Sunday, June 07, 2015

Convicted paedophile wins right to stay in Australia after judge substituted his own opinion for the judgment of the immigration minister

An unelected judge overruling an elected official?

A convicted paedophile has won the right to remain in Australia after the Federal Court ruled former immigration minister Scott Morrison erred when ordering his deportation.

The 60-year-old, who cannot be named, was convicted in Queensland in 2009 of three counts of indecently treating his granddaughter.

He was sentenced to two years' jail, suspended after six months.

The man was born in England and came to Australia when he was six years old.

He never applied for citizenship but his visa allowed him to remain here indefinitely.  However, in October 2014, Mr Morrison cancelled his visa.

Because the man was not an Australian citizen, the nature of his offences allowed Mr Morrison to make him a non-citizen because he failed the "character test".

The man was arrested at his Queensland home in November 2014 and taken to the Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney.

He challenged the detention in the Federal Court arguing that he was denied natural justice.

The court ruled in his favour on Friday.

Justice John Logan quashed the decision to cancel his Australian visa and ordered his immediate release from Villawood. Further more the Government was ordered to pay costs.

Justice Logan noted Mr Morrison's actions were "not bizarre" but out of proportion.  He said it was a "jurisdictional error".  "The minister has, with respect, taken a sledgehammer to crack a nut," Justice Logan wrote in his judgment.

"His exercise of the discretion conferred on him was ... in excess of what was, in my view, necessary."


Australia singled out as a climate change 'free-rider' by international panel

Well-done, Australia!  To be criticized by an old fraud like Kofi Annan is a badge of merit

Australia has become a climate change "free-rider", dropping off the list of nations taking "credible" action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to a panel led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

In the Africa Progress Panel's 2015 report, Australia is named along with Canada, Japan and Russia as appearing "to have withdrawn from the community of nations seeking to tackle dangerous climate change".

Australia, with one of the world's highest per capita emissions, "has gone from leadership to free-rider status in climate diplomacy", it said.

The country was on course for emissions to rise 12-18 per cent above 2000 levels after scrapping the carbon price in 2014, compared with the promise of a 5 per cent reduction by decade's end.

A separate report on Thursday by energy consultants Pitt & Sherry said Australia's emissions had jumped 1.6 per cent in the first nine months after the scrapping of the carbon price in June 2014, led by a rebound in brown coal-fired electricity production. Emissions from coal, petroleum and natural gas use are all rising for the first time since November 2011.

Australia, the US and the European Union should be aiming for deep carbon cuts by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050, while China – the largest emitter – should bring forward its planned peak, the African report said.

While the report's main focus was on the energy needs of a continent home to 600 million people without access to electricity, it noted Africa has a keen interest in reducing global warming risks given its exposure to extreme weather and widespread poverty.

"No region has done less to contribute to the climate crisis, but no region will pay a higher price for failure to tackle it," Mr Annan said in the report.


Alan Bond: From national hero to corporate crook

When Alan Bond siphoned $30 million of the banks' money into winning the America's cup, many Australians saw that as a defensible transaction

Alan Bond, who has died aged 77, is best known for being the first non-American to win the coveted America's Cup sailing trophy, and as the biggest fraudster in Australian history.

But he kept hold of his vast ill-gotten fortune, through a secretive web of shelf companies and trusts scattered through tax havens from Switzerland to Rarotonga, all controlled by the mysterious Swiss banker Jurg Bollag.

Bond was a salesman beyond almost anything the world has ever witnessed.

Barren sand hills became prized assets to Japanese corporate giants, a blueprint for a petrochemical plan, and a block of scrubby land in the WA wilderness was an asset the state government just had to have.

But like many salesmen, he was a sucker for a deal. Whether it was Hong Kong's biggest office tower, a Gold Coast university, an historic English village or a national television network, Alan Bond was in the market.

At one stage he was duking it out with John Elliott for the title of Australia's beer baron.

Bond owned Castlemaine Tooheys, after getting his first taste for brewing through the purchase of WA's Swan Brewery while Elliott ran Carlton and United.

How did he do it? From a start as a sign writer?

The 80s heralded a new era in finance and banking. Deregulation and an invasion of foreign banks flooded the system with cash.

Money was not just easy. Bankers were banging down doors around the country, begging businessmen to take more.

Bond was happy to oblige. In an era with little transparency and minimal disclosure, he and his lieutenants paid themselves massive personal success fees every time they notched up a deal.

That was the secret to the private success. Good deal or bad, Bond raked off a massive fee from his own shareholders.

At the time, no-one cared. The bankers were delivered bonuses for extending the cash. Shareholders watched stock prices soar.

However you look at it, the 1983 America's Cup win was a masterstroke and probably the best publicity investment he ever made. It is still paying dividends.

Bond was the man who could do anything. He could harness Aussie ingenuity to beat the Yanks at their own game. He broke the longest winning streak in sport. He was a national hero.

That laid the groundwork for five years of hedonistic self-indulgence, tax avoidance on a grand scale and outright fraud.

Final conviction put him in a class of his own

It all came to an abrupt end on October 19, 1987. The merry-go-round stopped for most on the Black Monday crash. But not for Bond.

He bought the remnants of Robert Holmes à Court's damaged empire and plundered the coffers of almost every cent it had; $1.2 billion was siphoned off to plug holes in Bond Corp.

His private company Dallhold - which owned a little over half of Bond Corp - received generous payments from the public company along with art works by the likes of Manet.

Dallhold eventually collapsed owing more than half a billion dollars and Bond finally declared himself bankrupt in 1992 with personal debts of $600 million. He was convicted three times on criminal charges, one of which was overturned.

His final conviction in 1997 - for the theft of $1.2 billion from Bell Resources - put him in a class of his own when it comes to crime.

But there was never a hint of remorse or even an acknowledgement of wrong-doing. His family, meanwhile, ended up in control of a vast global property portfolio.

Eight years after his release, in 2008, he miraculously was back in the rich lists, worth an estimated $265 million with a string of mines across Africa, from Liberia to Mozambique.

A quarter of a century later, the aftershocks of his crimes continue to be the subject of judicial oversight.

Just last month, WA Treasurer Mike Nahan was considering legislation to ensure that a $1.7 billion insurance settlement - a case running through the courts for 20 years - finally would make its way to Bell Group creditors.

Still, that all pales into insignificance any time there is a mention of Ben Lexcen's winged keel and John Bertrand's brilliant tactics - which even had Bob Hawke fall off the wagon as he declared an unofficial public holiday.

C'mon Aussie C'mon. Come on.


Labor backs down on $3bn tax cut, which puts Budget surplus back on track

LABOR has agreed to support the government in abolishing a $3 billion tax cut.

The cut, essentially an increase in the tax-free threshold, was due to take effect from July 1 and had been part of Labor’s compensation package for the carbon tax.

Labor now says the cut is unaffordable and will cause a blowout in the forecast deficit.

Opposition frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite says Labor is taking a fiscally responsible approach by backing down.

“The budget’s in a dire position, the budget deficit in the government’s own budget papers increases from $17.1 billion to $35 billion over the forward estimates, even with this $3 billion saving being banked,” he told Sky News.

“This is a saving that we believe is in the interests of Australia and that’s why we’ve agreed to it.”

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has defended Labor’s backdown on a $3 billion tax cut saying it is no longer appropriate given the state of the federal budget.

Labor has agreed to support the government in abolishing the cut which it now says is unaffordable.

The cut would have boosted the tax free threshold from $18,200 to $19,400 from July 1. It was the last remnant of Labor’s carbon compensation package.

“This wasn’t an easy decision for the Labor Party,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“But given this is the government’s position not to have these tax cuts, and given the state of the budget deficit, the responsible thing for Labor to do is to give its support.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Labor’s backdown has helped put the budget surplus back on track.

By abolishing the tax-free threshold hike linked to Labor’s former carbon pricing levy, 10 million tax payers affected from July 1 will lose less than $2 a week, Mr Cormann said.

“The budget position is now improving, we are now on a believable pathway back to surplus,” he told reporters in Perth.

Mr Cormann said Labor had finally come to their senses.

“We call on (Opposition Leader) Bill Shorten and (opposition treasury spokesman) Chris Bowen not to stop here. Keep looking at the measures we’ve put forward to repair the budget mess you left behind.”


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