Sunday, May 31, 2015

Action on damage to the GBR

I love reading the far-Left "New Matilda".  They are such crooks.  The article below is critical of the Abbott government in being slow to prosecute an erring Chinese shipping company.  It TOTALLY omits to mention that the accident happened during the Leftist Rudd regime and that the Leftists had 3 YEARS to do something but did nothing.  If they had a shred of decency the Matildas would be CONGRATULATING Abbott.  But there's no decency in Leftism -- only rage, hate anger and lies

The Abbott government is finally moving to sue a Chinese shipping company that destroyed a section of the Great Barrier Reef in 2010. But Greens Environment spokesperson, Larissa Waters wants action on repair. Thom Mitchell reports.

The federal government is suing a Chinese company which caused “the largest known direct impact on a coral reef” when one of its ships ran aground in the Great Barrier Reef off Rockhampton in 2010.

The Chinese-registered Shen Neng 1 ran aground on April 3 in 2010, and “despite ongoing attempts to have the ship’s owner pay for damages, the Commonwealth was unsuccessful in securing funds from the ship owner or its insurer to clean-up and remediate the site”.

Yesterday, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) announced that the government has been left with “no alternative but to take legal action in the Federal Court”.

“This has been a great disappointment, particularly given the nature and scale of the incident, and GBRMPA remains concerned about the long-term health of the shoal,” said Dr Russell Reichelt, the Authority’s Chairman.

“The Commonwealth is seeking damages from the ship’s owner for the cost of remediation of the shoal or, as an alternative, orders requiring remediation of the shoal by the ship’s owner.”

A government report into the incident, handed down in June 2011, examined the affect the ship’s grounding had on the reef.

“The vessel grounding caused significant impacts to the habitats of Douglas Shoal, with extensive areas of severe physical damage to, and destruction of, the shoal habitats and considerable contamination by toxic chemicals,” the report found.

Around 115,000 square metres of the shoal were “severely damaged or destroyed” as the ship remained grounded for nine days, and 400,000 more square metres suffered “patchy or moderate” damage.

In a statement yesterday, Dr Reichelt said contamination from toxic chemicals was of ongoing concern.

“Contamination of sediments by tributyltin, a highly toxic component of anti-foulant paint now banned in Australia for current use, was severe, although highly patchy,” according to the GBRMPA report.

“Strong mixing of the waters over the shoal will mean that the effects of this contamination may be spread very widely, well beyond the area of direct contact with the ship's hull.

“There was also significant pollution by oil, and by oil dispersants, at the time of the grounding,” with oil found on islands up to 25 kilometres from the grounding site.

The government’s announcement that it will go to the courts to try to seek funding for rehabilitation comes off the back of allegations on Tuesday that it has so far failed in that task.


Must not show ferals as feral

Mt. Druitt is a Sydney suburb with a very low rating on socio-economic status:  Much welfare dependency and crime

The bosses behind the controversial program, Struggle Street, will be asked to defend the show at federal parliament on Wednesday.  SBS CEO Michael Ebeid will be questioned about how the show was funded in a Senate Estimates hearing.

Mr Ebeid's parliamentary appearance comes after Labor MP Ed Husic said the show treated people in Mt Druitt, a suburb in Sydney's west, as 'comedic fodder'. 

Mr Husic, whose electorate includes where the show was filmed, used debate in parliament about increasing SBS advertising to blast the public broadcaster.

SBS used questionable methods and ethics while filming and then put together promotions that ridiculed his constituents, he told parliament on Tuesday.

'They were treated as simple comedic fodder by SBS, there to be denigrated and demeaned and all for one purpose and one purpose only: to boost ratings,' Mr Husic said, according to the AAP.

'If SBS wants more advertising to promote this type of rubbish TV that has gone on and demeaned the people of the area that I represent, then quite frankly ... they should not have the opportunity.'

Mr Husic's comments were backed up by Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who will be one of the people to question Mr Ebeid, according to News Corp Australia.

'What the officials from SBS need to do is explain how that was a good use of taxpayer dollars and how that meets their greater charter,' Mr Dastyari said.

The documentary was heavily criticised when it aired, however it also proved a ratings winner for the network with almost 2 million people tuning in to watch it over the two weeks it aired.

Some families who appear in the series believe were been unfairly depicted.  Ashley and Peta Kennedy decided to take part in the SBS three-part series because they wanted to show viewers how they ended up doing it tough - instead they feel they have been portrayed as 'bogans'.

Their Willmot street is made up of a mix of housing commission and privately owned properties, which they say is 'free from drug dealers and hoons'.

'I'm not out there robbing people. I don't drink or smoke. We're everyday battlers keeping our family together,' Grandfather Ashley Kennedy told Daily Mail Australia.  'We like living here, this area is nice. Of course there's riffraff but not everyone is off the rails or on drugs.'

The couple are unemployed and have 10 kids and 18 grandchildren between them.


ABC radio host describes Osama Bin Laden as an 'honoured and respected sheikh' who was a victim of a 'smear campaign'

An Australian radio host has claimed that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was an 'honoured and respected sheik' and has slamming the U.S. for releasing details of his porn collection – bizarrely labelling it a 'smear campaign'.

Steven Austin, morning radio host for the ABC in Queensland, shared his controversial opinion on a Tuesday morning during a segment on advertising called 'The Hidden Persuaders'.

The topic of the conversation was 'the branding of al Queda', which prompted Mr Austin to defend the militant Islamist organisation's founder from accusations of having a porn collection.

'It's fascinating to me that Osama bin Laden, the leader of this jihad, this honoured and respected sheik, was very aware of his media image of al-Quaeda,' Mr Austin said.

The reference to Bin Laden as an 'honoured and respected sheik' has been questioned given the devastation he wrought as a terrorist.

The jihad leader declared war on the U.S. and was responsible for ordering terror attacks, including the September 11 attacks which killed 2996 innocent civilians.

However, the ABC presenter chose to lambast the U.S. for informing the public about Mr bin Laden's porn collection, which Mr Austin suggested never existed.  'When (the United States) dealt with Mr bin Laden, the sheik, they captured a range of documents and book and more – they said he had a collection of porn,' said Mr Austin during the ABC program.  'That looked like a public relations smear to me.'

'You often find that stuff comes out of the US that's about controversial figures, where they always insert that line. So I'd treat that with a certain level of dubiousness,' Mr Austin said during the segment.

The U.S. claimed they discovered the terrorist's extensive porn collection at his hideout, a Pakistani residential compound where he was shot and killed on May 2, 2011.

Mr Austin says it is fascinating to consider bin Laden's fascination with al Quada's media image throughout his time in hiding.

The ABC have defended Mr Austin's comments, insisting his comments do not reflect the presenter's own personal opinion, but rather a description of how bin Laden was seen by his supporters.  'It was not a personal judgment,' an ABC spokesperson told The Courier Mail.

'With respect to the pornography stash and the 'publish relations smear' reference – this is exactly what the segment is about, discussing advertising and how it shapes our lives.'


Ireland abandons its children

Ireland has written a social suicide note and we grieve for her. But we will not follow her.  More than half the Irish have voted for homosexual marriage, seduced by celebrities to violate something they once held sacred: the life between mother, father and child.

From today, the Irish Constitution assumes a mother does not matter to a baby, and a father is irrelevant to his son. That is madness.

A constitutional right to same-sex marriage means a constitutional right to same-sex adoption and surrogacy, and that means motherless and fatherless families are now enshrined as an ideal in the Irish Constitution.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said the vote was “Yes to love” -- but there are children who will never know the love of their mother because of  Friday’s  constitutional amendment. He said it was “Yes to inclusion” -- but it deliberately excludes children of same-sex couples from “the natural and fundamental group unit of society”, which is how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes the trinity of mother, father and child. 

If equality for gay adults means inequality for kids, where is the justice in that?

If removing spurious discrimination against gay adults means imposing genuine discrimination on children who are deliberately deprived of a mother or a father, what is the reason to celebrate?

Gay Irish celebrity blogger Paddy Manning  rejected claims  of discrimination against gay couples, saying, “Marriage is, at its heart, about children and providing those children with their biological parents. Recognising difference is not discrimination.”

Here in Australia, there is no unjust discrimination against same-sex couples in any way, be it taxation, superannuation, Medicare, next of kin status or any other matter, since Federal Parliament amended eighty-five laws in 2008. Same sex couples have full relationship equality and are free to live as they choose; they do not have the right to choose a motherless or fatherless existence for a little child.

Here in Australia, we will resist the dementia that is afflicting the decadent West. If we are the last country standing, we will still not abolish a child’s birthright to the love of her mum or her dad just to gratify the demands of homosexual adults.

Nor will we let our children be taught in school, by force of gay marriage law, that the sexual relationship of two men is no different, legally or morally, to a child’s mother and father in marriage.

For serious gay activists the greatest cultural gain of this referendum will be that all Irish children must now be instructed in the constitutional normality, indeed desirability, of homosexual behaviour, and conscientious objectors will be silenced by the big stick of anti-discrimination law.

We have observed many instances of homosexual enforcement in jurisdictions that have legalised gay marriage: parents in Massachusetts have been denied the right to withdraw their child from lessons by gay activists and church adoption agencies in England have had to close rather than adopt babies to homosexual households. A teacher in London was demoted for refusing to read a storybook to her class promoting same-sex marriage, and the former Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, was reported to police by a Greens Party MP for teaching Christian doctrine on marriage during a sermon. 

This is the uncivil future under a gay marriage regime, and yet the good-natured Irish succumbed to the stupidity of nice. They were trying to be kind to the two percent of their neighbours who identify as same-sex attracted, without understanding that gay strategists have despised marriage for decades as a patriarchal repressive institution and only want it now because it brings with it the power to compel social attitudes.

In Australia we will not be that stupid. There are ways of being kind to our gay neighbours that do not involve violating the foundational relationship of human society: mother, father, child.


Reflections of an Australian diplomat

Dealing with dictators:  Matthew Neuhaus’s career as a diplomat has taken him face‑to-face with some of the world’s most intimidating leaders

It was 1997, and Matthew Neuhaus had just been appointed Australia’s High Commissioner to Nigeria. His first challenge was to present his credentials to General Sani Abacha, military ruler of the African nation and one of the modern era’s most ruthless dictators.

“This was a seriously scary thing to do,” relates Neuhaus (BA ’80, LLB ’82). “Abacha had just [in November 1995] executed political activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Australia had been involved in suspending Nigeria from the Commonwealth.

“I went to present my credentials, and he was sitting there in dark glasses with a pistol beside him, and you felt he might just pick it up and shoot you.”

That meeting set the tone for Neuhaus’s diplomatic career. After Nigeria, he ran the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Political Affairs Division, locking horns with an array of despots, including Fiji’s Frank Bainimarama. He was then posted to Zimbabwe, where the ageing President Robert Mugabe, he observes, is “probably now regarded as the dictator from Central Casting”.

“I often say that if I ever write an autobiography, I’ll call it Dealing with dictators,” the 55-year-old chuckles.

The son of Australian missionaries, Neuhaus grew up in Tanzania, speaking Swahili. He was 16 when the family returned to Australia. In 1976, with just a year or so of formal schooling, he enrolled at the University of Sydney, his father’s alma mater.

The University “opened the door to a wider world”, recalls Neuhaus. Lecturers such as Professor Neville Meaney, who taught his history honours year, and the late Professor David Johnson, an international law expert, were particularly inspirational. He became involved in student politics, encountering, among others, Tony Abbott, who was already earning a reputation as a political bruiser.

Sydney also gave him “a sense of place”. Over a coffee at the Law School café during a quick visit home, he recounts: “I always used to love walking across to the Quadrangle, where I did most of my work … Coming out of the suburbs every day to somewhere like this … you could see there was a goal to work towards and a place for you in the world.”

That place, he decided – guided by Meaney, an Australian foreign policy doyen, and Johnson, who had close links with the United Nations – was the diplomatic service.

And so, after graduating he found himself back in Africa: first Kenya, then Nigeria, and now Zimbabwe, as Ambassador. In between came postings to Port Moresby and the UN, as well as London.

Ask Neuhaus about the diplomat’s role and he quotes two common myths: “that you’re sent abroad to lie for your country and you’re saying nice things all the time.”

What guides him, in reality, is “what we like to call Australian values, many of which are now international values: good governance, democracy, a free society and people’s right to have a say in their lives”.

Just as important as furthering your country’s interests, he says, is standing up for those values, and supporting those standing up for them.

When he first met Mugabe, for example, the Zimbabwean President declared that violence was an inevitable part of the electoral process. Neuhaus politely differed. “I said, ‘No, Your Excellency, I really cannot agree with that. We always manage to have peaceful elections in Australia – quite contentious sometimes, but always very peaceful – and I can’t see why that can’t happen here’.”

Perhaps he made an impression. The country’s next elections, in 2013, were peaceful. But they were not, as Mugabe claimed, “free, fair and credible”. Neuhaus, who had witnessed blatant poll rigging, was outspoken in his criticism, calling the process “fatally flawed”.

Is there an idealistic side to the job? “You know, as a student you’re quite idealistic and looking for opportunities to make a difference. A career in diplomacy does enable you to keep some of that idealism and work for a better world, particularly in a place like Africa.”

At university, Neuhaus says, through his classes in history, philosophy and law, and his involvement in student politics, he imbibed the values that underpin his professional life.

It was an era in which the ideological battles of the Cold War were playing out across Australian campuses, and he found Sydney “in foment”.

Tony Abbott was waging war on compulsory student union fees and a Students’ Representative Council (SRC) dominated by militant left-wingers. Neuhaus remembers the young Abbott, later to become a good friend, as a “natural scrapper” who “had strong beliefs and was already pretty conservative and controversial … [with] a certain charm and charisma in rallying people around him”.

Other contemporaries included Tanya Coleman, who went on to marry future federal treasurer Peter Costello, and Lucy Hughes, who later became Sydney’s first female Lord Mayor (and married Liberal politician Malcolm Turnbull). Neuhaus – who also fondly recalls his time in the Sydney University Regiment – was eventually elected to the SRC himself.

He reveals that he always expected to enter politics after a spell as a diplomat. However, when the opportunity arose for him to make the transition, he was appointed to the Commonwealth Secretariat role and chose that career path instead.

Lately he has felt perturbed by the “increasing negative discourse” in Australian politics, which shocked a visiting delegation of Zimbabwean women politicians last year, he says. “They said to me: ‘We thought we were bad in the Zimbabwean Parliament, the way we shout at each other and carry on, but then we saw the Australian Parliament and realised maybe we aren’t so bad.’

“That’s unfortunate, because we want them to learn to be more understanding of one another, particularly because in Africa that can become a matter of life and death.”



Friday, May 29, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says the exposure of corruption in football is long overdue

Treatment of Illegal immigrants:  This should be widely publicized

More from the deceitful far-Leftist "New Matilda" below.  It will undoubtedly  prove to be a farrago of lies, distortions and selective reporting but it is just the thing to ensure that the boats go elsewhere:  As they are now indeed doing.  So the more the claims below become known among prospective illegals the better it will be for the Australian taxpayer. The claims would make a good deterrent.  I note that it was largely widely published disturbances at detention centres during the Howard government that dried up the flow of boats at that time.

I have not followed the various claims made about the detention centres on Nauru and elsewhere but I do know that the second last case below is grossly misrepresented.  They omit to mention that Barati was as obnoxious as only a Iranian Muslim can be -- both scorning and abusing the native guards and organizing non-co-operation with them.  He may not have known how thin the ice was under his feet.  Melanesians are not like patient old Anglo-Saxons.  They are a warlike people who don't take aggression or insult lying down.  They strike back. And they went for Barati and got him.  It's a wonder he got away with his antics as long as he did

And, insofar as there has been bad behaviour among the mostly Muslim illegals, who is to blame for that?  Judging by current events in the Middle East, shocking behaviour towards one-another is deeply Muslim.  The Australian government did build secure accommodation units on Nauru to help safeguard women and children  but the illegals burnt the buildings concerned down.  So now they just get tents, which no doubt are much less pleasant all round

The Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate. The bill will broaden powers of immigration detention centre staff to use force and will reduce their accountability, placing detention centre operations outside the rule of law.

Having glimpsed immigration detention through the eyes of former Nauru medical staff at a public lecture last week, this is a sobering thought. Speakers described an environment of “dark, chilling lawlessness” rife with sexual assault and abuse, where detainees are known by number rather than name, and where grown women are so frightened that they wet the bed at night.

A nurse and a doctor risked the legal ramifications of breaching their confidentiality agreement in order to speak on behalf of detainees, placing their duty of care to patients first. Among the numerous stories they recounted were those of a seven-year-old who had attempted to hang herself with electric cable ties, a woman denied sanitary pads, soiled and leaving a trail of blood and blood clots where she walked, and another, having been raped in the shower, dismissed by the detention centre psychologist for dressing ‘provocatively’.

We heard that the Government has never disputed the Australian Human Rights Commission findings that from January 2013 to March 2014 there were 233 assaults in detention involving children, 128 children who threatened self-harm and 105 children monitored for self-harm.

At an earlier public lecture in March this year, titled “The Bludgeoning of Chance”, barrister Julian Burnside AO QC also recounted personal stories of detainees.

He described the experience of an 11-year-old girl whose family had fled religious persecution in Iran. After 15 to 18 months in detention in 2002, showing clear signs of trauma, the young girl tried to hang herself with a bed sheet. Her mother, brother and little sister found her hanging, still suffocating but alive.

After relating her story, among others, Julian Burnside said, “In my naivety, I thought that if the rest of Australia knew the things that I had learned, the Government’s refugee policy would not long survive.”

Yet here we are, 13 years later. Detainee Reza Barati has been murdered in offshore detention, bludgeoned in the head according to witnesses, using a stick weaponised with nails, then kicked by a group of guards and finally killed with a rock that was smashed against his head. Witnesses to the event have allegedly been tied to chairs by Wilson guards, beaten, and threatened with rape unless they withdraw their testimony.

Even more recently a five-year-old girl showing signs of sexual abuse has tried to kill herself to avoid being sent back to Nauru. An 8 year-old has drawn a picture of a guard with an erect penis before flinging himself into his mother’s arms in distress. A group of babies and their parents are being transferred to Nauru despite the Government knowing, and having known since November 2013 that it is sending them into an environment of physical and sexual abuse.


Shorten stunt on homosexual marriage

The Irish vote was largely fueled by disgust at their perverted Catholic priests.  Priestly perversion has so antagonized once Holy Ireland that people leapt at the chance to defy priestly teaching. 

Australians, however have never been majority Catholic nor were Australian priests treated like Gods, as they were in Ireland.  So it should not be assumed that Australian voters would do as the Irish did. 

Public opinion polls do show majority support for homosexual marriage in Australia but the recent British election shows that the polls can get it badly wrong on sensitive questions.

 Personally, as a libertarian, I think government should get out of the marriage business altogether and leave it to the churches and the freedom of contract. Alabama has just enacted that so it is not hard

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has confirmed Labor will move a bill to legalise same-sex marriage next week.

The move follows an announcement by the Greens that their Marriage Equality Bill would be brought on for debate in the Senate on June 18 with a view to vote on November 12.

In a statement, Mr Shorten said the time had come for Parliament to debate marriage equality and that he found it unacceptable current laws excluded some individuals.

The bill will come before the House of Representatives on Monday.

"I know this private members bill will not have the universal support of my colleagues," Mr Shorten said.  "It will challenge the deeply held personal beliefs of MPs and senators on both sides of politics.

"This is why Labor members have the freedom to vote their conscience, a freedom Tony Abbott is currently denying his party."

Even with a conscience vote in the Labor Party, Mr Shorten does not have the numbers to pass his bill.

Rather he is using it to urge the Prime Minister to grant a conscience vote to his MPs, something the Coalition already appears to be edging towards.

In recent days, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Australia as the "odd one out" on same-sex marriage among Commonwealth nations including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.

Renewed debate in Australia has been triggered by Ireland's vote in favour of marriage equality in a referendum at the weekend.

"The world isn't waiting for Tony Abbott and our Parliament shouldn't have to," Mr Shorten said.  "I know there are Coalition MPs who'd support marriage equality if Tony Abbott granted them a free vote."

Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos said the Coalition had been waiting to see how the Labor Party would move on the matter. "I know some of my colleagues, like Warren Entsch and others, want to raise the issue and have talked about having game plans on this," he said.  "So we'll wait until next week, but certainly I would support a conscience vote on this."


"Women's spaces"

If you Google "women's space" you will find examples from all sorts of times and places of feminists demanding such spaces.  They want man-free zones, where they can escape from the "patriarchy"

Such demands are more evidence of how egocentric radical feminists and Leftists generally are.  If any other demographic category made such demands, that would be roundly condemned as segregation, apartheid, discrimination etc.  "Segregation is good if we do it but bad if anybody else does it" is the implicit message.

It is not however an explicit message. My son reports that when he was recently on the campus of the University of Queensland -- of which he and I are both graduates -- he was approached by some young women who were handing out small gifts to anyone who signed a petition demanding a women's space on that campus.

He agreed to sign their petition, saying, "I think any group should have the right to exclude people they don't like".  This utterance was greeted with horror, his signature was rejected and he did not get his gift.  He was describing plainly what they wanted but they could not admit that -- in the best traditions of Leftist denialism.  They no doubt thought of themselves as enemies of "discrimination".

And we can see how deeply entrenched the hypocrisy and dishonesty is when we reflect that feminists have a long history of opposing men's spaces.  For over a hundred years all Australian towns had a men's space -- the public bar of a local hotel.  Women were not allowed there.  There was a separate "Ladies' lounge" where women drank.

Feminists have completely destroyed that.  Women are now allowed in all bars, sometimes by force of law.  I remember the process  well. The big watering hole for UQ students was always "The Regatta", a large and imposing hotel on the way back into town from the university.  And it too once denied women admittance to its public bar.  So what did feminists do?  They barged in anyway and chained themselves to various objects to make it difficult to remove them. They did so until the rule excluding them was abandoned.

And the efforts of women to have the membership of various gentlemen's clubs "opened up" are well known. Most such clubs have succumbed.  That men might enjoy a place where they are free from women is not considered. But a place where women are free from men is just fine, righteous even.

So how does this ethical black hole arise?  It arises from the general lack of principles among Leftists.  Leftists are sub-clinical psychopaths.  In pursuit of their hates, Leftists can turn around and march in opposite directions at the drop of a hat. 

The classic example of that was the wharfies (dockers,  longshoremen) during WWII.  Nazism and Communism were always sibling rivals and outside Germany, dock workers were systematically Communist sympathizers.  Not a few were actual members of the local Communist party.  So when Hitler and Stalin jointly invaded the long-suffering Poles, dock workers did all they could to hinder the war effort against the Nazi/Soviet alliance.  But when Hitler turned on his ally and invaded Russia, the dock workers, particularly in America, suddenly ceased their obstruction of the war effort. It was their hate that guided them, not any high principle.  Stalin hated "the rich" and so did they -- so they were consistent only in supporting him.

But be that as it may, what is clearly going on among the radical feminists is an inability to empathize -- an ability to see everything only in the light of what they want.  They have no principles and no honour or ethics of any kind.  What they want defines righteous and nothing else matters.  They are moral imbeciles.  Their hate and anger is so strong that it blinds them to all else, even to basic decency and fairness.

Why do some women get that way?  In the universities these days they are taught that.  Barely articulate cries of feminist rage pass as education these days.  In the society at large, however, feminism can be a temporary refuge from a bad experiece -- a relationship breakup usually.  Such a refuge is usually abandoned after a time -- for a man.  Lifelong feminism however can result from some physical difference -- abnormal hormone levels usually -- but it is more likely to be a convenient way to express the woman's Leftism, her hatred of the society about her generally.

It is sick

Wedgetail aircraft declared fully ready -- at last

ONCE in danger of being branded a costly turkey, the RAAF's Wedgetail aircraft are now flying high.

AFTER more than 1200 hours directing Australian and coalition aircraft in strike missions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the six E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft have been declared fully operationally ready.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said Australia now had the most advanced air battle space management capability in the world.

But this didn't come easy.  A succession of technical problems with the aircraft's advanced radar raised concerns that the entire project could be cancelled.

US aerospace company Boeing was named as preferred tenderer for the $3.5 billion project in 1999, with the first two aircraft promised for late 2006. It was named Wedgetail after the high-flying all-seeing Australian native eagle.

But in mid-2006, defence revealed technical problems. The delay eventually exceeded four years, with the government enforcing contract provisions which required Boeing to deliver what it promised.

Problems weren't with the aircraft, the proven Boeing 737, but with the Northrop Grumman radar, able to watch out over 400 kilometres, directing fighters to any threat.

The government commissioned the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to assess radar performance and judge whether it could ever achieve desired capability. It concluded it could.

RAAF deputy chief Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Davies said Wedgetail now provided Australia with the ability to control and survey vast areas of operation.

"The aircraft's advanced multi-role radar gives the Air Force the ability to survey, command, control and co-ordinate a joint air, sea and land operations in real time," he said in a statement.


Thursday, May 28, 2015


For his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has just drawn TWO cartoons -- one about homosexual marriage in Ireland and another about returning Jihadis.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 'dismayed' at Australia's treatment of asylum seekers

To be criticized by Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein is an honour.  What does this Pharisee have to say about the human rights of women in Muslim countries?  Matthew 7:3-5 refers

The United Nations' top official on refugees has slammed Australia before an international audience, saying he is "dismayed" by the country's treatment of asylum seekers in detention in the context of the accelerating migration crisis in south-east Asia and Europe.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, told the Human Rights Council overnight in Geneva that he was "alarmed" by the current migration crises, calling on countries to put human rights first and to approach the issue "far more" comprehensively.

"The paramount concern of all actors must be the human rights of the people who have embarked on their desperate voyage out of fear and need," he said.

This year more than 1050 people have died at sea after fleeing from Myanmar and Bangladesh, while more than 1800 have died in the Mediterranean, Mr Hussein said.

"I am also dismayed that in Australia, people on boats intercepted at sea are sent to detention centres where conditions are inadequate," he said.

"In the first quarter of this year, 25,000 people have set out to sea from Myanmar and Bangladesh – some fleeing persecution in Myanmar, and others fleeing the poverty that besets both countries."

He said a "large proportion" of them were stateless and refugees in need of international protection and that people smugglers had violently abused and robbed many people who were attempting to leave their countries.

"As the special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar told the council in March, Rohingya people in [displacement] camps have told her that they had only two options: 'stay and die' or 'leave by boat'," he said.

Daniel Webb, director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said an urgent humanitarian crisis was unfolding and Australia should do more to help.

"A wealthy, developed and fundamentally decent nation like Australia should be part of the solution. Instead, we're being called out on the world stage as part of the problem," he said.

"While the UN is urging countries to respect international law and share responsibility, Australia is breaching international law in order to shift it."

This is not the first time Mr Hussein, who is a Jordanian prince, has criticised Australia for its treatment of asylum seekers.

In his maiden speech as Commissioner for the UNHCR in September, he said Australia's policy of offshore processing of asylum seekers and intercepting and turning back vessels was leading to a "chain of human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and possible torture following return to home countries".

Last week when asked whether Australia would offer resettlement to any of the thousands of migrants caught up in south-east Asia's refugee crisis, Prime Minister Tony Abbott replied "nope, nope, nope".

In March, after a UN report found that Australia was violating the rights of asylum seekers on multiple fronts, Mr Abbott said he was "sick of being lectured to by the United Nations".

"I really think Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations, particularly, particularly given that we have stopped the boats, and by stopping the boats, we have ended the deaths at sea," Mr Abbott said.

"The most humanitarian, the most decent, the most compassionate thing you can do is stop these boats because hundreds, we think about 1200 in fact, drowned at sea during the flourishing of the people-smuggling trade under the former government," he said.


Australia's dependence on China just went up a notch

New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that not only is China our most important trade partner, it’s also on the brink of becoming number one for investment as well.

It was back in 2007 that the value of two-way trade with China overtook Japan but, as of a couple years ago, Australia’s investment links with China had yet to budge.

In 2011 and 2012, two-way investment -- Chinese investment in Australia plus Australian investment in China -- rose by $13.5 billion. That was less than 10 per cent of the increase with the US, historically our most important source and destination of international investment.

But what a change 2013 and 2014 brought.

Earlier this month the ABS said that two-way investment with China leapt by $71.3bn. This was just a whisker under the $75.6bn recorded with the US and accounted for 30 per cent of the increase with all countries.

And get this -- it wasn’t just because China upped its investment in Australia. Nearly half (44 per cent) was due to a big jump in Australian investment in China.

In fact, last year Australian investment in China topped Chinese investment in Australia by more than 40 per cent. You don’t hear about this amid the shrill cries that China is buying the farm and the family home.

But with the continued opening of China’s domestic capital markets to foreign investors, official interest rates more than double ours and its stock market on a bull run, it’s not surprising that more and more Aussies are snapping up Chinese assets.

What does all this mean?

Fundamentally, it’s a good news story.

Treasurer Joe Hockey was right when he said in the recent Federal Budget that Australia would benefit from its major trading partners, led by China, growing at a faster rate than the global average. It’s better to have investment links with faster growing economies as well.

The catch is, that if Australia’s exposure to China wasn’t already sky high, it certainly is now. That makes the forecasts of Chinese growth found in the budget papers all the more crucial.

The Commonwealth Treasury sees China expanding at between 6 to 7 per cent for the next three years. While this is in line with what the IMF and World Bank are saying, some think it’s too rosy.

After all, real estate investment in the year to April was up just 6 per cent. That’s the slowest rate of growth since early 2009 when China was in the midst of a GFC slump. The growth in industrial production is at GFC lows too.

But this is looking for Chinese growth in the wrong place. Its economy has moved on: no longer does growth rely on making even more T-shirts and building more roads, now it’s about online retailing and peer-to-peer lending.

Last year, the secondary sector led by manufacturing and construction, contributed 43 per cent of China’s growth. Services delivered 52 per cent. And in the first quarter of this year, services were responsible for 55 per cent. The trend is clear.

China’s ‘new normal’ growth of between 6 and 7 per cent overall, means 8 per cent in the services sector. That pace hasn’t slowed over the past three years.

Earlier this week, HSBC said that its Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was stuck in contraction. But as far as crystal balls go, better to gaze into the services PMI.

Throughout 2015, that has not only been in expansion territory but steadily strengthening as well.

A lot has changed in China and in Australia’s economic relationship with China in recent years. But the big truth remains the same: we’re far better off being exposed to China than any other major economy.


More solar panel subsidies die

Waste of money in Spain, USA, Britain and Germany and now Australia.  Aussie solar panels suck money from the poor and hand it to the rich

The cost of climate-change-inspired subsidies to boost the installation of rooftop solar systems has forced consumers who don’t have solar panels (the poor people) to pay $14bn to the rich people who do, but the Aussies are coming to their senses.

With 1.4m households having solar panels, Australia has the highest proportion in the world of households with solar panels, but the ill-advised subsidies that allowed them, plus presumably their marketing, outweigh any good they do by $9 billion. Unbelievable.

A report on the electricity market by the Grattan Institute think tank reveals that solar feed-in tariffs, which over-pay owners of solar panels for the power they supply to the grid, have created “a policy mess”. Well, that’s hardly surprising, considering the subsidies were the only financial reason to instal the things.

Anyway, it wants pricing reforms. The electricity price does not increase at peak times, so consumers who don’t have solar panels subsidise those who do, even though solar owners place the same strain on the distribution network. That’s because peak use of power usually occurs in the early evening when (surprise) the sun goes down.

While solar panels have cut emissions they have proved very costly—the equivalent of a carbon price of $170 a tonne. Emissions could have been reduced more cheaply and fairly. The Australian carbon price right now sits at $13.95 a tonne. The electricity regulator will require those with solar panels to pay more than before, so the installation of new solar panels in most capital cities will no longer be profitable.

Climate sceptics have been asking about discrepancies in the economics of solar panels for years. We still have questions about their carbon footprint, but they become moot as solar panels are killed off by economics.

Solar panels are fine in deserts, coral atolls and yachts, but they’ll never securely run a household or a steel mill—especially at night.


Gas exploration licence extension not ruled out by NSW Premier after court overturned suspension

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has not rule out extending Metgasco's drilling licence in the state's north, after a court overturned the State Government's attempt to suspend it.

In April, the Supreme Court lifted the suspension of the gas company's licence to drill a test well at its Rosella site near Bentley.

The suspension was imposed a year ago amid allegations of inadequate community consultation.  But the court found the Government had acted improperly, overturning the decision and awarding costs to Metgasco.

The Government has now confirmed it will not appeal against the court ruling, but Metgasco has pushed for an out-of-court compensation settlement and a possible four-year licence extension.

It also wants police protection at the drilling site at Bentley, which has previously been hindered by months of protests and blockades.

Mr Baird said the Government is in talks with Metgasco, but will not confirm what options are on the table.  "I'm not going to rule anything in or out now," Mr Baird said.  "What I will be saying is we are happy to negotiate directly with them.  "We have a buyback scheme that sits there across the state at the moment and we are talking to all players about that."

Metgasco's managing director, Peter Henderson, said the Government's decision not to appeal came as no surprise. "We had a very strong court position," he said.

"Had the Government appealed the decision, it would have sent a terrible message to industry in New South Wales and would also have wasted public funds.  "We were confident that had it been taken to appeal, we would have won again."


Public servants banned from wearing ugg boots, onesies

Ever thought about wearing ugg boots to work? How about a onesie?

If you work at the Immigration Department, your time has run out.  The department has a new dress code and comfort dressing is out.

"There are certain things that wouldn't constitute professional business dress and that would be things like jeans, thongs, ugg boots and so on," the department's Jan Dorrington told a Senate committee.

"I couldn't imagine that many people would be rocking up to work in ugg boots," asked Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

"Ah, you'd be surprised, Senator," Ms Dorrington replied. Her boss, department secretary Mike Pezzullo, quickly agreed, revealing how he came to learn about the onesie.

"At one point Ms Dorrington came to me with a number of matters that had arisen and I was asked to, if you like, rule or make a determination around something called the wearing of onesies," he said.  "I didn't even know what a onesie was and I was shown pictures of such garb."

Queensland Liberal Senator Ian MacDonald was keen for Mr Pezzullo to share his newfound knowledge.  "Tell me what it is so we all know," the senator said.

"Ah, I had to put it out of my head very quickly, Senator," Mr Pezzullo replied. "I guess in the old days you would have called it a boiler suit of some description."

So far no-one has been disciplined under the new rules. Mr Pezzullo said he did not think they were "draconian" but rather about "basic professionalism".

For the record, the Macquarie Dictionary describes a onesie as: "A loose-fitting one-piece suit, usually of a stretch fabric, gathered at the wrists and ankles and loose at the crotch." [i.e. an adult baby suit]


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

CSIRO is censoring its own scientists

And they lie to cover up the censorship

Patrick Moore

During my tour of Australian capitals last year, speaking about climate change, I was always eager to share a bright spot of news about the world’s driest places.

Your very own CSIRO, in collaboration with the Australian National University, had published a study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in 2013 that deserved wide acclaim. Very few people in my audiences were aware of it, despite the fact the CSIRO had published a synopsis of the paper on its own website titled “Deserts ‘greening’ from rising CO2”.

The paper reported on the work of Randall Donohue of the Land and Water division of the CSIRO and his colleagues who had conducted an 18year study of global vegetation from satellite observations. They determined that from 1982 to 2010 the fertilisation effect from increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere had resulted in an 11 per cent increase in foliage in arid regions across the globe.

This includes large areas of Western Australia, subSaharan Africa, India and the Great Plains of North America. You would think with all the talk of drought and climate crisis this would have made the front page of every newspaper in Australia, and the world for that matter. But no, it appears to be a case of inconvenient truth.

So inconvenient that when the CSIRO revamped its website a few weeks ago it decided to delete the page on the greening deserts in Australia and around the world. I reported this omission to my friend and colleague Paul Evans, of Sydney, who runs communications for the Galileo Movement, the group that helped organise my tour of Australia last October.

He made an inquiry of the CSIRO and received this reply: “Dear Paul, You may be wondering why we changed our website ... The web page “Deserts greening from rising CO2” was published in 2013, and our new website is focused on our current research and services, not on past research and outcomes.”

Does this not beg the definition of current? So 2013 is now ancient history, sort of like alchemy and astrology from the 15th century? And it’s not as if the “greening” has ended. It continues apace and will accelerate as CO2 levels finally rise from near plant starvation levels before the Industrial Revolution to levels that provide a decent meal for our best friends, the photosynthetic plants we depend on for our existence.

This research is critical to our understanding of the actual effect of increased CO2 as opposed to the hypothetical effect.

One could assume from CSIRO’s reply that all references to science done before 2013 have now been purged from the superuptodate CSIRO website. But a quick look tells us otherwise. All you need do is go to the CSIRO page that contains the 2014 report State of the Climate. There you will find that, of the 146 science papers listed to support the concern for changes in the climate, none of them are more recent than 2013 and nearly all of them are older.

The climate report is complete with the usual “homogenised” temperature records and warnings about ocean acidification.

Clearly a double standard has been applied and clearly the CSIRO is effectively censoring its own scientists for daring to find a positive result from increased CO2.

The Australian public, and in particular its science institutions, should demand that this study be reinstated on the CSIRO website with a link from the home page. It is a brilliant piece of work and demonstrates that CO2 is food for plants and that our agriculture and forestry will benefit greatly from increased levels in the air.

During the first 15 years of this century, ever-increasing emissions of CO2 have not produced any statistically significant warming, while they have accelerated the growth of plants, especially in arid regions. The reason higher CO2 is resulting in increased plant growth is because during the past millions of years it had steadily declined to levels too low for plants to realise their full potential.

Higher levels of CO2 have been the norm throughout the history of life. It has been only during recent times (the past few million years) that CO2 had sunk to such low levels that it slowed the growth of plants significantly. Then humans began to put some of it back where it came from in the first place.

People don’t stop to think that the fossil fuels we are burning today are made from plants and plankton that took CO2 from the atmosphere as food for themselves, using solar energy to convert the CO2into sugars. Fossil fuels are 100 per cent organic, were made with solar power, and the byproduct of burning them is food for plants.

The CSIRO’s reply refers to the study of CO2’s fertiliser effect as “past research and outcomes”. Does this mean it has not only deleted the study from its website but also have discontinued this important work? One fears this to be true.

Australians should not only demand that the study be fully reinstated on the website but that the CSIRO be instructed to put it back on its agenda, perhaps this time with a strong focus on how CO2 is benefiting Australian forests and farming.

It’s time to stop demonising CO2 and to recognise it as the giver of life that it is.

The Australian of May 23rd.

Compulsory maths and science? You’ve got to be joking Christopher Pyne

Jenna Martin

THE news that Christopher Pyne is pushing to make maths and science compulsory for students in senior years has enraged me. It has infuriated me. It has made me exasperated, incensed and irate. Words I use with flourish because I’m a student of English. Not maths.

But let me be clear, this is not about Maths vs. English. This is about the right to not be EXTRA miserable in the most painful, boring two years of your young life: years 11 and 12.

When I was 7 my teacher- a boorish, balding man with a permanently blank expression, sat my parents down and told them, plain and simple, I wasn’t good at maths. This isn’t so shocking in itself. What is more shocking is the fact that he followed this up with the statement, “It’s not her thing, so she really shouldn’t worry about it.”

I remember I was mortified. I was a nerd and a shameless teachers pet: there was something I wasn’t good at?!

The fact is that while it probably wasn’t PC to tell a kid she was crap at something and shouldn’t bother trying, the truth is, he was kind of right. I know the counter argument: kids are blanks slates. Their brains are just vats, waiting, desperate to be filled, opened and inspired. They can learn anything, right?


You see, the fact is, I did try. I was determined to prove that teacher wrong. I was sure I could handle complicated equations and solve quantum physics … if only I knew what quantum physics actually were.

I tried harder at maths than almost anything in my life. But despite all my efforts, and all my extra hours of studying, I felt like a failure. I’d been losing sleep trying to study and worse than that, my other, better subjects were suffering.

The fact is, despite my determination to rally against my year 3 teacher, I just didn’t have a maths brain. I didn’t have a science brain either. I still don’t.

I put up with isosceles triangles and the periodic table for far too long. Every class was a struggle, every exam was a stress. I hated those lessons. Once I missed a maths test because I was throwing up with panic in the toilet. I hated how, even with great teachers, my useless, ineffectual maths brain made me feel tiny and stupid.

In the meantime, in every other area, I thrived. I escaped in Shakespeare and Jane Austen. I topped the class in modern history. I represented the school in a public speaking competition. When it came time to make my decisions for year 11 and 12, there was no question: Goodbye science. Goodbye maths.

That was 15 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I may not have known at the age of 16 exactly what I was going to do with my life … but I knew I wasn’t going to work for the CSIRO. Or get into aeronautical engineering. Or even become an accountant.

I can accept studying maths up until Year 10 (despite never in my adult life needing to know anything mathematical I couldn’t do with a calculator), but when it comes time to pick the subjects that are going to dictate your results and your university opportunities, it’s downright cruel to force students not to play to their strengths.

The government has suggested that up to 75% of the fastest growing jobs involve science, technology, engineering or maths, so called “STEM” skills. This may be true. But the fact is, forcing people to study these subjects against their natural ability will take time away from pursuing their strengths. And getting into most of those industries involves a tertiary qualification anyway: high school maths ain’t gonna cut it.

I was a bright student, but I certainly wasn’t an all-rounder. In my HSC I did nothing but humanities and my marks were high enough for law school. If I’d have been forced to study maths? No chance of that.

(I should also note that three of my friends also nixed the sciences. All of them got 99+ for the HSC and one now holds a job in Mr Pyne’s own government.)

High school is awful for most people. Teenagers already have to deal with hideous pimples and sexual frustration. They also have to figure out who the hell they are and what they can contribute to the world. Schools should be striving to help kids discover exactly what this is. Whether it’s English, history, sports, languages, the arts OR, indeed, maths and science. None should be prioritised over the other.

Try everything, sure. But if at once you try and don’t succeed- especially if you hate it- don’t try harder, do something else you like better. Something that inspires you. Or at the very least, something that doesn’t make you throw up.


Creeping fairness a blow to Labor’s class warriors

There was more disappointing news for the hand-wringing industry last week when an OECD report found Australia to be a remarkably fair place.

The poor are getting richer and the rich are getting poorer while those in the middle are doing very nicely, thank you.

“Between 2007 and 2011, the income of the bottom 10 per cent increased by 2 per cent while incomes at the top declined by 1 per cent,” the OECD found.

“This pattern is very different from most OECD countries, where the bottom 10 per cent fared worst during the same period.”

Median net wealth in Australia has increased at a faster rate than wealth in the upper percentiles, leading the OECD to conclude “inequality at the top of the wealth distribution has receded”.

What will become of the unsold copies of Labor’s assistant Treasury spokesman Andrew Leigh’s book Battlers and Billionaires now its thesis has been knocked firmly on the head?

Leigh makes it plain on the back cover: rising inequality “risks cleaving us into two Australias, occupying fundamentally different worlds”.

Oh dear. Will Leigh’s publishers be forced to pulp the remaining stock? Or will Battlers and Billionaires, like Wayne Swan’s Postcode, gain cult status as an item of class-war kitsch to be put on ironic display alongside 1950s pulp science fiction? Yes children, they really did believe that one day cars would fly.

Leigh made a spirited attempt to tap the global market for have-and-have-not literature that the global financial crisis spawned: Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson’s The Spirit Level , Joseph Stig­litz’s The Price of Inequality and Thomas Piketty’s gloomy tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century, to name but three.

Translating this North Atlantic-centric thesis into Australian proved to be a difficult task, however. As DH Lawrence noted in his novel Kangaroo, Australians are allowed to be better off than their neighbours; they’re just not allowed to be better. “And there is all the difference in the world between feeling better than your fellow man and merely feeling better-off,” Lawrence wrote.

Leigh did his best, but by page 99 he was flagging. “The more I looked at the data, the less certain I became that inequality was an unmitigated evil … inequality appears to be good for growth and to have no substantial effects on crime.” Presumably it was too late to turn back. Leigh had signed Morry Schwartz’s contract, the vol-au-vent and chardonnay had been ordered for the launch and Leigh had no choice but to limp on for another 50 pages. And there it should have rested, but by that stage the Labor Party was running low on ideas, so Bill Shorten picked up the fairness theme and ran with it.

Labor is “the party of prosperity — and the party of fairness”, Shorten told the National Policy Forum in March last year. The party’s mission is “to help those struck down by the shafts of fate … to lift people up, and gather them in”.

Call it, if you will, the Hanna-Barbera cartoons approach to character development: Tom v Jerry, Yogi Bear v Ranger Smith and Shorten v Tony Abbott, the cackling villain with his dastardly plan to turn Australia into “a colder, meaner, narrower place”.

For a while it seemed to work, helped along by Joe Hockey’s ambitious first budget, which despite — or perhaps because of — its ser­ious intent was too easily portrayed as unfair.

It was clear long before the Treasurer’s second budget, however, that the Opposition Leader needed another tune. When he was invited to discuss his reply to the budget with the ABC’s Leigh Sales, it was surprising he was not better prepared. Hadn’t he seen Hockey’s hammering earlier in the week that left the studio looking like a Vietnamese abattoir?

Sales: “Less than two years ago, Australians voted to get rid of the Labor government that they didn’t like. Leaving aside leadership instability, what will be your point of difference to the Rudd-Gillard government?”

Shorten: “Well, first of all, what I’m interested in is my point of difference to Tony Abbott.’’

Sales: “But Australians need to know that when they vote for you they’re not voting for a return to the Rudd-Gillard era that they didn’t like.”

Shorten: “Well, we’re a far more united team.”

To which Sales could have replied by repeating her first question, but mindful perhaps that the kiddies might not yet be in bed, she decided to move on.

Nick Dyrenfurth, one of the more astute Labor thinkers, went to the heart of Shorten’s problem last week in an article in The Monthly.

“A motto of ‘Australia will be fairer’ cannot suffice,” Dyrenfurth writes. “Fairness cannot of itself fix the structural budget deficit, develop a consensual pro-worker, pro-business economy where people actually make things and hold down stable, well-paid jobs, or address issues as diverse as an ageing population, terrorism and climate change.

“It is not alarmist to think that Labor is sleepwalking to electoral disaster … Labor’s avoidance of debt-and-deficit politics is the highest of high-risk strategies.”

Many who believe ideas still matter in politics, such as The Australian’s Paul Kelly, were encouraged by Labor’s Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen’s National Press Club speech last week. Bowen’s own book, Hearts & Minds, grapples with the issues a progress-driven party — as opposed to a progressively driven party — must confront.

Unfortunately, as Henry Ergas pointed out on these pages yesterday, Bowen’s plan to turn the next election into a referendum on superannuation concessions is based on flawed economic assumptions, albeit assumptions made by Treasury. It is also flawed politics, relying on false arguments about fairness to conduct a covert expedition in class war.

Nevertheless Bowen, like Dyren­furth, must be having kittens about the agenda for the party’s national conference in July: gay marriage, asylum-seekers, Pales­tine and party reform. “This is scarcely the message it should send swinging voters,” Dyrenfurth writes.

Fortunately some in the party are still prepared to argue the politics of common sense. It is not entirely clear, however, who — if anyone — is listening.


Islamic State: Australia open to possibility of deploying more forces after Ramadi, Palmyra losses

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has left open the possibility of sending more troops to Iraq, after the US defence secretary accused local forces of lacking the will to fight the Islamic State (IS) group.

IS fighters have appeared on the back foot in Iraq in recent months, but twin offensives on Ramadi and on the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra have swung the momentum.

The loss of Ramadi, capital of Iraq's largest province of Anbar, raised questions over the strategy adopted not only by Baghdad, but also by Washington to tackle IS.

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter told CNN that Baghdad's worst military defeat in almost a year could have been avoided. "What apparently happened was the Iraqi forces showed no will to fight," he said.  "They were not outnumbered, and they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and they failed to fight and withdrew from the site."

Australia currently has about 600 personnel involved in the fight against the IS group as part of "Operation Okra", as well as 300 soldiers attached to Task Group Taji which is helping to train Iraqi forces.  "The serious setback in Ramadi just emphasises how challenging the task is and how necessary the task is," Mr Abbott said.

"The final point I should make is that the one Iraqi security force element that most stuck to its post and withdrew from Ramadi as a formed unit, as opposed to a disorganised group, was the unit, the counter-terrorism service of the Iraqi security forces that we have been advising and assisting in our initial placement at Baghdad International Airport," he told reporters in Canberra.

But Mr Abbott did not rule out Australia bolstering its contribution if the US chose to increase its military commitment.

"The United States is obviously the leading Western country," Mr Abbott said.  "We don't expect the United States to do what needs to be done in the defence of decency right around the world on its own and that's why Australia has been more than ready to be an utterly reliable partner to the United States.

"I think in this, as in so many things, the world does look to the United States for leadership.  "As always, we stand ready to work with our partners and allies, the United States, the Iraqis, our other international and regional partners, to do what we can to help.  "It's quite a substantial contribution that we are already making."


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Qld. Chief Justice Tim Carmody: I’ll quit to ‘stop the bleeding’

His fellow judges thought he had jumped the queue in becoming CJ.  Judges tend to be very status and seniority conscious

The Chief Justice of Queensland, Tim Carmody, is poised to quit in what he describes as a bid to “stop the bleeding” and end extra­ordinary tensions unleashed at the judiciary’s highest levels.

In an exclusive interview with The Australian, Chief Justice Carmody yesterday revealed his intention to resign from a job he started just 10 months ago, saying the in-fighting and dysfunction had become untenable, with no ­realistic prospect of improvement.

However, he wants the four-month-old Labor government led by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to agree on a new reform agenda for the courts, including the establishment of a judicial commission, that would follow his departure.

As he would be giving up a ­career, salary and benefits worth almost $500,000 a year three years before becoming eligible for a generous judicial pension, “fairness and just terms” would also need to be agreed in a bipartisan way with the government and the opposition.

Chief Justice Carmody revealed he had told the Attorney-General, Yvette D’Ath, in the middle of last month of his preparedness to resign to ensure the judiciary’s reputation would not be further trashed by the ongoing and unprecedented row with fellow judges.

He said he was still waiting to learn what steps, if any, were being contemplated by the government to resolve a crisis that has seen judges warring publicly — and one secretly recording a heated private conversation with him in his chambers.

“I want to find a solution and I want others to help find it,’’ he told The Australian in a candid interview at his inner-Brisbane home yesterday.

“Because this is not just about me, it’s about the court. It’s about the system. It needs a considered response from all sides that have the best interests of this important social institution in mind. I have one senior judge who won’t sit with me on any cases. I have another senior judge who secretly records a conversation with me. “That makes governance and my ability to do my job impossible.

“I have to balance what gives the most net gain to the people of Queensland — me staying, or me going. My view is that I will leave if there is that net gain and that’s how it looks to me at the moment.

“If I know that the reforms that need to be done will be done, then I will leave on just terms. There are reforms and changes that need to be made that I can’t make by staying.

“It upsets me so much that we have reached this low point — that the court is at such a point that it can even happen, and that it is not tenable for me to continue as Chief Justice in the circumstances.

“It also shows that the reason I went there, the changes I wanted to make which are overdue, can’t be done. I can’t do what I set out to do.

“It is an opportunity lost because of the behaviour of others. But bad behaviour can’t be rewarded.”

The decision of Chief Justice Carmody to flag an exit strategy will be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of the judges on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, most of whom have ­signalled their lack of confidence in him.

It is also likely to be welcomed by the new Labor government after it had inherited the Chief ­Justice, a highly controversial ­appointment by the then Liberal National Party premier Campbell Newman last year. Strong critic­isms of the appointment by former and serving judges, and leading legal figures including former solicitor-general Walter Sofronoff QC and the former anti-corruption inquiry chief Tony Fitzgerald QC, have not abated.

Many of the judges and legal figures who have questioned Chief Justice Carmody’s credentials have also privately, and publicly, depicted him as a political stooge for the LNP. They have pointed to some of his comments and ­actions to support the proposition.

A senior trial judge, John Byrne, secretly used his smartphone earlier this year to record a private, heated and expletive-laden conversation in which the Chief Justice accused some of the judges of being like “scum” for undermining him, and for the hurt caused to his wife and family.

Justice Byrne was recording the conversation because he was concerned about the prospect of a possible inappropriate interference by the Chief Justice in a case on a disputed election result which, if the case had proceeded, could have led to the LNP being in a position to form a government for its second term despite the January poll result.

Chief Justice Carmody rejected as fanciful and ludicrous the suggestion he has been a political stooge or would do anything to compromise justice. “Make no mistake: their purpose from the beginning has been to oust me from this position,” he said­. “In their minds, I didn’t deserve it, should never have been offered it, should not have taken it and should not have dared to think I was capable of discharging the obligations of high office.

“I have no doubt that seeing the back of me has been the ­single-minded objective of a hard core of judges and others from outside the court with simil­ar views and goals.

“Well, they might end up achieving that but the cost of that triumph will be a lost opportunity for the people of Queensland and the legal system.

“If I thought the judges would get in behind me and support me instead of undermining me, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but they are not going to do that.

“The people of Queensland are the losers here. They deserve a court that engages with them, that they respect and trust and that is accountable for what is done, not only through the judgments they write but through their conduct and how they treat other human beings.”

Chief Justice Carmody warned that the fight over his position set a “precedent that if judges whinge and whine long enough and loud enough and damage the very thing they are there to look after, they can achieve the goal, which in this case was ousting me”.

“That is the thing that concerns me, that the will of the executive and, through the executive, the will of the people, can be effectively sabotaged by other interest group. My going would be an historical artefact but nobody who has had a hand in my going should be rewarded for their bad behaviour.”

His wife, Acting Magistrate Robyn Carmody, said: “I support Tim’s decision to offer to resign to break this impasse. He is an honourable, decent man with a proven track record in reform. As a family, we pay a heavy price for lending him to public service. We will always support him.”

‘A significant gesture’

Queensland’s Attorney-General has welcomed the Chief Justice’s offer to resign, describing it as a “significant gesture,” writes Sarah Elks.

Yvette D’Ath confirmed she had a meeting with embattled Chief Justice Tim Carmody weeks ago, in which he offered to quit the state’s top judicial position if reforms were introduced, including a judicial commission.

Ms D’Ath told ABC Radio in Brisbane this morning that she welcomed Justice Carmody’s move.

“I consider that a significant gesture to put the court’s interest before himself,” she said.

Ms D’Ath has no legal power to make Chief Justice Carmody resign, until he reaches the retirement age of 70. She said she would consult on the concept of a “judicial commission”, which New South Wales already has, but said she could not change pension arrangements for Justice Carmody.

Any offer of an early pension would be an “inducement” she said, and a criminal offence.

Shadow Attorney-General Ian Walker, a solicitor before entering parliament, said the decision was “distressing” but “gracious”.

“The CJ has made a gracious and generous offer to move in a certain direction to resolve the matter...that’s something we should be appreciative of him for,” Mr Walker told ABC Radio, adding it was a concern the situation had come to that.

Mr Walker said it was now up to the government to work out whether Justice Carmody’s offer could be accepted.


NSW government to pull pin on ads in Leftist paper

Hot on the heels of Qantas dumping Fairfax newspapers from its lounges, planes and gates, the Libs are preparing to pull their advertising spend from The Sydney Morning Herald.

The NSW government spends close to $2 million a year on recruitment advertising and The Herald has historically carried the lion’s share of the state government’s job advertisements.

Senior Liberals have discussed with NSW Finance Minister ­Dominic Perrottet removing the ad spend from the SMH.

It is understood Perrottet is open to the suggestion and is examining alternatives such as more digital advertising or a forum that is accessible to all taxpayers. He has ruled out advertising on the Services NSW website.

The official reason for the ­potential move is to find a more cost-effective and efficient way of advertising public service positions to ensure they’re accessible to all of the public, not only the Herald’s readers.

But Fairfax Media’s prominent coverage of ICAC’s public shaming of Liberal MPs and their staff would not have helped.

It is reminiscent of changes made by federal Labor to remove print as an essential component of government advertising campaigns. This was interpreted by some as punishment for News Corp’s critical coverage of the Gillard and Rudd governments and prominent campaigns on their stimulus package rollout.


Fake couples who marry for a visa and claim single welfare benefits will be stripped of entitlements

FAKE couples who have orchestrated “contrived marriages” to gain Aussie visas and then claim separate welfare cheques will be stripped of entitlements as part of a nationwide crackdown to be announced by the Federal Government today.

Thousands of people have potentially declared sponsorship of a partner for immigration purposes but are then claiming single welfare payments because they are not together.

The Daily Telegraph has learned taxpayers were milked $132.7 million last year in welfare payments that were fraudulent.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Human Services Minister Marise Payne will today announce a new data matching system which will find couples who claim to be either married or in a de facto relationship but are providing separate departments with different information.

Legitimate couples, who are happily married, but claim to have split so they can earn more money from separate payments will also be targeted.

Australia’s welfare bill is expected to balloon by close to $40 billion over the forward estimates, from $150 billion to almost $190 billion.

Mr Dutton confirmed “contrived marriages” were on the rise. “Last year, my department identified an increase in the number of allegations relating to the facilitating of contrived marriages,” he said.

“This data-matching program is part of a whole-of-government approach to fraud detection and prevention. People who deliberately take advantage of Australia’s welfare and migration system will be caught.’’

Those found to have defrauded the system face losing their visa, being forced to pay back the money and criminal charges.

Mr Dutton said visas obtained through fraudulent relationships cost taxpayers significant amounts of money and blocked genuine people from being granted a spot in Australia.

Senator Payne said some legitimate couples had worked out they are financially better off to pretend they have split, yet remain a couple.

“The Government is committed to protecting taxpayers’ money and the integrity of Australia’s social security system by ensuring people receive the right payment at the right time.’’

The announcement comes after the government yesterday confirmed yesterday a senior Australian Federal Police officer will be hired to head a crack welfare taskforce to identify fraud.

Last year the government cracked down on the $16 billion Disability Support Pension rort, ordering new applicants to see a Commonwealth appointed doctor to determine if they were eligible for the welfare.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government was committed to cracking down on welfare cheats.

Eight out of 10 Australian taxpayers are needed just to cover the national welfare bill. The partner visa data-matching program will begin next month and initially run for a year.


Jeep complaints now under official investigation

CONSUMER cops are investigating whether the maker of Jeep has misled car owners about their rights to refunds or replacements.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been gathering evidence from angry customers, including Ashton Wood, who raised $19,000 in a Kickstarter campaign to destroy his faulty vehicle after attempting — unsuccessfully — to use “guarantees” enshrined in law to push for a refund or replacement. The ACCC in now grilling dealers.

Jeep’s parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is aware of the probe, which is understood to also cover Fiats. No other carmaker is under investigation.

If the ACCC believes FCA customers have been misled, it could ask the Federal Court to impose multimillion-dollar fines, as well as other sanctions.

But for FCA the even-more-significant consequence of an adverse finding would be its effect on what have been rapidly growing sales. Australians spent about $1.5 billion on new Jeeps alone last year, up 37 per cent on 2013.

An ACCC spokeswoman told News Corp Australia the focus “of our inquiries is to determine whether claims are being handled consistently with the consumer guarantee provisions and ensuring consumers are not being misled about their rights”.

The spokeswoman said the ACCC could not name the carmaker under investigation, but she did say there was only one.

News Corp Australia has spoken to four FCA car-brand owners who have been interviewed by the ACCC as part of its probe.  Furthermore, FCA has confirmed it is the subject of the ACCC investigation.

A spokesman told News Corp Australia that “FCA Australia President and CEO, Patrick Dougherty, has referenced his significant global experience in aftersales and customer care in personally addressing any potential issues in the Australian business, increasing resources, improving logistics, and streamlining our process of working with dealers.”

“We are encouraged by the positive response from our dealers around the country and the huge majority of owners who tell us that the investment we have made, and are making, in boosting our customer service is paying off.

“We will continue to work with all of our customers to ensure they are happy in their vehicles. We are unable to comment on the actions of the ACCC.”

Federal laws that took effect in 2011 provide consumers with guarantees that new vehicles are of “acceptable quality” — meaning they must be safe, durable and free of defects — and fit for any purpose the customer or supplier has specified. They must also match their description.

If there is a “major” failure to meet any of these guarantees, a customer is entitled to choose between a refund, replacement or compensation. The Federal Government has told the motor industry a major failure is when “a reasonable consumer would not have bought the motor vehicle if they had known about the full extent of the problem. For example, no reasonable consumer would buy a new car with so many recurring faults that the car has spent more time off the road than on it because several mechanics have been unable to solve the problem”.

Being unsafe is considered another major failure.

Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Gerard Brody — who believes Australia needs a so-called “lemon law”, as exists in California — said: “This issue demonstrates that the consumer guarantee regime works when businesses are amenable to providing repairs, refunds or replacements, but if they are not it can be challenging if not impossible for consumers to assert their rights”.

FCA sells about 50,000 cars a year in Australia. Jeep is its most popular brand, with sales of more than 30,000 in 2014. Jeep’s flagship is the Grand Cherokee, which is the nation’s most popular large SUV, bought by nearly 17,000 families last year alone.


25 May, 2015

Another ALP in­fight as union heavy ques­tions Qld. re­cruit­ment pol­icy

A FOR­MER top union boss and suc­cess­ful state La­bor trea­surer has called for less union in­flu­ence in the party, say­ing the move­ment has a skewed hold over the party.  Ex-NSW trea­surer Michael Costa said La­bor was now dogged by “a ger­ry­man­der in favour of the unions”.

The La­bor stal­wart made the com­ments as Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk and her Cabi­net col­leagues yes­ter­day in­sisted their move to re­quire pub­lic ser­vants to re­cruit new union mem­bers was noth­ing new.

The La­bor stal­wart made the com­ments as Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk and her Cabi­net col­leagues yes­ter­day in­sisted their move to re­quire pub­lic ser­vants to re­cruit new union mem­bers was noth­ing new.

The qui­etly re­in­stated “union en­cour­age­ment pol­icy”, re­vealed yes­ter­day in The Courier-Mail, was blasted by Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott as “de­liv­er­ing for the unions”.

“I’m al­ways dis­ap­pointed when any gov­ern­ment gov­erns for one sec­tion of the com­mu­nity rather than ev­ery­one and this is a gov­ern­ment here in Queens­land which was elected on union money and on union cam­paign­ing,” he said.

Mr Costa said there should be a level play­ing field within the work­force, adding that his com­ments were rel­e­vant across the board and not just to Queens­land.

“Govern­ments shouldn’t ac­tively dis­cour­age union­ism, but they shouldn’t ac­tively en­cour­age it ei­ther,” he said. “There needs to be a re­duc­tion of union in­flu­ence in the La­bor Party.”

The Courier-Mail can re­veal union bosses played a role in push­ing for the pol­icy, which will boost mem­ber­ship. It comes at a time its num­bers within the pub­lic ser­vice are flag­ging.

It also comes just weeks af­ter The Courier-Mail re­vealed key union bosses were boast­ing about the in­flu­ence they now wield within the new Govern­ment.

The an­nual re­port for the To­gether Union, one of the big­gest pub­lic sec­tor unions, shows its mem­ber­ship num­bers have fallen to about 28,000 peo­ple, from more than 38,000 in 2012, its low­est level since 2006.

To­gether Union sec­re­tary Alex Scott ad­mit­ted to the union play­ing a role in dis­cus­sions around the union en­cour­age­ment pol­icy.  “We asked them to con­sider reis­su­ing the de­part­ment pol­icy to make it sim­pler as well,” he said.  “We ar­gued it was a le­gal en­ti­tle­ment ... it’s help­ful to have it as part of the de­part­ment pol­icy.”

But Mr Scott said it re­flected a clause within ex­ist­ing en­ter­prise bar­gain­ing agree­ments, which New­man gov­ern­ment laws had made un­en­force­able.

Shadow At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Ian Walker said the pol­icy saw bal­ance tip in favour of unions.  “There is a role for unions but it shouldn’t get to the point where the Govern­ment … be­comes their de facto re­cruit­ment agency,” he said.

Queens­land Coun­cil of Unions boss John Bat­tams said his or­gan­i­sa­tion played no role post-elec­tion in ne­go­ti­at­ing for or dis­cussing the pol­icy, but had raised it be­fore­hand.  “The role we played was to get the com­mit­ment be­fore the elec­tion. We just ex­pected it to hap­pen and it did,” he said.  “A Govern­ment keep­ing com­mit­ments shouldn’t be coloured as pay­back.”

He said there were more than 100,000 pub­lic sec­tor work­ers who were union mem­bers.

Depart­ment of Premier and Cabi­net di­rec­tor-gen­eral Dave Ste­wart has been charged with en­sur­ing all other di­rec­tors-gen­eral put the pol­icy into ef­fect.

Ms Palaszczuk said the pol­icy had been in place for a decade be­fore for­mer pre­mier Camp­bell New­man.


A dramatic testimony to the wreckage of the Australian economy by the Rudd/Gillard regime

While Rudd and Gillard were running up half a trillion in debt, and getting nothing for it, John Key was governing N.Z. prudently

Australia's warmer climate and higher wages have long lured droves of New Zealanders across the Tasman Sea with the aim of making a better life in the 'lucky country'.

But with Australia's economy stumbling and New Zealand's improving, the trend has begun to reverse.

New Zealand figures released Thursday showed that in April, for the first time in 24 years, 100 more people moved east from Australia to New Zealand than moved in the opposite direction.

The trend has been emerging for some time. Two years ago, a net 34,000 New Zealanders moved to Australia. That fell to 11,000 last year and to 1,900 in the most recent data for this year.

An agreement between Australia and New Zealand allows citizens of both nations to live and work in either country.

In New Zealand, the loss of its people over decades to its larger neighbor has proved a political sore point.

In 2008, when the current prime minister John Key was the leader of the political opposition, he stood in an empty sports stadium in Wellington to illustrate the thousands of people who were leaving each year and vowed to turn that around.

Robert Muldoon, who was prime minister in the 1970s and '80s, once quipped that the exodus raised the average IQ of both countries.

But now, the turnaround may pose new political challenges. The figures released Thursday show record annual immigration of 57,000 people to New Zealand, which added more than 1 percent to the population of 4.5 million. Many people believe immigration is helping fuel skyrocketing home prices in the largest city, Auckland.

Australia's economy has been struggling after the price of iron ore, its most lucrative export, slumped due to a slowdown in China's economy. Still, Australia's debt level remains low compared with most countries and its standard of living higher than in New Zealand.

New Zealand has been enjoying relatively strong economic growth, and its unemployment rate has dropped to 5.8 percent, below Australia's rate of 6.2 percent. But it, too, faces economic challenges, including lower prices for its agricultural exports due to the slowdown in China.


Australian food companies feed investor returns

Buttressed by demand from the emerging economies to the nation's north, Australia's $50 billion agribusiness sector is burgeoning. But the paradox for the sector is that it struggles to attract capital from Australia's super funds.

A recent survey of 114 superannuation funds, commissioned by accounting group BDO and conducted by the University of Queensland Business School's commercial arm UniQuest, found that Australia's super funds invest on average just 0.3 per cent of their assets in the agriculture sector.

In contrast, overseas pension funds are "very keen" on Australian agribusiness assets, says Tim Biggs, founding partner and chief investment officer at agribusiness investment firm Laguna Bay Pastoral Company. "We find that the North American pension funds really 'get' the Australian agribusiness investment opportunity.

"Australia's real natural advantage is that it produces some of the highest-quality agricultural products in the world, both bulk and niche, with an impeccable record of safety and traceability, it is on the doorstep of the emerging consumers in Asia who want traceable, repetitively deliverable high-quality product, and it has excellent logistics to export that produce," Biggs says.

US-based pension funds are even more conscious, says Biggs, of the institutional investor's holy grail: authentic uncorrelated returns. "Agricultural investments are generally negatively correlated to financial investments, stocks and bonds. They have different return streams, and thus can diversify an investment portfolio more widely."

US investors also have concerns about the drought in California, he says. "Ninety per cent of the world's almonds come from the San Joaquin Valley in California. That has always given the Australian producers a classic counter-seasonal export opportunity, but now in the US, they're thinking, 'What if we don't have the water to feed our crops?'" If the water situation in California gets worse, investors will be looking at Australia, he says.


The final piece of evidence in Australia's favour is that when the pension funds investigate this market they see "probably the most sophisticated water trading market in the world," says Biggs. "Australia confronted the value of water a long time ago, and we price water appropriately." Producers in the US are being forced to confront the value of water, he says.

The water market in Australia can offer investors uncorrelated returns, but it is still small, says Cullen Gunn, director and CEO of farmland and water investment manager Kilter Rural. He says about $1 billion of water is traded annually, most of it in the Murray-Darling Basin, which produces one-third of Australia's food, almost all of its rice and cotton, and 45 per cent of its dairy output.

"The Australian water market channels water up the economic value chain, to where it finds its highest-value use," says Gunn. "The primary vehicle is a water entitlement, which is a perpetual share of water available in the system. Then there is the secondary vehicle, the allocation, which can differ depending on the amount of water in the system.

"They're both tradeable, but the allocations trade much more readily, and are a lot more volatile. They're sold to producers who need water for their crops. The sale of allocations creates yield," he says.

Kilter Rural manages both water and farmland investments for super funds, and says the "uncorrelated returns story" is slowly gaining traction, as is the level of returns. But he says many funds consider the market to be too small.

"If we're trading $1 billion a year, that is, pardon the pun, not liquid enough for most super funds, who simply like to invest in bigger licks," says Gunn. "They know that given the emerging demand from Asia for food, as an investor, holding agricultural land and water rights makes a lot of sense, but they'd like to see the market a bit bigger."

Gunn says holding entitlements and selling allocations will deliver between 4 per cent and 7 per cent a year, but it's volatile between seasons. "We're moving more towards generating investment products built around leasing water, where there is an indexed lease rate that is really the same as a commercial office lease." The leases generate between 5 per cent and 8 per cent a year, indexed and reviewed annually, he says, with a diversity of clients; dairy farms, nut and fruit growers.

"It's a terrific asset, because you're investing in the major input to meeting the export demand for Australian food, but you're not taking the agricultural risk of producing that food."

Michael Dundon, CEO at the $13 billion not-for-profit super fund VicSuper, has invested in water holdings and environmental remediation through Kilter. While mostly happy with the experience, Dundon sees the problems that other super funds may have in making similar forays.

"We're getting close to generating 9 per cent a year, after tax, which is where we wanted to be with a long-term investment, and it is uncorrelated return," Dundon says. "But at the same time, there is a scale question, and it's probably fair to say that super funds find themselves fairly constrained in that market. Large funds tend to want to invest more than the market can accommodate. We've yet to work out how much further would we be prepared to go."

One factor that may induce more super funds to consider these types of investments, he says, is that the return is "truly" uncorrelated. "A lot of what are considered 'alternative' investments, which purport to offer uncorrelated returns, are in reality hedge funds and absolute-return strategies, and that's not truly uncorrelated, in our view," says Dundon.

VicSuper does not consider its agribusiness and water holdings as part of its "alternative investments" exposure: it allocates them to "real assets", along with infrastructure and direct property. "We would have 7 per cent to 8 per cent in real assets, and within that, probably about 2 per cent of the fund would be in agribusiness/water.

"In this asset class, I think funds are going to want to invest directly. If they view it as a 'real asset' play, they're probably not going to want to go through ASX-listed stocks," he says.

Shane Kelly, principal at agribusiness corporate advisor Latitude 232, says the next generation of investment products will offer super funds exposure to agribusiness, without the need to take on operating and commodity risk. "Super funds that have previously had bad experiences in agriculture were primarily involved in owning and operating farms. Super funds need stable returns, so it makes sense for them to steer clear of operating and commodity risk and focus on buy and lease back investment models that deliver regular income and long term capital growth," Kelly says. 

"There is opportunity for super funds to own the underlying land assets, which will be leased to good operators, such as a blue-chip, large-scale family company or a corporate agribusiness. In some instances this may involve taking land off-balance sheet, while in others it will support an expansion of the area under management. This approach ensures that the people who have the experience operate the farms, while the super funds can earn stable returns from leases that will vary from 4 per cent to 10 per cent, depending on the risk weighting applied to the commodity sector and the quality of the counter-party involved."

Another potential approach is the "agri private equity" style of fund, such as the new Food and Fibre Fund offered by 3F Asset Management. "We're concentrating on assets that sit in the supply chain, between the farm gate and an Asian consumer," says 3F director Craig Anderson. "That could be on the input side – such as services that get supplied to farmers, machinery businesses, agronomic services, technology providers that increase efficiency and effectiveness of Australian agriculture – and then on the output side, from storage to logistics to wholesaling, cold-storage and transport and even distribution assets in Asia."

Anderson says the fund would either buy or invest in those businesses, "like a normal private equity player would".


Australia could miss out on second LNG boom, Chevron says

Natural gas exports have been touted as Australia's great white hope to replace plunging iron ore earnings, but oil major Chevron has warned the nation risks missing out on the next wave of investment.

Among the problems were too much regulation to get approvals, an inflexible industrial relations systems, high labour costs and taxes and government policies that don't support investment, said Chevron's Australian managing director Roy Krzywosinski.

He also took a veiled swipe at Australia's services companies that supply the industry, suggesting they needed to lift their game and better support oil and gas producers.

Australia's march to soon becoming the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas was a success story but its rapid growth was unprecedented and testing the capacity of those services industries, he said.

There was a potential $US100 billion ($127 billion) waiting in the wings with the associated economic benefits if the next wave of investment could be attracted.

However global competition was increasing, particularly with the new waves of US LNG projects due to an abundance of gas there driven by the onshore shale boom.

Not enough co-operation on logistics between LNG projects was occurring either to drive down costs, as mostly occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and North Sea, he said.

"We need to recognise there has not been a final investment decision on an Australian LNG development since 2012," Mr Krzywosinski told the Australian Petroleum and Exploration Association conference.

"As many of us forewarned, the second wave of LNG investment for Australia - which promised to deliver further benefits - is at serious risk of not happening, at least in the foreseeable future.

"A major contributor is Australia's falling international competitiveness."

Seven new LNG plants are due to come online over the next three years to add to the three current ones, with Chevron involved in building two of them: Gorgon and Wheatstone in Western Australia.