Tuesday, April 21, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks a lot of West Australians would like to secede and get out from under a bloated Federal bureaucracy.  He is probably right.

Tony Abbott can't win

Bob Hawke skolling beer makes him a great bloke.  Not so for Abbott

Tony Abbott may have thrilled players at an Australian Rules function by skolling a beer but he’s drawn the ire of anti-drinking campaigners who claim he’s glorifying binge drinking and associating being a man with drinking booze.

Julie Robert, a cultural studies professor at the University of Technology Sydney, said it was 'problematic' that the Prime Minister, who she believes should be advocating against binge drinking, thought it acceptable to 'showcase his masculinity' by skolling a beer.

‘It sets up a culture that drinking isn’t about socialising with friends, it’s about how quickly and how much you can drink,’ she said.

On Saturday night Mr Abbott appeared happy to oblige when he was asked to have a drink by University of Technology Sydney Bats coach Simon Carradous.

It took the Prime Minister about six seconds to down the schooner as players cheered and chanted 'skol' and 'Tony'.

Dr Robert warned people can forget their limits when they are wrapped up in the act of demonstrating how much, or how quickly, they can drink.

'It is the whole performance and the display and showing off which is the problematic part,' she told Daily Mail Australia.

However, she said it was not just Mr Abbott's skol that was concerning, it was also the way media and other government officials have reacted to the event.

In an interview on Sunday, opposition leader Bill Shorten quipped that he was 'just pleased that Tony Abbott’s learning to drink beer without adding lemonade to it'.

Mr Abbott was labelled 'un-Australian' for ordering a light beer during his 2010 campaign.

Health Minister Sussan Ley was quick to jump to Mr Abbott's defence saying there was 'nothing wrong' with the Prime Minister's antics.  “If more people got up at 4.30 in the morning and went running and cycling and worked as hard as our Prime Minister to keep fit and demonstrate that there are many ways that you can do this, I think we’d have a healthier country as a result,’’ Ms Ley said.

While Mr Abbott is not the first Australian Prime Minister to show off his skolling skills, with former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke a notable example, Dr Roberts said he should have taken into consideration recent shifts in attitudes over heavy drinking.

'I don’t necessarily think it’s a partisan thing but I do think the climate has changed and we didn’t [used to] have the concern over binge drinking that we do now,' she said.


Lawyers protecting their mates enrages corruption body

Unprecedented verdict weakens anti--corruption powers

ICAC’s investigation into NSW criminal prosecutor Margaret Cunneen was found to be a breach of its legislative powers. Source: News Corp Australia

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has lashed out at the High Court and demanded the NSW government introduce retrospective legislation to restore powers the anti-corruption body claims it has lost as a result of its failed investigation into prosecutor Margaret Cunneen.

Following last week’s decision by the High Court, which found the ICAC’s investigation into NSW criminal prosecutor Margaret Cunneen was a breach of its legislative powers, the ICAC today broke its silence criticising the High Court’s decision arguing it will “substantially damage the Commission’s ability” to carry out anti-corruption investigations.

“The decision in this matter about the scope of section 8(2) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 by the majority of the High Court of Australia adopted a construction of the section that had never previously been argued or accepted since the ICAC’s inception.

“The narrow construction given to section 8(2) by the Court will substantially damage the Commission’s ability to carry out its corruption investigation and corruption prevention functions,” the ICAC said in a statement.

In a 4-1 decision, the High Court ruled last week that ICAC had no power to investigate alleg­ations that Ms Cunneen and her son Stephen Wyllie advised his girlfriend, Sophia Tilley, to “pretend to have chest pains” at the scene of an accident with the ­intention of perverting the course of justice.

The decision is a major blow to ICAC, significantly narrowing the corruption previously thought to be in its remit.

In a stinging rebuke, the ICAC also said the High Court decision will “severely restrict” its findings into two investigations into NSW Liberal fundraising and the role of Australian Water Holdings, which led to the resignation of former federal assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos.

“The decision means that the Commission will be unable to investigate or report on several current operations, and will severely restrict its ability to report on Operations Spicer and Credo.

The anti-corruption body also claimed the High Court’s decision in Cunneen will lead to an avalanche of litigation by those found to have been corrupt by the ICAC and those facing criminal charges as a result of its investigations.

“It has the potential to involve the State of NSW and the Commission in costly and protracted litigation involving persons who have been the subject of corrupt conduct findings based on investigations conducted under section 8(2), and will affect current litigation involving such findings.”

“It also has the potential to call into question the prosecutions and convictions of persons where evidence against them was obtained during Commission investigations based on section 8(2).”

ICAC demanded the NSW Parliament introduce retrospective legislation to restore the powers it claims to have lost, arguing no previous legislation interpretation of the ICAC Act was consistent with the High Court’s findings.

“In the circumstances, the Commission has made a submission to the NSW Government to consider, as a matter of priority, amending section 8(2) to ensure that the section can operate in accordance with its intended scope and making any such amendment retrospective.”

Last week David Levine, the inspector of the NSW ICAC criticised the ICAC for not making a comment on the matter earlier, despite comments from former ICAC Commissioner David Ipp and leaks to media outlets. The former Supreme Court judge also said there had been a “simplistic view” by some that parliament could now “cure the state of affairs that ICAC is now perceived to be in by some amendments to the legislation”.

In a statement last week Mr Levine said he had told the Commissioner he could see no reason why the ICAC could not now issue a public statement regarding the High Court ruling.

“I am of the view that the present standing of the ICAC in the eyes of the public whose interests it exists to champion on issues of corruption and integrity is to say the least, unhappy,” he said.

“I express this view as the Inspector and I express it of the ICAC as a Statutory entity.

“It is my view that ICAC is duty bound to inform the public to indicate what it is doing and what it proposes to do and to give some explanation for the course it has taken not only in relation to Operation Hale but any other outstanding matters.


Unions have their hands out in Queensland

The unions beat Vince Gair so Mrs P will have to be careful

UNION bosses are warning Annastacia Palaszczuk to honour commitments Labor made to them, issuing blatant reminders of how they helped the party secure an unlikely win on January 31.

One high-profile figure boasts about how his union “supported” seven successful Labor candidates and the fact that two of them now sit in Cabinet with the Premier.

Gary Bullock, who heads left-wing union United Voice, even went so far as to refer to the members and ministers as “United Voice MPs”.

It comes as a recent AMWU publication links promises to grow manufacturing jobs with the pouring of resources by the union into local campaigns for “card-carrying” candidates.

“The new Queensland Government contains card-carrying AMWU members, including Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure Jackie Trad in South Brisbane, Shannon Fentiman in Waterford, Brittany Lauga in Keppel and Peter Russo in Sunnybank,” the publication states.

“(AMWU state secretary Rohan) Webb said these Labor MPs had pledged to prioritise growing new manufacturing industries as our union poured resources and grassroots support into their electorate campaigns.”

Ms Palaszczuk this morning said, while launching the Premier’s Reading Challenge at Coorparoo State School, that she did not feel as though her government was indebted to the union movement.

When asked directly whether she believed her Government owed the unions anything for the role they played in her election win, she said: “No, I believe that we should be working as one - the business community, the labour movement, and my government should be working as one to generate jobs in this state.”

The Premier said Mr Bullock’s comments did not concern her.

“I’m not worried (about) what Gary Bullock is saying to his membership, he’s standing up for the rights of his membership right across this state,” she said.

When asked whether Mr Bullock was “overstating” his influence, Ms Palaszczuk said: “I think people can draw their own assumptions and perhaps some people put more emphasis on those issues, but what I will say is that my members will always stand up for members.”

Ms Palaszczuk said it was no surprise that Labor had strong links to the union movement, saying she was unapologetic about wanting to create safe working environments.

“I’ve seen reports in The Courier-Mail today and everybody, it’s no secret that the Labor Party was born out of the labour movement,” she said.

“And I make no excuse for standing up for workers’ rights in this state. I make no excuse for ensuring that workers conditions at work are safe and secure and I make no excuse for having as my top priority creating jobs for workers in this state.

“So, I’m proud to hang my hat on a Government that is focused on job creation, safety at work and making sure that workers’ rights are protected.”

Ms Palaszczuk was also asked about the role union leaders played in her Government.

“I consult with a wide range of stakeholders,” she said. “So when I was first elected, I met with the business community and I met with members of the labour movement. What I want to see in this state is where the labour movement and the business community work as one. I said I would lead a government of consensus and that is exactly what I intend to do.”

Mr Bullock goes on to say that United Voice members “won some fantastic commitments from Labor”, adding that they now “want to see the new Palaszczuk Government restore their faith, just stick to their word”.

“United Voice supported seven successful candidates in the election and two of them are now ministers in Cabinet,” he says.

“These United Voice MPs know Labor’s commitments, they made the same commitments themselves and now they’ll help to make sure those promises become reality.”


W. Australian potato tyranny to end

WA’s archaic “spud cop” faces the chop, with Colin Barnett declaring the Potato Marketing Corporation will be abolished within two years.

The Premier told The West Australian it was time to peel back rules that dictated the varieties, quantities and price of potatoes grown in the State.  “The Potato Corp’s days are up,” Mr Barnett said. “It will go. It should have gone years ago.”

The corporation’s future has been under the microscope in recent weeks after a Federal review on competition policy singled it out as a $3.8 million-a-year drag on the WA economy.

As well as requiring growers to be licensed and restricting potato crops, the PMC has draconian powers, including the ability to search vehicles suspected of carrying more than 50kg of potatoes and impound contraband spuds.

As part of a potential bailout deal to help WA as it has its GST share slashed, Canberra has told Mr Barnett he should cut “anomalous” business practices.

The abolition of the PMC will be part of a suite of reforms demanded by the Abbott Government in negotiations for about $500 million of infrastructure spending brought forward by the Commonwealth.

Mr Barnett said the PMC’s predecessor was set up in the 1940s to ensure a stable supply of potatoes to feed war-torn Europe but the Government was now looking to wind it up.  “It won’t be there after the next election (due in 2017),” he said.  “We may even bring in legislation prior to the election to nominate the day on which it closes.”

The Premier expressed frustration the PMC was often held up as an example of how WA had not reformed its economy, contrasting it to surveys that found the State was ranked best in the world for mining.

The corporation’s chief Peter Evans declined to comment but president of the pro-PMC Potato Growers Association of WA Dean Ryan was surprised by Mr Barnett’s decision.  “There is a firm commitment from the Premier and Agriculture Minister there will be no changes to the current system until at least 2017,” he said. “This issue needs to be about the survival of small growers and farmers in WA.”

Mr Ryan said there was a debate over potato marketing showed the need for a broader community discussion about whether WA consumers wanted to be self-sufficient with fresh locally grown food or rely on imported produce from the Eastern States and overseas produce.

“If we’re happy to see no cost reduction at all in the price of potatoes as a result of deregulation, while watching even more country communities and farming families – who grow safe and fresh local produce - being pushed out, then that’s the way it is heading,” he said.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said Labor’s policy since 2012 had been to scrap the PMC, which Mr Barnett had previously opposed. “He’s copying us, again, on a sensible policy,” he said.


Brisbane radio to become more conservative

Less than two weeks before his radio program airs on 4BC, presenter Ray Hadley has described the Brisbane radio station as "a poor imitation of the ABC".

Hadley's mornings program on Sydney's 2GB will be syndicated on 4BC from April 27, along with a breakfast show hosted by Alan Jones.

Hadley will replace Patrick Condren in the morning slot.

Radio host Ray Hadley has criticised Brisbane radio station 4BC less than two weeks before his show becomes one of its headline programs.
Radio host Ray Hadley has criticised Brisbane radio station 4BC less than two weeks before his show becomes one of its headline programs. Photo: Peter Rae
On Wednesday he said the challenge of building an audience from a 4.3 per cent market share was "massive".

"At my age and 32 years into the business, I'm always looking for challenges and I think this is probably my biggest one," he told Fairfax Media.

"The station is running last. It's embarrassing.

"I've been listening to it for a number of months now to see what it's like and it's just a poor imitation of the ABC. It's a left-wing station that doesn't appear to have much to say about major issues."

News that most of 4BC's Brisbane presenters would be sacked was met with disappointment by several media commentators, and the station's plight is now being mocked on Twitter by a parody account.

However Hadley said he wasn't worried 4BC listeners would switch off because of a reduction in Brisbane content and presenters.

"They had a minuscule audience," he said.

"It's not as if they had 300,000 people listening. There's hardly anyone listening to the station. Something has to change."

"It appears to me not even the entire families of the broadcasters are listening."

Hadley said his mornings program would be relevant in Brisbane because the topics it covered were either national or of broad interest.

"In terms of Brisbane guests, it's not a magazine program...It's a program about news and about opinions - mainly my opinions because it's my program."

A merger between the Macquarie and Fairfax radio networks was officially completed on March 31, with Fairfax holding a 54.5 per cent stake of the super-sized Macquarie Radio Network. Most of the job cuts across the network have come from the Fairfax side of the business.

Hadley has in the past criticised Fairfax Media, whose brands include Brisbane Times, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Rival Sydney station 2UE and Brisbane's 4BC were also Fairfax-owned until the merger.

When asked on Wednesday what he thought of Fairfax, Hadley said: "I have no comment to make".

"It's immaterial to me who's a shareholder and who's not a shareholder. John Singleton still owns about 35 per cent and that's who I started working for 14 years ago. I don't work for Fairfax, I work for Macquarie Radio," he said.


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