister".

The news report on October 30 last year included footage of Mr Macdonald with a voice-over stating the former mining minister and his political ally, Mr Obeid, "made millions over mining deals in NSW. They were found to be corrupt and now face possible criminal charges".

In a report released in July last year, the ICAC found that Mr Macdonald, Mr Obeid and Mr Obeid's middle son, Moses, corruptly agreed in 2008 to create a coal tenement over the Obeids' Bylong Valley farm.

It recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions consider criminal charges against all three men.

The Obeids made $30 million from the deal. There was evidence before the ICAC of an arrangement for Mr Macdonald to receive a $4 million cut of the proceeds of the planned sale of the company which acquired a coal exploration licence over the property.

But the ICAC heard the sale did not go ahead and Mr Macdonald did not receive the money.

Mr Macdonald says the broadcast has brought him into "hatred, ridicule and contempt". He is seeking damages, including aggravated damages, and costs.

The former minister has been investigated in three separate ICAC inquiries and was found to have acted corruptly in each of them.

In July last year, the ICAC found the then energy minister corruptly solicited the services of a prostitute called Tiffanie as a "reward" for setting up meetings with state-owned energy company executives for businessman Ron Medich.

Mr Medich was later charged with murder in an unrelated case.

In August last year, the ICAC found that, in December 2008, Mr Macdonald corruptly awarded a coal exploration licence to a company then chaired by his "mate" and former union boss John Maitland.


Multicultural arsonist, it seems

The owner of a Rozelle convenience store destroyed by a fire that killed three people has now been charged with three counts of murder and two of attempted murder.

Adeel Khan, 44, was also charged with three counts of manslaughter and 17 charges relating to the damage to property caused by the fire in Darling Street on September 4.  One of those charges is setting fire for a financial gain, with police alleging the fire was deliberately lit.

Mr Khan, who was injured in the blast, was charged by detectives while he remains in Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

He was granted a bedside hearing where he was remanded in custody and will appear in court again in October.

Bianka O'Brien, 31, her baby son Jude and their neighbour Chris Noble, 27, all died in the Darling Street fire.  Three others were injured, including Mr Khan, who was discovered by fire crews trapped underneath a commercial fridge.

The fire tore through the convenience store, which he had owned for only months, the neighbouring mobile phone shop and the residential units above in the early hours of September 4.

Mr Noble's two flatmates and another resident, Anthony Carroll, who lived above the store managed to jump free from the building while it was on fire.

A large section of the Rozelle end of Darling Street was closed for almost a fortnight as police combed through the rubble and demolished a neighbouring store amid fears it too could collapse.


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