Sunday, April 05, 2015

"Reclaim Australia" and "No Room for Racism" rallies clash across Australia

POLICE officers are trying to disperse anti-Islamic extremism and anti-racism protesters holding competing rallies at several locations across the country including Melbourne’s Federation Square and Sydney’s Martin Place.

Melbourne has become a battleground of competing ideologies, with a rally by the Reclaim Australia movement and counter-protest by the left-wing No Room for Racism group.

Tempers flared as a Reclaim Australia supporter scuffled with a Guy Fawkes mask-wearing socialist protester.

More than 100 officers put up a line of bodies to separate the two groups.

Eleven horses from the mounted division were also used to hold the crowds apart in Flinders St, as scuffles broke out across the square.

Reclaim Australia members claimed to be protesting against the rise of Islamic extremism and sharia law in Australia.

Several protesters tried to break the police line, and at least two man were heavily restrained by the police. One policeman confiscated a long piece of wood from someone at the rally.

Police formed a corridor to corral Reclaim Australia supporters through the angry crowds as the really drew to an end.


Qld.: Speaker Peter Wellington has painted himself as the victim in Billy Gordon controversy and stifled debate in Parliament

THERE was a point during the Billy Gordon controversy this week when Peter Wellington lost it.  It came when he painted himself the victim. He did it not once but twice.  Along the way the 58-year-old Speaker also anointed himself Queensland’s new Chief Censor.

First I should point out that Wellington is an alleged independent Speaker in an assembly where he has sat for 17 years without achieving very much at all.

I don’t think I was the only one who detected a tone of arrogance when he came out swinging, accusing a domestic violence victim of being a troublemaker and ruining his day. Wellington took the moral high ground and that can be a very lonely place in politics. He was simply “too busy” to respond to 11 pages of very serious accusations.

Hello, Mr Speaker, we are all busy. The real victim here is not you, Peter, but the poor woman.

In detailed statements the woman claims to have suffered 15 years of atrocious domestic violence at the hands of Gordon, the Labor member for Cape York. The electorate is officially known as Cook and extends from the northern beaches of Cairns to Port Douglas, Mossman, Cooktown Mareeba and Chillagoe. It covers Aboriginal and pastoral communities and all the Torres Strait Islands.

A quarter of the voters are indigenous. Gordon became one of a rare handful of indigenous candidates to win a seat in Parliament.

Gordon has purportedly said he “acted like an animal” and admitted a criminal history including driving offences, break and entering offences, breach of bail and probation, and an apprehended violence order taken out by his own mother.

Gordon’s former de facto partner has accused him of domestic violence, routinely not filing tax returns, and avoiding child-support payments to his five children.

The woman’s account should have raised immediate alarm bells – inside and outside Parliament. However, Wellington seemed more upset by the timing of the woman’s letter than the serious allegations therein.

So he attacked the media for doing its job and reporting Gordon’s unsuitability for public office.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made it worse by blaming the LNP when it was ALP incompetence which created the crisis in the first place.

Wellington and Palaszczuk were quite happy to count Gordon’s vote in the confidence motion confirming her Government.

Labor’s feminist lobby, too, went missing, betraying the Sisterhood by not rebuking Wellington.

Only Liz Cunningham, the former independent MP and crusader against domestic violence was game enough to criticise Wellington and Palaszczuk. It was “regrettable”, she said, that the victim had to wait so long for a response.

I suspect one of the reasons she had to wait so long is that Wellington stifled debate in Parliament.

It happened in the very first Questions without Notice arm-wrestle in the new Parliament when Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg quite properly sought answers from the Premier about Gordon.

The Borg asked: “During the course of the election campaign the Premier dismissed the Labor candidate for Lytton (Daniel Cheverton) because the candidate did not meet her high standards. Does the member for Cook meet those same high standards?”

Wellington responded: “I will not allow that question. That question is out of order. Do you have a further question you would like to put in lieu of that question?”

Springborg: “Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would appreciate it if you could provide an explanation for your ruling.”

Wellington: “My view is that that matter has already been canvassed.”

Wellington babbled on about standing orders and how he had taken advice from the Clerk and suggested if Springborg had a problem he should write to him (Wellington) about it.

The Speaker had effectively stymied legitimate Opposition scrutiny.

At the same time the “independent” Speaker shielded Palaszczuk from political embarrassment.

It did not end there. John-Paul Langbroek, Springborg’s deputy, took up the challenge.  He said: “I rise to a point of order. I recall Speaker McGrady ruling that the Premier of the state at the time is responsible for all processes and therefore could answer any question put to him.”

Wellington: “With respect, I am the Speaker at the moment. That might be your opinion, but the question does not relate to the affairs of the state or the Premier’s portfolio.”

There was a little more argy-bargy before Wellington said: “I have made my ruling. If you disagree I am happy for you to write to me and I will consider it. Move on. Next question.”

Such arrogance.  Excusing a premier from answering questions in the people’s House is a threat to democracy. If Wellington has good grounds to prohibit scrutiny, he must reveal what they are.

He made much of his desire for a return of “integrity and accountability” to Queensland during the election campaign.

To win his support he even made Palaszczuk sign a superciliousness accord that covered everything from the rights of Queenslanders to car parking and dredge spoil disposal.

And there were sweeteners for his own electorate of Nicklin.

Wellington set the bar very, very high for everyone. So high that in this case he may have trouble jumping over it himself.


Victoria's new Leftist Premier blocks private hospital construction

The usual Leftist class war

The Victorian government's decision to axe plans for a private hospital inside the new $1.1 billion Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre has put "many millions of dollars" in funding for Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in jeopardy, its executives say.

Fairfax Media also understands that several board members are so angry with Premier Daniel Andrews' decision to scrap the 42-bed private wing of the centre , they are now considering resigning from their positions.

On Thursday night, Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the government had ordered Peter Mac not to proceed with its plan to create a "Peter Mac Private" on the 13th floor of the new Parkville cancer centre because it was inconsistent with the "heart and soul" of the project, which would serve "all" Victorians when it opens next year. 

The former Coalition government had previously supported the plan, which was being sold as an opportunity for Peter Mac to attract more insured patients, medical tourists and the best clinicians and scientists who could easily work in both the public and private system. The profits would be used to cross-subsidise its public services.   

On Friday, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre board chairwoman Wendy Harris, QC, said the decision to kill the plan meant the public hospital would lose "many millions of dollars" it was due to reap from the project.

This included $20 million in philanthropic funding that was contingent on the private hospital being built, about $700,000 a year in rental revenue and about $12 million from the sale of services such as pharmacy, radiology and other imaging to the private operator over 25 years.

Ms Harris said cancelling the plan also meant that level 13 may now remain a shell space in the centre when it would have otherwise been fitted out for about $24 million. At the end of a 25-year agreement with a private hospital operator, she said the 42-bed hospital would have been returned to the state.

"It's fair to say I'm extremely disappointed," she said.

While Labor politicians last year questioned whether the private wing would undermine care for public patients, Ms Harris said one-third of patients treated at Peter Mac were already private patients (insured or privately paying), so moving some of them into 'Peter Mac Private' would have created more beds for public patients, not less.

But Premier Daniel Andrews told 3AW on Friday that no money would be lost from the project and that Ms Harris was "simply wrong".  He said the hospital would not lose money and that it would still attract the best doctors and scientists.

"I didn't just make this decision lightly. It's not about ideology at all, it's about outcomes and I spoke to a number of very senior people in oncology field… and they are very supportive of every square inch of that building being for the public provision of services, [and] also teaching, training and research," he said.


Iron ore plunge stokes pressure for Australia rate cut

Pressure is mounting for a cut in Australian interest rates as soon as next week as plunging prices for iron ore, the country's single most valuable export earner, punish both mining profits and government tax revenue.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) holds its monthly policy meeting on April 7 and markets are wagering heavily it will follow up a February easing with another quarter point cut to an all-time low of 2.0 percent.

In part any move would be aimed at lowering the Australian dollar, which would assist commodity producers exporting U.S. dollar-priced products.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans noted iron ore prices had fallen around 15 percent since the RBA's March policy meeting, while the local currency was only down a single U.S. cent.

"That is why it will be important for the bank to maintain an easing bias when it announces the cut next week," said Evans. "It will maintain downward pressure on the AUD."

Interbank futures <0> imply a better than 60 percent probability of an April easing, and are fully priced for one by May. Indeed, investors are already wagering rates will fall to 1.75 percent before the year is out.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens says Australia is struggling with the end of its mining boom, noting that past mining booms had almost all ended very badly for Australia, usually through runaway inflation followed by a major crash. But Stevens says the RBA will continue to support the economy.


Spot Iron ore .IO62-CNI=SI stood at $49 a tonne after plunging 3.9 percent on Wednesday - the weakest since the index was introduced in 2008 and could drop as low as $47, forecasts Westpac Bank.

The decline had a deadening impact on mining shares with Fortescue Metals Group off 3 percent, while Atlas Iron fell 3.8 percent and BC Iron 4 percent.

With little prospect of rising iron ore prices, as global supply continues to expand in the face of waning demand growth, miners are counting on lower oil prices, cheaper freight rates and a weaker Australian currency to turn a profit.

Iron ore is Australia's single biggest export earner so the collapse in prices has been as big a blow to government tax revenues as to mining profits.

A half-decade after insulating Australia from the worst of the global financial crisis, the giant mining state of Western Australia is being forced to defer iron ore royalties which underpin tens of thousands of jobs.

Stephen Walters, chief economist at JPMorgan, cites estimates from Australia's Treasury that every $10 per tonne drop in the iron ore price cuts up to A$3 billion off the national budget.

"Iron ore prices have fallen 70 percent, putting the ultimate drag on revenue up to A$30 billion," said Walters.

That has only intensified pressure on Treasurer Joe Hockey to come up with savings or tax raising measures in his annual budget due in May, while also ensuring that the drag does not harm an already sluggish economy.

"With fiscal policy being tightened, the onus will be on monetary policy to provide the support the economy needs."


1 comment:

Paul said...

You gotta admit, the Billy Gordon thing has a huge ring of "what did you expect" about it.