Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Panic that foreign boats are set to fish in Australian waters

They always have done -- on case by case arrangements.  Some good fishing grounds are remote from Australian fishing ports so are "under-fished".  In those cases selected foreign boats that comply with Australian crewing and other standards are allowed catches by the Australian government.

The panic is to distract from the Turnbull government's move towards unlocking big fisheries that were locked up for no good reason by the last Greenie-influenced Labor government.  There are at the moment very few areas of Queensland waters where fishing is allowed, leaving a valuable food source unused

Australia has vast areas suitable for sustainable fishing but Greenie inspired fishing bans mean that Australia imports a lot of its table fish-- particularly from New Zealand

The federal government is stripping marine protections from remote waters off the Australian coast because it plans to change the law to allow foreign fishing boats with low-paid crews to fish there, a leading fisheries expert claims.

The suggestion, backed by conservationists, has been rejected by the government as "unsubstantiated scaremongering".

However the Australian Fisheries Management Authority says some waters are being under-fished and they are in talks with several operators about allowing foreign boats to operate in Australia's fishing zone under existing laws.

The Turnbull government has proposed changes to the 3.3 million square kilometres of Australia's protected offshore regions, allowing commercial fishing in a host of sensitive marine areas.

Dr Quentin Hanich, head of fisheries governance research at the University of Wollongong's Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, said many of the proposed changes were in distant waters far from port and "it had never been profitable for the fishers to go there".

"But if you allow cheap distant-water vessels to come in ... those vessels won't come into port. That combined with subsidised fuel, a $1000 annual wage and a whole bunch of problems with the way they treat their crews means they have incredibly low costs and can fish those remote areas," he said.

"Not only does that undermine the protection of those conservation values, it will return incredibly little benefit to Australia."

Dr Hanich, who advises international organisations and governments on fisheries governance and marine conservation, said such a scenario would require law changes allowing cheap foreign boats.

He believed the government's proposed weakening of protected marine areas was based on "hypothetical future changes in Australian regulations on foreign vessels [that] may enable industry to reduce business costs and fish in these previously economically marginal zones".

Dr Hanich questioned the economic need to relax marine protections, saying official estimates showed that under current laws, it would result in a mere $4 million gain to the Australian fishing industry.

There are no foreign boats operating in the Australian fishing zone. Foreign boats can be deemed Australian, and allowed to fish in Australian waters, when there are no domestic boats of that type available – such as large distant-water boats that can deep-freeze fish and stay at sea for long periods. Such boats must operate under Australian standards.

AFMA confirmed it has been in "discussions with a number of operators this year about deeming boats to be Australian across several fisheries".

At a Senate estimates hearing in October, AFMA chief executive James Findlay said there was "significant underfishing ... going on in a number of quota-managed fisheries."

"We're only taking about half of the quota that we've scientifically demonstrated is sustainable. Understandably, quota holders are looking to explore opportunities to harvest that quota ... they're looking at opportunities on the global market to bring in cheap capacity," he said.

Mr Findlay said the moves were not linked to the wind-back of marine protections.

However Pew Charitable Trusts oceans director Michelle Grady insisted the "ambition of the tuna industry to see very deep water remote areas fished" was driving the marine park changes.

This could lead to increased bycatch of threatened species, depleted fish stocks and the loss of large conservation areas, she said.

Water Resources Minister Anne Ruston said such claims had "no substance".

"Of course it is not the intention, nor has it ever been the intention, of the government to allow foreign fishing vessels to fish in Australian waters as a result of changes to marine park zoning," she said.

Tuna Australia chief executive David Ellis described as "absurd" the claim that the Australian fishing industry required foreign vessels to access fishing areas, and said Australia was "recognised worldwide as a leader in sustainable fishery management".

Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin said cheap foreign labour "results in a race to the bottom rather than decent wages for all", and unions would fight any such move in the fishing industry.


Conservative Liberal Party members the big winners in Turnbull’s reshuffle

Rising conservative stars Christian Porter and Dan Tehan have emerged as the big winners in Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle, as the Prime Minister moves to renew his frontbench.

Mr Turnbull is expected to announce today the make-up of his new ministry, which will leave the majority of his senior leadership team unchanged.

The Australian has confirmed that Mr Tehan, a regional Victorian MP who is currently Veterans Affairs Minister, will be elevated into cabinet following demands from country Liberal MPs for representation at the cabinet table.

Mr Porter, the Social Services Minister from Western Australia who has been lauded for his work on welfare reforms, has been confirmed as the replacement for Attorney-General George Brandis who will retire and replace Alexander Downer as the High Commissioner in London. Mr Porter’s promotion opens the possibility that Mr Tehan will take over the critical role of social services minister.

The Australian also understands that cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos, who stepped down due to ill health, will not return to cabinet, leaving another vacancy.

Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will, as revealed by The Australian, take over the critical transport and infrastructure portfolios from Victorian Nationals MP Darren Chester in an attempt to boost the government’s stocks in regional Australia.

There was speculation last night that Mr Chester would be dumped from cabinet by Mr Joyce to make way for another Nationals MP, with the junior Coalition partner set to retain its quota of five cabinet positions. This would leave Mr Joyce, who has ultimate say over which Nationals MPs go into cabinet, to try to resolve demands by the Queensland Nationals for greater representation.

NSW senator Marise Payne will keep the defence portfolio, ­despite speculation she would seek appointment as the Australian ambassador to NATO and suggestions that she had not performed well in defence.

Treasury, health, education, and foreign affairs will all remain unchanged. Speculation that sacked former ministers Stuart Robert and Sussan Ley would be returned, were last night dismissed by senior government sources.

It has also been speculated that NSW conservative MP Angus Taylor will take the second cabinet vacancy left by Mr Sinodinos, ­although this had not been confirmed last night.

In a reshuffle that will avert major ructions at the same time as promoting new talent, the Prime Minister is believed to be promoting Queensland LNP MP John McVeigh, who served as agriculture minister in the state government of Campbell Newman from 2012-15, into the ministry.

The shake-up of ministers under new Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is believed to include a security minister and an immigration minister. Justice Minister Michael Keenan, another name being speculated on for a promotion into cabinet, would otherwise be a candidate to take on the security role.

Bridget McKenzie, the new deputy leader of the Nationals whose predecessor Fiona Nash was forced from parliament over dual citizenship, goes straight into cabinet and is tipped to take Mr Joyce’s portfolios of agriculture and water, despite never having held a ministerial portfolio.

A senior government source said there would be no “purge of cabinet” but the changes would not be insignificant, with new portfolios expected to be named. A senior Liberal MP said Mr Turnbull needed the reshuffle to “reset”.

Queensland LNP sources were warning last night that Mr Turnbull faced triggering a fresh round of hostilities with the LNP if he failed to elevate Queenslanders in his reshuffle, amid bitter feelings the state had been overlooked in previous frontbench shake-ups.

The departure of Senator Brandis is set to reduce Queensland representation in cabinet to just three MPs: Mr Dutton, Trade Minister Steven Ciobo and ­Resources Minister Matt Canavan. There are 26 Queenslanders, including Senator Brandis, represented on the government benches across both houses, with 21 in the lower house and five in the Senate.

LNP sources said the Prime Minister needed to work on ­refining his political message in Queensland, given the poor state election result, the defection of conservative voters to alternative parties such as One Nation and the possibility of a by-election in the marginal seat of Longman held by Labor MP Susan Lamb.

Ms Lamb, who holds Longman by a margin of 0.8 per cent, could be referred to the High Court in the new year over concerns she may have been a British citizen when she was elected, in breach of section 44 of the Constitution.


Welfare payments stripped from migrants

Newly-arrived migrants will have to wait longer before receiving a range of welfare payments under a hardline new approach expected to save $1.3 billion.

It will be three years before migrants can receive family tax benefits, paid parental leave or carer allowances.

The push to "encourage self-sufficiency" among new migrants was one of the headline savings measures announced by Treasurer Scott Morrison in a mid-year budget outlook on Monday.

Vulnerable people as well as New Zealanders who enter the country under a special visa stream will be granted exemptions.

The Turnbull government also expects to save about $1 billion over the forward estimates by cracking down harder on family daycare payments.

Money has been set aside for a controversial plan to drug test welfare recipients, despite the trials being put on ice.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the divisive drug testing regime remained coalition policy.

"We remain committed to it and we continue to work with all non-government senators in order to a secure majority (support) for what is a very, very important welfare reform measure," he told reporters in Canberra.


IPA calls for 27,000 public service job cuts

THE federal government has been urged to slash the size of the public service by more than 27,000 jobs to bring numbers back to 2001 levels.

But the public sector union argues any further cuts would have “disastrous consequences” for ordinary Australians and further degrade access to services including Centrelink and Medicare.

In a parliamentary research paper distributed to federal MPs on Monday, free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) argued a “substantial reduction” in the size of the public sector was required to tackle the national debt, which is forecast to hit $1 trillion by 2037.

Based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Australian Public Sector Commission (APSC), the paper puts the number of Commonwealth public servants as of June 2017 at 239,800, down 1.4 per cent on the previous year when there were 243,200 employees, and down from a peak of around 250,000 during the Rudd and Gillard governments.

“Official data shows that public sector employee numbers are declining, but the public sector wage bill continues to increase,” IPA legal fellow Aaron Lane said in a statement. “Although progress has been made, further consolidation is needed.”

The Liberal-aligned group has previously called for the public service to be reduced to “at least” the 2001 low of 212,784. On current figures, that would require a reduction of 27,016 positions, or approximately 11.3 per cent.

“Worryingly, at a time of perennial budget deficits, the cost of the public sector continues to increase,” Mr Lane said. “This means that a reduction in the number of public sector employees has not led to overall budget savings.

“Annual wage and salary costs amounted to $21.1 billion for 2016-17. This is up approximately $95 million on the previous year, and an increase of $5.75 billion since 2007-08.”

Mr Lane said the increased costs had been fuelled by pay increases locked in by “generous” public sector bargaining agreements, and by a growth in the proportion of executive and senior executive positions.

“For instance, in 2002, 19.4 per cent of APS employees were engaged at executive level classifications — in 2017 the proportion is 26.2 per cent,” he said.

“ABS figures show that average weekly earnings in the public sector are consistently higher than that of the private sector. The latest figures report that average weekly earnings in the public sector were $1410.60 compared to private sector earnings of $1123.50 — a difference of $287.10.

“The gap between public sector and private sector pay has widened over the last decade, indicating that wage increases in the public sector are outpacing those in the private sector.

“Of course, pay increases in the private sector are funded by businesses earning revenue through creating value — pay increases in the public sector are funded through higher taxes or larger deficits.”

Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood hit back at the research. “Seriously, what planet does the IPA live on? They really need to get out more if they think cutting more Commonwealth jobs is a good idea,” she said.

“The Turnbull government’s shortsighted job cuts might have curried favour with extreme elements like the IPA and [Liberal Senator] Eric Abetz, but they’ve had disastrous consequences for ordinary Australians as public service standards have fallen.

“IPA-style cuts are the reason why you simply can’t get through to Centrelink on the phone, as 55 million calls went unanswered last year alone. They’ve also led to an ever-growing list of policy disasters for this government, from Census fail to the tax office’s online woes.”

Ms Flood said the IPA wanted public sector jobs cut “so that money can instead be handed over to consultants like KPMG, Deloitte, EY and PwC”.

“Outsourcing is the Turnbull Government’s dirty secret, downgrading public services so they can line the pockets of corporations that often pay little or no tax,” she said.

“Billions of dollars is being wasted on outsourcing, which is why a Parliamentary inquiry was launched just last week. There’s been a deafening silence from the IPA on this shameful waste of taxpayer money, which makes their real motivations crystal clear.”

Shadow Employment Minister Brendan O’Connor said, “You can tell a lot about a government by how it treats its workers and Turnbull and his Liberals have presided over deep cuts to public sector jobs.

“Is it any wonder we have regularly seen critical tax office system crashes, millions of unanswered Centrelink calls, long waits for Medicare and gaps in our crime fighting capability? More cuts to our public service would further erode the expertise and experience of our public servants.”


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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