Friday, February 03, 2017
Trump criticizes Obama refugee deal
I entirely agree with Mr Trump. If Australia won't have these galoots, why should America?
DONALD Trump has tweeted his disapproval of a “dumb deal” to take refugees from Australia just hours after details emerged of a hostile conversation he had with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the weekend.
The US President was apparently angry about having to honour an agreement to take refugees from Manus Island and Nauru, and blasted Mr Turnbull over the deal during a call on Saturday.
Details of the angry conversation came to light after days of conflicting reports about whether the US would honour the deal negotiated by the Obama administration.
Following an awkward press conference where Mr Turnbull refused to comment about the discussion, the US Embassy in Australia released a statement that the deal would go ahead.
But about 3pm (AEDT) Mr Trump took to Twitter to reveal his personal thoughts, posting: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”.
In comments this afternoon on Sydney radio station 2GB, Mr Turnbull said he was surprised and disappointed there was an apparent leak of the details of the call in Washington, and that these types of calls usually remained completely confidential.
“The report that the President hung up is not correct, the call ended courteously,” Mr Turnbull said.
But when asked whether Mr Trump actually said “this was the worst call by far” during the conversation, Mr Turnbull said he did not want to go into any further details.
The PM also remained confident about the deal going ahead despite Mr Trump’s tweet, saying there was a commitment from the President, confirmed several times by the government.
Judge slams ‘racist sentiment’ and says law will uphold fairness
A very strange blast from the ivory tower: Judge uses something that happened in 1888 to criticize Australians today. There is not even a valid analogy. What the Abbott/Turnbull government has done is entirely within the law
THE state’s top judge has launched a stunning attack on “popular sentiment’’ and “xenophobia’’ in Australia, claiming only he and his fellow judicial officers — not the government — could be relied upon to promote fairness and equality.
During a controversial speech to officially open the 2017 law year last night, Chief Justice Tom Bathurst claimed the rule of law in Australia was in danger because of rampant racism, in a clear attack on populist government policies on immigration.
Coming in the middle of US President Donald Trump’s crackdown on Muslim immigrants and the Brexit vote by Britain to quit the European Union, Chief Justice Bathurst’s choice of topic to mark the start of the new law term will be seen as pointedly political.
“It should give us pause that one of the most serious threats to the rule of law in Australia was grounded in xenophobia,” Chief Justice Bathurst said, echoing concerns expressed by his left-leaning predecessor Jim Spigelman.
The chief justice referred to a historic legal case which could be seen as a parallel to current immigration policies.
In 1888, the NSW government ordered police to stop Chinese passengers getting off a ship which had arrived in Sydney Harbour. After a legal challenge by one of the passengers, the Supreme Court ruled that the detention of the passengers was illegal.
Nevertheless the government of the day stood its ground and “maintained this defiance of the rule of law for a considerable period of time”, leading the then-chief justice to “admonish the government’s actions as unprecedented and in flagrant disregard of the law”, Chief Justice Bathurst said.
He said the government finally gave in.
The story demonstrated the role of the judiciary and the legal profession in promoting equality, fairness and the rule of law “in spite of popular sentiment”, the chief justice said.
He said the “inflammatory” language of the NSW Premier Sir Henry Parkes in 1888 would be familiar today.
Sir Henry had defended his government’s actions, dismissing the court ruling as “technical” and saying “there is one law which overrides all others and that is the law of preserving the peace and welfare of civil society”.
Chief Justice Bathurst said confidence in the justice system was crucial for victims to be willing to report crimes, witnesses to be willing to testify, and the community to be ready to “peacefully” accept court verdicts and comply with court orders — “even those which are vehemently disagreed with”.
Backlash over Malcolm Turnbull’s $1.75m donation to Liberal Party
A politician cannot contribute to his own campaign??? A very strange idea
Malcolm Turnbull has hit back at Bill Shorten over Labor claims he “bought himself an election”, saying that unlike the Opposition Leader, he is his own man, and not a wholly owned union subsidiary.
The Prime Minister revealed last night that he had made the contribution, which was not included in yesterday’s Australian Electoral Commission disclosures because it was paid during the current financial year.
After dodging questions about the amount at a Press Club address yesterday, the Prime Minister later confirmed the figure during a 7.30 interview.
Today Mr Turnbull said that in donating $1.75 million to the Liberal Party, he was putting his money where his mouth is.
“I have contributed my money, my after-tax money, to the Liberal Party, standing up for the values that I believe are critically important for Australia’s future,” Mr Turnbull told reporters at a media conference.
“I can’t be bought by anyone. I’m not a wholly-owned subsidiary of the CFMEU like Bill Shorten. “I’m my own man, and Bill Shorten hates that.”
Mr Turnbull said Mr Shorten hated his good fortune and financial independence. “He goes out there every day and he attacks me for having done well, paid tax, made a quid, bought a nice house,” he said. “He hates that, and he calls me Mr Harbourside Mansion.
“He has lived off trade unions or governments all his life.”
Mr Turnbull said Mr Shorten had never invested or created a business which gave jobs to people. “I believe in investing, I believe in jobs, I believe in building the economy that employs the vast majority of Australians - 87 per cent of Australians work in the private sector,” he said.
“Mr Shorten doesn’t like any of that.” Mr Turnbull said Mr Shorten was preoccupied with the politics of envy.
“My contributions to the Liberal Party were made out of my after-tax dollars.”
He said the contributions the CFMEU had made to the Labor Party were pre-tax. “That was, in effect, a tax subsidy given to their donations,” he said.
“We were massively outspent in the election campaign by a combination of Labor, the unions and organisations like GetUp! .
“It’s obvious how many more ads were in supporting the Labor Party in the election versus our side. “They had a big financial advantage and I’m proud to be able to say that I’m my own man.”
Bishop defends Turnbull
Earlier Foreign Minister Julie Bishop defended the Prime Minister’s $1.75 million donation to the Liberal Party, saying he had disclosed it 12 months before he was legally obliged to do so.
“I welcome the fact that our Prime Minister is prepared to invest his own money in causes in which he believes and that includes the Liberal Party,” she said.
“(Opposition Leader) Bill Shorten should be answering questions about the millions of dollars that the unions funnel into the Labor Party, in return for what?
Australia celebrates record trade surplus as exports of coal and iron boom
December's record trade surplus is good news for corporate profits and the government's triple A rating. But economists expect the impact on the real economy to be muted.
Economists were shocked on Thursday as the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed Australia had a $3.51 billion trade surplus in December - well above the forecast $2.2 billion. It is the largest trade surplus for Australia since the data began to be recorded in July 1971.
For the December quarter as a whole, the country notched up a surplus of $4.8 billion in a startling turnaround from the previous quarter's $3.8 billion shortfall. Exports jumped 5.3 per cent to a record $32.6 billion, led by 14 per cent month-on-month leap in coal exports and a 10 per cent rise in iron ore exports. Imports edged up only 0.7 per cent.
Australia's export boom is all the more remarkable for occurring "in a world of weak trade growth and rising fears of protectionism", wrote HSBC economists Paul Bloxham and Daniel Smith. "We have been writing about this story since September, but it is now very clearly showing up in the official trade numbers."
The bumper trade balance would add between 0.2 per cent and 0.4 per cent to the fourth-quarter GDP growth figures, NAB economist Tapas Strickland said.
"That should eliminate any fears out there that Australia was at risk of recording a 'technical recession' after the weak third-quarter GDP figures." A "technical recession" is when GDP contracts for two quarters in a row - Australia's GDP fell 0.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2016.
The trade surplus would sharply shrink the fourth-quarter current account deficit, helping the government maintain Australia's AAA credit rating, CBA chief economist Michael Blythe said.
New system for ranking universities
I don't quite see the point of it. What's so good about "internationalness"? I would have thought that it impeded learning. There was a Chinese law lecturer at my alma mater -- the University of Qld -- a few years ago who had to be sent on leave because the students couldn't understand a word of his "English"
Australia has achieved stellar results in a new league table of universities which has inverted the world order by ranking US institutions as also-rans.
Five Australian institutions claimed top-25 places in the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the most international universities, a new measure that takes account of the proportion of international staff and students and the strength of international reputations and cross-border research collaborations.
Australian National University claimed seventh spot, sandwiched between British heavyweights Oxford and Cambridge at sixth and eighth. Other local highlights included the universities of NSW (14th), Melbourne (18th), Monash (21st) and Sydney (24th). The table’s upper ranks are dominated by institutions in Britain, Australia and small trading hubs where English is widely spoken. Swiss institutions ETH Zurich and the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne claimed the top two places, followed by the University of Hong Kong and National University of Singapore.
The top 20 also includes institutions in Canada and France, but none in the US. Massachusetts Institute of Technology claimed 22nd space, followed by Harvard (33rd), Stanford (36th) and Princeton (37th). All four are in the top 10 of university rankings.
Analysts say the league table, compiled before the Trump presidency, is a sign of things to come as the US’s inward-looking stand isolates it from global talent pools. Britain’s international standing is also set to fall because of onerous visa settings and the withdrawal from the EU, and Australia is well placed to capitalise, they say.
ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt, an American-born Nobel laureate, credited an external focus “built into our DNA” for the university’s success.
“We want to be able to bring expertise and knowledge from around the world to answer the big questions,” Professor Schmidt said. “We go after the best people. We’re in elite company and that gives us opportunities to go out and build on our strengths.”
Analyses have found that the average distance between collaborating researchers has more than quadrupled since 1980, and studies are now mostly cited in countries where they were not undertaken.
“It is simply not possible to achieve high levels of excellence without being open to the world,” ETH Zurich president Lino Guzzella said. “I know of no top university that does not have a substantial percentage of its faculty, students and workforce that are international.”
Malaysian-born Hoe Tan said there were 32 nationalities in ANU’s research school of physics, where he is deputy head. He said his own field of nanotechnology was “very internationalised”, with foreign collaborations boosting results and the prospects of commercialisation.
“Not only does it help in terms of research, but also in terms of the students’ experience,” Professor Tan said.
Times Higher Education World University Rankings editor Phil Baty said the US and Britain were sending out “powerful messages that are likely to deter international talent”.
“Australia is one of the key nations best placed to capitalise and bolster the overall performance of its universities,” he said.
Professor Schmidt said Australia’s international outlook helped counterbalance the “meagre resources” allocated to its universities. He said that while US institutions had far more resources their domestic focus worked against them.
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