Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Peaceful" rally from which 14 people were removed for breaching the peace

Logic flies out the window where Muslims are concerned

Hundreds of people have gathered at a rally in Sydney's west in protest over negative coverage of Islam and treatment of the prophet Mohammad.

While police said more than a dozen people were moved on from the rally for breaching the peace, the event was peaceful.

Among the 800-strong crowd in the Muslim enclave of Lakemba, placards were held up with the slogan: "Je Suis Muslim" or "I am Muslim", evoking the same sentiment that became a touchstone for many in the wake of attacks in Paris.

Organisers of the Our Prophet, Our Honour rally said it was intended to be "a peaceful and respectful event" to counter negative coverage of Islam and the lampooning of the Prophet by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Speaking at the rally, outside the Lakemba train station, local Muslim leader Sufyan Badar told the crowd it was also in response to the waves of protests in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Mr Badar said the protests in the name of free speech had nothing to do with freedom. "We also gather to place the politics of the events in France in the correct context," he said.

"Freedom is the smokescreen with which Western politicians and media conceal the underlying issues.  "In reality free speech is one of the many political tools that are used to maintain dominance over the Muslims."

Earlier, Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned against the rally being used to incite terrorism, saying he hoped few people would attend.

Mr Abbott said called on more Muslim leaders to distance themselves from "evil things that are done in the name of Islam".

Hamzah Qureshi, a spokesman for the controversial group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which helped organise the event, questioned the prime minister's comments and the suggestion the event could incite violence.

"No one should be asked to apologise for or distance themselves from something they are not responsible for," Mr Qureshi said.

"I would, however, mention that it's interesting that the question of whether a Muslim event will be peaceful or violent consistently seems to come up."

Police later said in a statement that the event had been concluded peacefully, although 14 people were removed for breaching the peace. No charges were laid.


Suppressed evidence got aggressive South Australian cop off the hook

The case was largely one man's word against another so the credibility of the cop was central.  We appear to have evidence, however, that he perjured himself.  Subsequent to his acquittal, he obtained a legal order to suppress the report below of that evidence -- so he himself knows how crucial the extra evidence is.  The case should go to appeal

JURORS in the Norman Hoy trial were never told that, in the moments after Yasser Shahin drove away, the police constable was recorded calling the millionaire businessman "a dick" who "made it big".

The Advertiser can now reveal prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to have another section of Const Hoy's audio recording played to the jury, saying it ran contrary to the evidence he gave under oath.

The legal stoush over the recording - parts of which were listened to by more than 27,000 people on - can be reported following Const Hoy's acquittal yesterday.

In his evidence, Const Hoy said he did not know who Mr Shahin was during their abrasive September 2010 encounter, and the businessman's identity only "sunk in" 15 minutes later.

That testimony, on January 19, prompted prosecutor Nick Healy to ask the jury be sent out of court so he could raise an issue with Judge Paul Rice.

He said his concern centred on the extended version of the audio recording Const Hoy had made of the alleged incident, which had been played for the jury numerous times.

"As Your Honour may or may not be aware, the audio that was recorded by Const Hoy was considerably longer," he said after jurors left court.  "There is a considerable amount of audio there and, indeed, a conversation with his sergeant that appears to be at the scene immediately after Mr Shahin leaves.

"It's actually Const Hoy who advises his sergeant `it's the Shahin family', the sergeant says `who are they?' and Const Hoy says `they made it big on Smokemart and all this'.

"Then there is considerable conversation talking about `they've got all these houses in Burnside and they want to build a mansion up there'."

Mr Healy asked the jury be played the section but Marie Shaw, QC, for Const Hoy, objected. She said counsel had agreed, prior to the trial, that only the section recounting the incident itself would be played.

Mr Healy said the situation had changed.  "That evidence was not to be led on the basis this witness would not get in the box and start denying, if you like, any contemporaneous knowledge of who Mr Shahin is," he said.

"There's a fair bit of evidence to the contrary, and a subsequent conversation with his sergeant includes when Const Hoy says Mr Shahin was `being a dick'."

Ms Shaw insisted that conversation occurred 15 minutes after Mr Shahin left the scene, which Mr Healy said was "news to me". Ms Shaw accused the prosecution of "ambushing" her client.

"What is the Crown seeking to do with this evidence? Pluck out bits and pieces of this conversation to attack Const Hoy on the way he discussed it with his sergeant?" she asked.

Judge Rice upheld Ms Shaw's objection, saying he did not "think it was proper" the additional section of the recording be played to jurors.

Original report here

Will Annastacia Palaszczuk be an Anna Bligh Mark II?

Comment on the upcoming Queensland State election.  Bligh was the previous ALP Premier. Palaszczuk is the aspiring one.  There is no doubt Bligh was out of her depth

The blunt reality is that Bligh’s government was one of the worst in Queensland history. Neither the Premier Bligh nor her government was up to the job. Its defeat last election was primarily because of its incompetence. It is little wonder that eight key members of the Bligh team, including six former Ministers, retired at the state election. They simply gave up on Bligh and Queensland Labor.

The theft of $16 million of public funds under Labor’s noses by a Queensland Health employee was the last straw in a history of incompetence that ranges from the health payroll debacle to poor financial mismanagement that led to the loss of Queensland’s cherished AAA credit rating. There was 16 million reasons for Queenslanders to vote against Bligh.

Many senior Labor figures found the Bligh government so embarrassing that they distanced themselves from it at an alarming rate.

When former premier Peter Beattie handed over to his deputy, Bligh, in September 2007, the popular Labor government enjoyed a two-party preferred vote of 59 per cent and a primary vote of 50 per cent. The transition followed years of Beattie promoting Bligh over other ministers into tough portfolios to enhance her experience.

At the time it was regarded as an ideal transition. Bligh enjoyed strong public support until her policies and performance showed a rapid decline. It was a serious error of judgment on Beattie’s part to promote Bligh when there were more talented choices available, including John Mickel and Rod Welford. It seemed Beattie was more interested in putting Queensland’s first female premier into office than promoting the best candidate.

State Labor’s problems started when Bligh became more focused on image than on performance. Her promotion of inexperienced supporters like Kate Jones into cabinet at the expense of senior colleagues (such as Mickel, who is now Speaker; former police minister Judy Spence; former attorney-general Kerry Shine; and former ministers Lindy Nelson-Carr, Robert Schwarten and Margaret Keech) was designed to make her government look good but took its toll in poor administration in transport, health, infrastructure delivery and water, and in the cost of electricity.

Bligh’s failure to sack former health minister and close friend Paul Lucas over the health department’s payroll fiasco showed personal loyalty had precedence over performance.

There also was not enough focus on detail. Instead, Bligh concentrated on managing the latest political disaster. The damage from this crisis management soon became irreparable. Also, many members of Bligh’s cabinet were bone lazy. Government ministers were rarely seen at business events in Brisbane or in key regional centres and LNP frontbenchers were being openly courted as future ministers.

The Bligh government lost the links with business vigorously developed by Wayne Goss and Beattie. It was a pale imitation of past Labor governments. The fat bureaucratic structure of super departments was so cumbersome that one director-general was responsible to several ministers, making the public service process-driven rather than outcome-focused.

Besides, the quality of directors-general slipped as Bligh appointed favourites or ideological fellow travellers over quality candidates. This resulted in a failure to properly oversee projects such as the desalination plant on the Gold Coast and the water grid; cost overruns on infrastructure; the protection of farmland from the expansion of the gas industry until it was too late; failure to build cyclone-proof infrastructure along the coast before last summer’s cyclone season; and accepting without question the recommended electricity price hikes from the regulator.

The government also blindly followed Treasury’s line to abolish the fuel subsidy, which means Queenslanders now pay more for fuel.

The Bligh government ran away from tough decisions on matters such as the 10 per cent mandatory level of ethanol in fuel; taking the fight to Kevin Rudd’s federal government over the building of the Traveston dam; and the use of recycled water.

Crucially, it caved in to union demands for budget-breaking enterprise bargaining deals that helped drive the state over the financial brink. This was the underlying reason for the state’s loss of its AAA credit rating.

The only tough decision the Bligh government made was on the sale of government assets such as railways to fund the budget shortfall. But even here Bligh made a hash of its implementation by not putting the issue to the people in the 2009 state election, thus costing her valuable credibility. The deal also meant Bligh sold off Queensland’s most profitable parts of Queensland Rail and kept the unprofitable parts.

On last election night, Labor seats fell to the LNP throughout the regions because of how the QR sale was handled. The Bligh government was guilty of 4 1/2 years of dysfunctional administration and Queenslanders knew it. Deputies were often promoted beyond their abilities into the top job.

Bligh was such a deputy and state Labor paid the price and would do so again as they are not ready to govern in Queensland just yet.


Massive review into workplace laws to examine penalty rates and the minimum wage

Penalty rates, the minimum wage and the workplace flexibility of 11.5 million Australian workers will come under the microscope in a sweeping review of the industrial relations system.

In an interview to mark the launch of five issues papers that set out the key areas the inquiry will put under the microscope, Productivity Commission chief Peter Harris has promised the review of Australia's workplace laws will "bust myths" in the broadest review of IR laws in a generation.

The long-awaited review of Australia's workplace laws will examine the effect of the minimum wage on employment, how penalty rates are set and what economic effect the loadings have on business and employees.

The issues papers were accidentally published online on Thursday ahead of the embargo being lifted.

The review was meant to be published on the Commission's website at midnight but went live on the homepage on Thursday morning and was seized on by at least two Labor MPs who tweeted a link to it, breaking the embargo.

Enterprise bargaining, individual agreements between employers and employees, unfair dismissal, anti-bullying laws and public sector employment issues will all be examined too.

Mr Harris stressed the "human dimension" of the labour market would be considered by the economically dry Commission and that "no nation aspires to be a low wage economy. This is not a review aimed at cutting wages or removing conditions".

"When we look at the minimum wage for example, we won't be looking at the minimum wage in isolation, we will be asking questions, what can we demonstrate in Australia about its impact on employment?"      

"Whether or not there is an impact from the minimum wage on employment  - we will try and prove up that, or determine it is a myth."

Mr Harris predicted lots of submissions from employer groups calling for more flexibility in the workplace but cautioned "it's worth bearing in mind that employers also want certainty" and that the "flexibility to do what" was something that needed to be better defined.

"We'll be considering this from the perspective that almost all of us have a stake in this system, those of us aged between 15 and 64, roughly speaking, either want to participate in the system and are training to do so or are participating in the system."

The findings of the review, which are due in November 2015, are expected to help frame the Coalition's second term IR policy. The review, a pre-election promise from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is launched against a backdrop of a push from the backbench and business groups for cuts to penalty rates and greater workplace flexibility.

The paper states that the inquiry is not "intended to maximise the benefits to any particular group" and that the Commission will consider the social and economic aspects of the workplace system.

The paper also notes there is "little consensus on the effects of modern changes in minimum wages on employment and equity," and promises to attempt to "unravel this contested area of economics".

It notes Australia has a high minimum wage rate relative to median earnings when compared to other OECD countries  – though this is declining – and points out significant variations from state to state in the minimum wage relative to average weekly wages.

The current minimum wage in Australia is about $33,000 a year, or $16.87 an hour.

On penalty rates, the paper notes that 116 of 122 modern awards specify penalty rates, albeit at different levels and that "while there are relatively few contentions about additional payments for overtime and shift work, there are polarised views about the appropriateness of weekend penalty rates in some sectors".

Submissions are invited on how penalty rates are determined, what changes could be made to the system and on whether wages would fall if penalty rates were deregulated.

The situation in the UK, New Zealand and the US, where penalty rates are generally not required on the weekend, are also to be taken into account by the review.

The National Employment Standards, which govern entitlements such as long service leave – the conditions of which vary from state to state – will also be examined.

The release of the issues paper will help frame a political fight between the Coalition, business, the opposition and unions over workplace policy.

Labor employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor called on the government to "immediately rule out attacking Australian workers' penalty rates, allowances, the minimum wage and other working conditions".

"Earlier this year I said WorkChoices was merely sedated, not cremated as the Prime Minister had promised. Well, the sedative has worn off," he said.

"The last 'review' that examined workplace laws was the Abbott government's Commission of Audit and that recommended a reduction of the minimum wage by 1 per cent a year for a decade in real terms."

But Employment Minister Eric Abetz has repeatedly stressed the government has no plans to make changes to penalty rates, which are set by the Fair Work Commission.

The focus of the issues papers accords with the draft terms of reference for the review, leaked to Fairfax last year, which made clear pay and conditions and penalty rates would be examined.

In September last year, Senator Abetz told Fairfax Media he had neutralised a potential political campaign from Labor and the union movement over a possible return to WorkChoices – an assertion that is contested by organised labour.


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