Friday, October 16, 2015
Australia's largest coal mine free to proceed after Feds give approval. Greenies horrified
The nation's largest coal mine is free to proceed after Environment Minister Greg Hunt MP approved it with "the strictest conditions in Australian history", in a decision declared "a disaster" by environment groups.
Mr Hunt on Thursday said the Carmichael coal mine proposed by Indian mining giant Adani has been given the green light "in accordance with national environment law" after the Federal Court in August set aside the previous approval.
The project, which will produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal for export a year, has faced staunch opposition because its Abbot Point terminals are located close to the Great Barrier Reef.
Opponents have already flagged an intention to launch a legal challenge to the latest approval.
The government decision clears a regulatory hurdle, yet there are still questions over how the $16 billion project will be financed. National Australia Bank has said it will not fund the mine and other banks are being pressured to follow suit.
The court previously said Mr Hunt had not properly considered advice about two threatened species – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.
Mr Hunt on Thursday said his approval for the project, in the Galilee Basin in remote central Queensland, considered additional information provided by Adani and environmental groups.
The approval, which includes a rail line, would be "subject to 36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history".
These include implementing all advice from an independent expert scientific committee and protecting and improving 31,000 hectares of southern black throated finch habitat.
The approval will require $1 million funding for research programs to improve conservation of threatened species over 10 years, and strict groundwater monitoring and action triggers would protect Doongmabulla Springs, Mr Hunt said.
Mr Hunt has the power to suspend or revoke the approval and penalties will apply if conditions are breached.
The Department of Environment will monitor the mine and Adani must provide a groundwater management and monitoring plan.
The Mackay Conservation Group launched its Federal Court challenge in January, alleging greenhouse gas emissions from the mine, vulnerable species and Adani's environmental track record had not been taken into account.
Mr Hunt said the court set aside the mine's earlier approval at the request of the government.
Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Ellen Roberts said the approval "risks threatened species, precious ground water, the global climate and taxpayers' money".
"[Mr] Hunt is sacrificing threatened species ... and precious ground water resources for the sake of a mine that simply does not stack up economically," Ms Roberts said, adding the black throated finch would probably be pushed to extinction.
She said the conditions set by Mr Hunt did not adequately deal with the serious implications of the mine, which "can't be offset".
Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner Shani Tager said the mine would be "a complete disaster for the climate and the Great Barrier Reef".
"This project means more dredging in the Great Barrier Reef, more ships through its waters and more carbon emissions," she said.
Adani welcomed the decision, saying the initial legal hurdle was a "technicality" prompted by a mistake by the Department of the Environment.
In a statement, the company said it was always "confident in the soundness of the broader approvals, that the species involved had been protected by conditions, and that the technical error would be promptly rectified".
"Today's announcement ... makes clear that these concerns have been addressed, reflected in rigorous and painstaking conditions," it said.
The company intended to deliver mine, rail and port projects in Queensland creating 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested into community services, Adani said. The jobs figure has been disputed.
Lobby group GetUp! on Thursday said its members had already helped fund legal action against the mine, and the organisation was "exploring the legal opportunities available to us" in light of the latest decision.
"This coal mine is the dumbest, most dangerous and uneconomic development in Australia," senior campaigner Sam Regester said.
"We are calling on GetUp! members and the community to stand up and fight this mine again. We've beaten it before and we can beat it again."
Muslim identity of Bendigo gang rapists covered up
No, this is not about the Bendigo Bank’s rapacious associates who have a financial interest in the land surrounding the proposed mega mosque. Nor is it about how the Bendigo Bank cancelled the accounts of all those who objected to the rape of their city. Nor is it about the corrupted Bendigo councillors who did not declare an interest.
And it’s not even about the Bendigo Bank’s violation of community sentiments in promoting the crass Islamification of one of Australia’s historic and iconic cities.
No, but do you recall that ghastly gang rape of a young Bendigo mother… a case that had completely disappeared under a media blackout?
Well, a whistleblower has disclosed the filthy tactics employed by Bendigo’s newly empowered Muslims: “I was working for the DPP’s department of human services at the time and was directly involved in this case. I am reluctant to openly disclose this type of information as former colleagues have faced legal action for far less.”
The anonymous whistleblower went on to say, “Actually, they were all African Muslims and there were more than six involved in the savage rape but only six were formally charged. No adults were convicted.
“It was common knowledge at the time that the adult offenders conspired, under legal advice, to blame the younger offenders for the crime as juveniles would receive the more lenient sentences and a media blackout would be imposed on the entire case”, he said.
"As a result, details of the case have never surfaced and the adults involved, Mohammed Elnour, 19, Akoak Manon, 19, and Mohammed Zaoli, 22, walked away scot free after having raped the poor woman 14 times while her two children were present in her home.
“All three juvenile rapists spent some time in remand, yet only two were sentenced and both served no more than 12 months.
“Not one of the gang ever admitted guilt nor did they show any remorse for their actions. It was common knowledge that the offenders received financial assistance for their legal defence from the Muslim community, but only after it was confirmed the victim was a young non-Muslim Australian woman.
“DHS and Vicpol members involved in the case were absolutely disgusted by all aspects of the crime itself and the way it was handled but we all were constantly reminded that we would face legal action if found to have disclosed information to the media.
“One thing I would love to share with all Australians is the time when two of the offenders were visited by their family (a loving moderate Muslim family) for the first time since they had been in remand.
“After the offenders had informed the family that it was, ‘All okay because the victim was just an Aussie girl’, the entire family stood and hugged the offenders in relief, the mother was crying tears of joy as she knew the family would have been shunned by the Muslim community if the victim had been a Muslim girl.
“I hope you see fit to share this information with the Australian people and continue the great work.”
Bendigo’s past will hold a proud place in the hearts of Australians. Its future will hold nothing but contempt.
The world's most cautious banking system in Australia
Remained not only alive but profitable during the 2008 world banking collapse. Dividends to shareholders and loans for housing continued as usual
It is always cheaper to buy an umbrella when the sun is shining.
So it is in Australia, where regulators aren’t waiting for a remarkable property-lending boom to go bust before they force the country’s megabanks to take precautions. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority imposed higher capital requirements and more stringent risk weightings on property assets in July. In response, Australian banks have announced 17 billion Australian dollars ($12 billion) in fresh equity raising.
The latest is No. 2 Westpac Banking, which Wednesday launched a A$3.5 billion equity raising that will bring its capital ratios closer to the new standards. The offer price, A$25.50 a share, is a 13% discount to the pre-deal price, accounting for a dividend paid to existing shareholders.
But as bank equity raisings go, the pricing is propitious, with the offer price at around 2.2 times Westpac’s current tangible book value, more than double what many European banks can hope to get.
Westpac controls a quarter of the residential mortgage market in Australia and is combining the equity raising with an interest-rate increase of 0.20 percentage point for property borrowers with floating-rate loans. Westpac should hope that Australia’s other three major banks follow suit, so that it doesn’t lose market share.
If all four banks succeed in raising rates—which they argue is a natural consequence of the increased capital they are required to hold against home mortgages—that will in turn put pressure on the Reserve Bank of Australia to counteract the de facto tightening by going in the opposite direction and cutting benchmark rates. That would provide a net interest-margin boost to the sector.
Investors signaled their unhappiness about the prospect of a raising, sending Westpac’s shares down nearly 12% since regulators announced the new hurdles. But the share discount is in line with what rival Commonwealth Bank of Australia offered in its A$5 billion offering in August.
Westpac’s additional shares dilute existing shareholders by about 4%, making it only marginally more difficult to achieve the 15%-plus return on equity investors are accustomed to. Goldman Sachs calculates this year’s return on equity post-offering will be a relatively robust 14.9%.
The bigger challenge for Australia’s banks, Westpac included, will be to maintain such returns when property prices finally crack. Instead of slowing along with Australia’s China-driven, commodities-dependent economy, property has been resilient, extending a generational bull run. Prices in July were up nearly 10% from a year before.
A property collapse, predicted for years, has yet to arrive. Some hope it never will. But if it does, Australia’s banks will have been happy to raise capital at today’s prices rather than under duress.
Turnbull squashes envious Leftist attack on his wealth
MALCOLM Turnbull today acknowledged he and wife Lucy had been lucky and were wealthier than most Australians who worked harder than them. But the Prime Minister, the richest member of Parliament, made no apologies for his wealth: “We’ve worked hard, we’ve paid our taxes, we’ve given back.”
Mr Turnbull was responding to Labor attacks on his investments in funds based in the Cayman Islands, a tactic that has highlighted how well-off the Prime Minister has become.
He returned the attack, accusing Labor of taking Parliament down the “the avenue of the politics of envy”.
It was a strong response, which left the Labor benches quieter than they were when Opposition Leader Bill Shorten put the question to Mr Turnbull.
“I don’t believe my wealth, or frankly most people’s wealth, is entirely a function of hard work,” Mr Turnbull said. “Of course hard work is important but, you know, there are taxi drivers that work harder than I ever have and they don’t have much money. “There are cleaners that worker than I ever have or you ever have and they don’t have much money.
“This country is built upon hard work, people having a go and enterprise. “Some of us will be more successful than others, some of us are fortunate in the turn of business, some of us are fortunate in the intellect we inherit from our parents.”
For a second day, the Prime Minister took questions on his and wife Lucy’s investments — all declared in public and none considered illegal — and repeated his argument he had sent his money off shore to avoid a conflict of interest from Australian investments.
He said the investment vehicles had been selected by a New York-based Australian financial adviser Josephine Lyndon, who has managed that portfolio. He said: “Is tax being paid in Australia by Australians? In my case and in Lucy’s case, in the case of our family interests, the answer is absolutely yes, in full.”
And he turned on Labor’s leader Mr Shorten who, he said, “could be talking today about the economy, could be asking about growth, could be proposing some new ideas on innovation or enterprise”.
Instead, he said, Labor wanted “Just another wander down the avenue of the politics of envy, just another smear”.