Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Farhad Jabar: Police believe gunman was no ‘lone wolf’ but part of an extremist pack

POLICE Commissioner Andrew Scipione has vowed that “everything that needs to be done will be done,” to find how a 15-year-old schoolboy came to execute a much loved police accountant as he left work.

“There is no way you can describe the hurt inside that building and right across the NSW Police force at the moment,” he said outside Charles St headquarters this afternoon.

Mr Scipione was joined by Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant where they laid wreaths for slain Curtis Cheng.

They then went inside to meet the special constables that shot dead Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar in a brief gunbattle.

Mr Baird said they were there to acknowledge “the bravery of some very special men”.  “We strongly believe they saved many lives,” he said.

Mr Baird said they were also there to show their support for the “police family”.  “We are here to try to help them know that everyone across this state is with them and they are not hurting alone.”

Mr Baird, Mr Scipione and Mr Grant also met Mr Cheng’s senior colleagues.

The floral tribute continues to grow outside the headquarters with people of different faiths praying and reflecting. Some make the sign of the cross, others pray and bow.  Earlier in the day a Buddhist monk stood and reflected.

Earlier this morning police arrested a student on his way to Arthur Phillip High School, the same school attended by the 15-year-old who shot a man dead at Parramatta’s police headquarters last week.

The arrested student had his belongings emptied on the footpath before being handcuffed and taken away in a police van.

Police said they spoke with the boy on his way to school this morning in relation to alleged posts on social media. He was arrested after allegedly threatening and intimidating officers and taken to Parramatta police station.

In a Facebook post on Friday, a little more than an hour after Farhad Jabar shot dead police worker Curtis Cheng outside the force’s Parramatta headquarters, he wrote: “Serves you right I hope them lil piggies get shot”

He later posted a video of Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione’s press conference from the night of the shooting.  “Bahahja f*ck you motherf***er Yallah merryland police station is next hope they all burn in hell,” he wrote alongside it.

The boy describes himself as “A.W. A” or “Arab with attitude” and allegedly has a long history of uploading content taunting and mocking NSW Police.

He shared a photo of himself in front of two officers from the state’s mounted unit and wrote: “F*ck the police not a single f*ck was given that day FTP FTS”.

In a chilling post the day after Friday’s callous terror attack, one his friends wrote: “I knew it was going to happen, just didnt (sic) know when”.

According to the 17-year-old’s Facebook account, he travelled to Iran earlier this year.

In May he checked in to the resort-filled Kish Island and wrote: “Omg this place is heaven”

The Arthur Phillip High School student is also a member of the group Social Muslims Unite.

His arrest comes after The Daily Telegraph revealed police are working on the ­theory that teen terrorist Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar was acting on the orders of other radicals and was not a “lone wolf’’ killer.

NSW counterterrorism ­officers are investigating who may have supplied the gun he used to carry out the murder of a civilian staffer at Parramatta police headquarters on Friday afternoon.

Counter terrorism police today revealed Jabar had been communicating online with a British Jihadist with known links to IS, the Australian reported.

“The possibility the teenager was used by extremists is a strong line of inquiry,’’ a senior officer involved in the operation told The Daily Telegraph.

“That includes searching his computers, electronic devices and who he was in contact with on the days leading up to the shooting and on the day itself.’’

The development comes amid reports in The Australian today that investigators have linked Jabar to a known British radical associated with terror group Islamic State, and that the pair had been communicating via the internet.

They have also established the schoolboy was at his home last Friday morning before he went to Parramatta mosque in the afternoon, where he ­listened to sermons by two imams.

“What was said in those sermons and who he may have met at the mosque are all now being investigated,” the senior officer said.

“There are hours of video and ­recordings to go through.’’

Jabar’s school friends and ­religious associates will all be ­interviewed in the next few days.


Competition under attack

Luddites at work. Ned Ludd and friends lost their battle and these guys will too

As tensions between Uber and the taxi industry continue to grow, a Brisbane cab company executive has taken to a public Facebook group to boast about hitting an Uber driver, and encourage others to "get more militant" with their rivals. 

In a post to Taxi Driver Page, the manager of a Brisbane cab company responded to a post by a colleague who claimed he had been assaulted by an Uber driver while attempting to take his picture. The man wrote:

"F-cking slap him like I did to the prick in Warner St the other night, I am f-cking over them. You wait I will f-cking get them. They won't and can't defend themselves they are illegal. If it was 30 years ago in my time, they wouldn't last five minutes. We need to get more militant about this issue. The (sic) are the f-cking scabs stealing what we have all worked for."

In the early hours of Monday morning this week, a number of Brisbane Uber drivers were allegedly attacked by a group of men, with three separate incidents, in Fortitude Valley and Kangaroo Point.

One of the Uber drivers was treated or cuts and bruises, and in an interview with Fairfax, said he "strongly" suspected that off-duty cab drivers were behind the assault, based on anti-Uber comments they made.

When contacted by Fairfax media about the post on Taxi Driver Page, the man in question, who claimed to have slapped an Uber driver, hastily backtracked, insisting that he was actually just kidding around.

"I've never slapped an Uber driver in my life, we were mucking around," he said. "It's not true, I don't break the law. I spoke to an Uber driver but I don't want to elaborate, they are illegal."

Cabcharge, the largest taxi operator in Australia, recently admitted that its share price has halved since Uber entered the Australian market, with CEO Andrew Skelton saying "we need to leapfrog Uber and get out in front."


Trade deal a win for Australia: Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull says a new Pacific trade deal is a very big win for Australia, insisting the country stood up for itself during intense negotiations.

The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was finalised overnight after five years of talks, which included late-night phone calls between the prime minister and US President Barack Obama.

'These deals are win-win,' Mr Turnbull told Neil Mitchell on Melbourne 3AW radio on Tuesday.

There will be no change to the five-year data protection for biologic medicines, a major sticking point that had delayed negotiations in Atlanta.

'We certainly stood up for our position,' Mr Turnbull said, insisting the deal will not make drugs more expensive in Australia.

The partnership was of 'enormous benefit' to Australia and a 'gigantic foundation stone' for the country's future prosperity.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb says the agreement contains 'pages and pages of benefits' and will make Australia more competitive, create jobs and boost living standards.

As well as boosting trade with the US, it will open up new markets to Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile and Canada and usher in a new era of economic growth and opportunity across the fast-growing Asia-Pacific.

Service providers, miners and manufacturers will see tariffs slashed and new markets opened up.

Farmers will get a major boost with tariffs reduced or cut for beef, dairy, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture and seafood in a number of markets.

Beef producers will see tariffs cut by another nine per cent and for the first time in decades rice growers can send more product to Japan.

Canegrowers will see market access for sugar to the US double.

However Mr Robb concedes the extra 65,000 tonne base quota increase for sugar was not as much as he expected.

'We were disappointed, I couldn't get as much as I wanted,' he told ABC TV on Tuesday, but adding there was potential for further growth.

Lobby group Canegrowers described the outcome as bittersweet, thankful for a compromise uplift of $16 million.

'That's not to be sneezed at, but I would be less than truthful in saying we are overall disappointed in the outcome,' chairman Paul Schembri said.

Innovative drug makers were disappointed, saying Australia's five-year data exclusivity provision lagged behind global competitors and would stifle innovation.

Medicines Australia said Australia would miss out on jobs and tax streams from missed medical breakthroughs.

Labor says it will examine the details closely, especially investor-state dispute resolution provisions which could open up Australia to litigation on decisions such as plain cigarette packaging.

'We look forward to seeing how robust those protections are,' opposition trade spokeswoman Penny Wong told ABC radio.

The Australian Greens are sceptical about the deal's benefits, pointing to US research showing there would be a zero-net benefit to the Australian economy.

'That's why the minister has been under significant pressure not to trade away our rights,' trade spokesman Peter Whish-Wilson said.

Each country will now take the agreement back home, with the deal to be scrutinised by a joint houses committee of the Australian parliament.


Progressives on the case of ‘retirement rorters’

Readers of The Age were greeted with an improbable splash on Friday. Malcolm Turnbull, they were told, was declaring war on the wealthy.

The new Prime Minister had “reached in-principle agreement with unions, employers and welfare organisations to reduce a raft of tax breaks, including negative gearing and superannuation concessions, that primarily beneļ¬t the rich”.

It was an example of what comedian Steven Colbert calls “truthiness”, a story lacking factual support that the writer thinks ought to be true.

In April, a story under the same byline claimed “the prospect of a breakthrough on the contentious tax treatment of superannuation earnings has moved a step closer”. His evidence? Labor’s Chris Bowen had “offered support for a crackdown on the super incomes of the super rich”.

Oddly, Tony Abbott didn’t come to the party on that one. The writer lives in hope that Malcolm Turnbull will.

The notion that Liberal Party parliamentarians entirely lost their senses last month and elected a Fabian socialist as their leader is gaining ground in some sections of the press gallery.

The premise behind The Age’s story was absurd. If Turnbull really wants to soak the rich, why would he have to ask the unions for permission?

The National Reform Summit delegates who briefed the Prime Minister last week agreed that the retirement income system was not what we were promised.

Workers have been forced to save a chunk of their wages for more than 20 years, yet seven out of 10 will rely on welfare, in part or in full, to see them through retirement. We could squeeze the rich until the pips squeak but it would do nothing to help the poor. Raising taxes for high earners will not help a single retiree cross the threshold from handouts to self-sufficiency. Superannuation taxation is, at best, of peripheral concern.

Yet superannuation, like disability insurance and education funding, has become a subject about which it is impossible to have a temperate conversation. Ironically, the debate has become hostage to the public policy absolutism that the National Reform Summit was designed to avoid.

The fear that the unscrupulous rich are rorting their super has developed into full-blown moral panic. The imagined inequities of the system are discussed ad nau­seam at polite dinner parties, overtaking public subsidies for private education as the wrong that must be righted.

An imagined evil lurks within the superannuation system and the sophisticates are profoundly disturbed. They are overwhelmed by the impulse to put things right.

As sociologist Howard S. Becker wrote in 1964, the moral crusader “feels that nothing can be right in the world until rules are made to correct it”.

“He operates with an absolute ethic; what he sees is truly and ­totally evil with no qualification. Any means is justified to do away with it.”

Crusaders distort the language of debate. They talk of the tax rate on long-held savings as a “concession” when in fact it is nothing of the kind. No other OECD country taxes such savings as ordinary income; were they to do so, the effective tax rate would be extraordinarily high, as Henry Ergas has explained in detail in these pages.

The size of the supposed problem is overstated; the assumed benefits from the proposed solution are over-estimated; the level of support for change is exaggerated.

“Two-thirds of older Australians want the government to curb overly generous superannuation tax concessions for the wealthy,” The Age’s Mark Kenny claimed in April.

What was his evidence for this startling claim? A survey by Your Life Choices magazine “using the online polling tool SurveyMonkey”. Hardly authoritative.

The Labor Party, devoid of any serious economic policy intent, joins crusades such as this to justify its contention that it is the party of compassion. It aims for hearts rather than minds by siding with the self-professed angels in morally charged debates, such as carbon pricing, refugees and amendments to the marriage act.

Jonah Goldberg writes in The Tyranny of Cliches: “Progressive’’ has become a euphemism for “all good things.” To oppose a progressive argument shows that “you just don’t get it” or, worse, that “you are part of the problem”.

Experienced leaders learn to negotiate popular progressive causes, aware of the skewed priorities, subprime policy and unintended consequences that usually follow. Moral crusaders invariably advocate increased regulation, rather than less. They seldom call for governments to be less intrusive or for less money to be taken in taxes.

For a Labor Party that still refuses to acknowledge the debt burden it created, attacks on wealthy superannuation savers provide a tempting diversion from discussing fiscal repair.

On May 11, opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen told the ABC Insiders that the government “had thrown up the white flag on the deficit”.

Labor, on the other hand, had laid out its package for taxing earnings on super. “They are fully costed,” said Bowen, “which will make a substantial contribution to the budget over the next decade.”

ABC TV’s Chris Uhlmann was rude enough to correct him: “A small contribution.” “Well, a contribution which is important,” insisted Bowen. “More than $20 billion over the next decade.”

Sadly, $2bn a year across a decade won’t come close to paying the interest on the national debt, even if one accepts those figures, which even Bowen doesn’t.

Three weeks earlier, Bowen had announced 10-year savings of $14.3 billion in a package he said was “responsible, fair and final”.

Bowen argues that 38 per cent of the imagined “concessions” are claimed by the wealthiest 10 per cent of the population. Yet that is not entirely unreasonable, since that same cohort pays 45 per cent of income tax collected.

Labor should take stock before its trashes its economic credentials completely. Closing imagined loopholes is just a sly excuse for tax hikes. And as Labor leader Bill Shorten made a point of telling the August summit, “increasing tax is not tax reform”.


Hawkei: Army to spend $1.3 billion on Australian-made replacement for ageing Land Rover fleet

The Federal Government has announced it will spend $1.3 billion on new light armoured personnel carriers for the Army.

The Hawkei vehicles will be manufactured by Thales Australia, which also makes the Bushmaster armoured personnel carrier, in Bendigo. They will replace part of the Army's ageing Land Rover fleet.

The Australian Army will order 1,100 Hawkeis, which are classed as "light protected mobility vehicles".

Equipped with a V-shaped hull which Thales says will help deflect IED blasts, the vehicles can be armed with weapons including heavy machine guns and grenade launchers, and is light enough to be carried by a Chinook helicopter.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne made the announcement at a test facility at Monegeetta, north of Melbourne on Monday morning.

Mr Turnbull said the investment will generate 170 jobs in technology manufacturing and provide soldiers with the best equipment available.

"This $1.3 billion investment will mean greater capability for Defence, around 170 more jobs in the innovative frontier of technology manufacturing in Victoria, and will consolidate Australia's position as a world leader in military transport technology," he said.

"The men and women of our armed services are entitled to the best equipment we can provide them to do their job and do it well, to faithfully defend our nation and our national interests.

"It's been designed with the future in mind so that as new technology becomes available it can be engineered into the vehicle to give our soldiers the best available tools in the most dangerous situations."

Ms Payne said the Australian-made vehicle would be a world leader and said there was "enormous potential" for it to be sold internationally.

"The fact that it is a lighter vehicle than the traditional Bushmaster, the fact that it has a degree of mobility in very high-risk areas, and has a significant degree of blast and ballistic protection for our serving members means that it should be very attractive on the international market," she said.

"We will work closely with Australian defence industries to make the most of those opportunities wherever and whenever we can.

"As well as Victoria there's obviously support and sustainment activities that occur elsewhere in Australia as well, so it does have a positive and very beneficial effect for Australian industry elsewhere."

The Government estimates the project will keep 170 jobs in the region and sustain another 60 in wider Victoria.

Thales was identified in December 2011 as the Federal Government's preferred bidder, and prototypes of the Hawkei have undergone a testing process since.


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