Thursday, March 01, 2018

"Sharksteeth" has been told to keep her mouth shut, it would appear

Up until her election win, most photos of NZ PM Jacinda Ardern had shown her as smiling -- and a very big smile it was, with all teeth fully exposed.

Lately, however, most pictures of her seem to show her with either a much more restrained smile or even with her mouth rather painfully closed. 

One understands that but it makes her look a lot less pleasant.  She obviously has a "bite" problem that it would take maxillo-facial surgery to correct but maybe that would be better than restrained smiling when she so obviously is inclined to let it all beam out.

The former Mormon certainly is an unusual lady.  A lot of Kiwis are still wondering how she became Prime Minister of their country with only a third of the vote.  She has announceed a big raft of new spending but when the bills come in to pay for it all will be interesting. I guess New Zealand has to have its version of Julia Gillard.

Censoring the press in order to butter up Muslims?

Independent adjudicator -- The Press Council -- says the article is ok.  Government says it is not -- and won't give reasons

FOR what appears to be the first time, the Classification Board has taken the extraordinary censorship decision to ban an Australian news site from reporting a terror threat.

TODAY, has published a Press Council decision that ruled in its favour — accepting there was public interest in its article publicising the disturbing ways Islamic State was trying to target potential victims through sites like Gumtree.

The problem is, the article titled “Islamic State terror guide encourages luring victims via Gumtree, eBay” no longer exists.

A week after it was published on May 31, 2017, the Attorney-General’s office contacted to demand it be taken down, saying the Classification Board had ruled it should be refused classification as it “directly or indirectly” advocated terrorist acts.

It appears to be the first time section 9A of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 has been used to censor a news report, since it was first added in 2007.

The action has alarmed the publisher of as Australian media in general were not informed the Classification Board had the power to ban news stories or that the eSafety Commissioner had the power to instigate investigations into news articles.

“The first knew of this matter was when contacted by the Attorney-General’s Department and advised of the Classification Board decision,” argued as part of a separate Press Council investigation into the article.

“The department, board and the eSafety Commissioner did not contact beforehand to advise of the investigation. Consequently, was not given the right to make submissions or a defence in regard to the article.” removed the article as it was facing legal penalties from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) if it refused, including fines or even civil or criminal legal action.

In justifying its decision, the Classification Board noted the article contained “detailed references and lengthy quotations from Rumiyah (Islamic State’s propaganda magazine)” with limited author text to provide context. asked the board why there was no opportunity for news organisations to defend the article based on public interest grounds but a response provided by a spokesman for the eSafety Commissioner did not directly address this.

The spokesman said the board did consider whether the material could “reasonably be considered to be done merely as part of public discussion or debate, or as entertainment or satire” before making its decision.

He also acknowledged this may have been the first time a news article had been censored using this section.

Passages in the article were taken from of Islamic State propaganda magazine Rumiyah.
Passages in the article were taken from of Islamic State propaganda magazine Rumiyah.Source:Supplied

“We are not aware of any similar decisions by the Classification Board, however we are aware of ongoing efforts by government departments, universities and indeed industry bodies such as the Australian Press Council to encourage and promote responsible, balanced reporting of news and issues relating to terrorism,” the spokesman said.

There is now concern about what the situation means for the operation of a free and independent media in Australia.

Representatives of have tried numerous times to get further explanation from the Attorney-General’s Department about the operation of the powers but these have been unsuccessful.

Recent inquiries to the department about how it became involved, whether the application of section 9A is reasonable or could be considered censorship, have also not been addressed.

“The Attorney-General was appointed in December 2017 and is therefore not aware of what discussions may or may not have taken place between the office of his predecessor and media outlets,” a spokesman for the Attorney-General told

“Classification Board decisions are a matter for that agency which sits in the Communications portfolio.”

The eCommissioner has also declined to reveal the source of “several complaints” that sparked its review, and whether they were from a member of the public or from a government official or representative.

“It is inappropriate to comment on the identity of individuals submitting complaints about offensive and illegal content, or to disclose any other information which could compromise the operational integrity of the investigation process,” a spokesman said. editor-in-chief Kate de Brito said any censorship of the media by a government department raised serious concerns about press freedom.

“This is a deeply concerning development of media censorship. The Classification Board has silenced the reporting of a legitimate threat to the Australian public,” she said. “Australians have a right to know if their safety or lives are being placed at risk — there can be few more important matters of public interest.

“The secretive way the Classifications Board acted in this way is a direct attack on freedom of the press and journalists should condemn it.”

While the Press Council also received at least one complaint about the article, its ruling published today found there was a public interest in publishing the article.

It agreed the article featured limited author input, analysis or context but accepted the need to warn the public.

“The Council accepts the public interest in alerting readers to potential risks to their safety,” the ruling says.

“The Council considers that on balance, the public interest in alerting readers to the dangerous content of the terrorist propaganda and its instructional detail was greater than the risk to their safety posed by the publication’s effective republication of terrorist propaganda content.”


Australia and East Timor agree on maritime border, 'pathway' to develop gas field

More natural gas!

East Timor and Australia have reached an agreement for a treaty on their disputed maritime border and on a "pathway" to develop the giant Greater Sunrise offshore gas fields, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague says.

Under the agreement, the share of revenue from the offshore gas field will differ depending on downstream benefits that arise from "different development concepts", the statement released following talks in Kuala Lumpur said.

The agreement would establish a maritime boundary in the Timor Sea for the first time.

Australia had sought a boundary aligned with its continental shelf, but East Timor argued the border should lie half way between it and Australia — placing much of the Greater Sunrise fields under its control.

In 2002 East Timor gained independence and the Timor Sea Treaty was signed, but no permanent maritime border was negotiated.

East Timor has long argued the border should sit halfway between it and Australia, placing most of the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field in their territory.

The long-running dispute had led the owners of Greater Sunrise — Woodside Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and Japan's Osaka Gas — to shelve the project.

The fields are estimated to hold 144 billion cubic metres of gas and 226 million barrels of condensates, which analysts have previously estimated could be worth up to $50 billion.

However, development could be at least a decade away, with Woodside looking at the latter half of the next decade.

Ending years of opposition, Australia agreed in 2017 to accept Dili's formal notice to terminate an agreement to split petroleum revenue equally from Greater Sunrise and set a 50-year timetable for negotiating a permanent sea boundary.

Dili had taken the long-running maritime border dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an intergovernmental organisation based at The Hague, which ordered compulsory arbitration between the two parties.

The court announced last year that the countries had reached an agreement "on the central elements of a maritime boundary delimitation between them in the Timor Sea" — but that details would remain confidential until the deal was finalised.

The two governments will meet in New York at the United Nations headquarters on March 6 to sign the new maritime boundary treaty, the statement said.

East Timor had been pushing for the building of an onshore processing plant to boost its economy rather than a floating plant.

According to media reports, East Timor could receive up to 80 per cent of revenue, but could agree to less if gas is piped to a terminal in the tiny country.

The Sunrise joint venture, led by Woodside, said it was aware the two governments had agreed on a new maritime boundaries treaty.

"We hope that the Commission's conclusions and the signing of the treaty will help to provide the fiscal and regulatory certainty required to develop Greater Sunrise for the benefit of all parties," a Sunrise joint venture spokeswoman said.

Australia's foreign ministry said the countries had "agreed [on] a draft treaty establishing our maritime boundaries and the sharing of revenue from the development of the Greater Sunrise resource".

In the emailed statement, the ministry said the countries would "continue to work towards a decision on the development concept for Greater Sunrise".

East Timor's oil minister, Hernani Filomena Coelho da Silva, said his country's preference was for the gas to come to his country to help development.


South Australia election: Xenophon’s party to force ice users into rehab

Ice users in South Australia will be forced into rehabilitation under an election policy announced by Nick Xenophon’s SA-BEST party.

Xenophon made the promise during a social issues debate in Adelaide on Tuesday involving the three candidates for premier. Xenophon, Labor’s Premier Jay Weatherill and Liberal leader, Steven Marshall.

Xenophon says he wants to slash the use of ice by half by 2020.

“Successive governments at state and federal level have had not had effective strategies in place to tackle the scourge of ice,” Xenophon said.

If his party has the balance of power, he will seek to pass legislation establishing mandatory rehab and detox facilities for ice users within the first three months.

The debate was a picture of shifting alliances from one topic to the next, with Marshall and Xenophon teaming up to criticise Weatherill over child protection services.

They argued the Labor government failed to adequately respond to the recommendations of a two-year royal commission prompted by the arrest of paedophile carer Shannon McCoole that concluded in 2016.

Marshall criticised the Weatherill government for failing to have a dedicated child protection minister, and pledged that a Liberal government would appoint one.

“You judge a state by how it defends its most vulnerable, and on that Labor stands condemned,” Marshall said.

Weatherill was scoffed at by the audience when he attempted to respond to a previous question directed at Xenophon rather than address the child protection question that had been put to him.

The alliance was temporary however, with Weatherill and Marshall joining forces to urge the focus on poker machines be moved over to online gambling rather than Xenophon’s approach to what the Labor leader described as Xenophon’s “backdoor” attempt to “close down venues by destroying their viability”.

Xenophon said pokies “remain a going concern” and pointed to the Australian Hotels Association financially backing both the Labor and Liberal parties.

The SA Best leader moved between gambling addiction and drug addiction, expressing concern that sewage analysis of Adelaide showed the city to have the highest methylamphetamine levels per person of anywhere in the country.

“My concern is those country communities that don’t have wastewater systems but just septic tanks, and the fear that they have even higher use,” he said.

He is also calling for a significant boost in funding for treatment programs and for monitoring of their effectiveness.

The former senator said during a recent murder investigation in Murray Bridge, east of Adelaide, police were shocked at the extent of ice use in the regional centre.

“The fact that a senior respected police officer was shocked by what was found is a wake-up call for all of us,” Xenophon said.

Weatherill also referenced the “scourge of ice” when he used the debate to launch a $70m commitment to outreach and support services for suicide prevention.

As ever in South Australian politics, energy was never far from the conversation. Marshall criticised Xenophon for a lack of detail of how his non-for-profit energy retailer would work, and attacked Labor for abandoning baseload power for intermittent renewables, pointing to his policy for a new interconnector with New South Wales and a $100m household battery storage scheme.

Xenophon spruiked his role in securing a concessional loan from the Turnbull government for the Aurora solar thermal plant in Port Augusta, and said his support for a new interconnector would depend on it being “modelled appropriately”.

Weatherill framed the power prices issue as one of a lack of competition, urging a rollout of more power generation. “The way you smash control of large gentailers is to introduce new forms of generation and retail it,” he said.  “They’re screwing us because they’ve got the power to screw us.”

Digital inclusion was another hot topic, with Weatherill pledging the Labor government would supply laptops to every year 10, 11 and 12 student in the state.

Xenophon said SA-Best would focus on using libraries as hubs of digital inclusion, and Marshall highlighted a $10m commitment to rolling out better internet access in regional areas.

Questions were sourced from online submissions made by the public and pulled out of red, blue and orange hats, representing the colours of the three major parties, to the amusement of Marshall.

“It’s like we’re on a game show,” he said.


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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