Friday, July 17, 2015

Nationals MP George Christensen slams GetUp over Reclaim Australia petition

"Hell will freeze over" before Queensland federal MP George Christensen gives in to the "intimidation" of an online petition trying to stop him speaking at an anti-Islam rally.

The Mackay-based backbencher hit out at activist group GetUp for hosting a petition calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to block his attendance at Sunday's Reclaim Australia rally in the central Queensland city.

Reclaim Australia trumpeted Mr Christensen's involvement on Tuesday and the petition had been posted within a day, calling on Mr Abbott to denounce the group and block his MP from attending.

"Hell will freeze over before I give in to such intimidation," The Nationals MP posted to Facebook on Thursday.  "However, it's plain to see who wants to shut down free speech and the right to peaceful assembly and protest in this country."

The petition was posted to CommunityRun, a GetUp website where anyone can launch a campaign so long as it is not "defamatory, discriminatory or illegal".  The advocacy group stresses the campaigns are "not run or endorsed by GetUp".

Queensland 16-year-old Tom Rainsford started the petition, saying it was vital to tell the government "we don't stand for religious discrimination".  "We can't allow a Member of Parliament to participate in rallies that discriminate against ethnic and religious minorities in Australia," he wrote.

On Thursday morning, the petition had 92 signatures out of a goal of just 100.

GetUp acting national director Paul Oosting stressed his organisation didn't control CommunityRun petitions but said Mr Christensen's outrage was "disingenuous".

"I think we've seen a very strong and bullying reaction from Mr Christensen in relation to what I think is very legitimate criticism of his behaviour," he said, adding Tom wasn't available to speak until after he finished school for the day.

The Reclaim Australia movement campaigns against "halal tax, sharia law and Islamisation" but denies accusations of racism.

Mr Christiansen said he wanted to support people defending the Australian "way of life", culture and freedom from radical Islam.  "I made the decision to speak after reviewing the Reclaim movement's 24 principles," he wrote.

"These principles include equality of law, equality of genders and freedom of speech as well as supporting Australia's right to exile or deport traitors."


Pew Research concludes Australians most fear the threat of IS

GLOBAL climate change, economic instability, Iran’s nuclear program, cyber attacks; the world’s certainly got a few worries up its sleeve.

But when it comes to Australians, what keeps us up at night comes is the nightmare that is IS, a global survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre has revealed.

More than 45,000 people across 40 countries were asked a series of questions regarding their concern level over the biggest issues facing the globe today, including tensions between Russia and its neighbours and territorial disputes with China. 1004 Australians were polled in the study, and they could name more than one category they were “very concerned” about.

And while climate change took the top gong as the world’s overall “top threat”, more Australians were “very concerned” about Islamic State (69 per cent) than any other global threat.

“The challenge that we face in addressing Islamic State is that it has not shown any interest in abiding with an international system of conventions, and it has an ideology that is intent on killing people without any concerns for the sanctity of life,” International development expert Dr Denis Dragovic told The Guardian.

Many Australians will be relieved at the news of this week’s deal with Iran over their nuclear program. Prior to the agreement that the middle eastern country would curb its program in exchange for relief of international sanctions, 38 per cent of Australians said they were concerned about the Iranian nuclear program.

37 per cent of Australians said they felt very concerned about climate change, and the same percentage were concerned about cyber attacks.

Many first world countries had similar concerns, with Islamic State being of concern in the U.S. (68 per cent), Canada (58 per cent), France (71 per cent), Germany (70 per cent), Italy (69 per cent), Spain (77 per cent) and the UK (66 per cent).

Most of these countries had experienced some form of terror attack involving the organisation.

“In Europe, a median of 70 per cent express serious concerns about the threat posed by the growing organisation,” read the survey.

“Apprehension is greatest in Spain (77 per cent), but anxiety about ISIS is high throughout the continent.

It follows Islamic State’s brutal campaign to wreak havoc over the West, where over the last 12 months the group has spread fear through its documentation of brutal beheadings and terror attacks across home soil and beyond.

IS controls large parts of Iraq and Syria and has, over the past year, spread to other countries such as Egypt and Libya, where its franchises are also wreaking devastation.


Building union thug arrested

A FORMER construction union organiser has been arrested a short while after he admitted to a royal commission he took $60,000 from a formwork company owner - but only because they were friends.

THE trade unions royal commission was also played a secret recording on Thursday from April this year in which Halafihi "Fihi" Kivalu demanded Elias Taleb pay him another $50,000.

But the former organiser, who left the CFMEU last November, said the payments in instalments - which he later gambled away on the pokies - were made without the union's knowledge.

"Mr Taleb voluntarily gave me money hoping that I would use my contacts to help him in the industry," he said.

He added that the handovers were always above board and never happened when he was wearing a CFMEU uniform.

The pair were friends, often sharing a beer, and their children played together.

However, another call played to the hearing - between Mr Kivalu and his wife - indicated he knew what he was doing was wrong.

"What else do I do, because I organised a crime and it comes back to bite us up in the arse ... if I'm behind bars because I've organised people," he told his wife during the conversation.

Mr Taleb, the owner of Class 1 Form, told a hearing on Monday he paid Mr Kivalu a total of $135,000 to secure jobs in the capital.

"Mr Taleb is full of s***," the former organiser told the commission on Thursday, before being asked to calm down by commissioner Dyson Heydon.

When pressed on the call where he demanded more money, Mr Kivalu said he was trying to give Mr Taleb a piece of his own medicine after he "blackmailed" him to the union's ACT branch secretary, Dean Hall.

Mr Kivalu also admitted to accepting $40,000 from tiler Medwhat Elesawiy, but said it was also voluntarily offered in the hope that he would help with work in Canberra.

Later, after his evidence and a meeting with his lawyers at a Canberra office building, police officers arrested Mr Kivalu.

He was led outside without handcuffs and put into the back of a police van.

The former organiser had earlier also admitted to not knowing how he came to pocket more than $32,000 in redundancy pay.

Mr Kivalu told the hearing he resigned from his position for personal reasons on November 10, 2014.

But when asked why he received a redundancy payment of $32,267 a day later, Mr Kivalu told the commissioner: "I don't know."

The CFMEU's legal team turned up on Thursday, denying it boycotted the first three days of the ACT hearings.

The union's national secretary, Dave Noonan, had distanced himself from Mr Kivalu, saying on Monday allegations against the former organiser should be investigated by the police and courts.

ACT Policing said in a statement that officers had arrested a 39-year-old Queanbeyan man following the hearings.

"Inquiries are continuing, and it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this point," a spokeswoman said.


Chaos over carbon hits Bill Shorten after ETS leak

Bill Shorten faces a destructive Coalition carbon tax scare campaign through to the next election after the damaging leak of draft Labor plans for an emissions trading scheme and an extra tax on electricity generators further ­undermined his leadership cred­ibility.

The Opposition Leader and his frontbench colleagues were forced to play down the importance of an internal Labor proposal to introduce a carbon price and limit greenhouse gas emissions from power generators after Tony Abbott accused the ALP of wanting to revive a “triple whammy” carbon tax.

Senior Labor sources said the document was a discussion draft, there had not been any decisions on electricity or vehicle emissions schemes and carbon policy had not yet been the subject of a meeting of shadow cabinet.

“Labor will not introduce a carbon tax,’’ Mr Shorten said, dismissing suggestions to the contrary as “complete rubbish’’.

Sources conceded the leak, whether a deliberate attempt to undermine Mr Shorten or an accid­ent, was damaging.
The leak came a week before an ALP national conference, where the Left and Right factions will battle for control amid ­looming contentious debates on asylum-seeker boat turnbacks, the Israel-Palestine question, a binding vote on same-sex marriage and climate policy.

While it had been widely ­expected the opposition would take a revived emissions trading scheme to the next election, the Prime Minister yesterday leapt on the chance to tar Mr Shorten with a carbon tax after successfully using such campaigns to help bring down Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard as Labor prime ministers in 2010 and 2013.

“Now we find out that if Labor were to come back, the carbon tax would be back,” Mr Abbott said. “Not just the carbon tax that we had before, but a carbon tax which is going to have a triple-whammy effect; a carbon tax that will act as an emissions trading scheme on households, a special carbon tax on power generation, and yet another carbon tax on cars. This just shows that Labor can’t learn and hasn’t changed. And it shows that Bill Shorten is, in every respect, a carbon copy of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.”

Mr Shorten responded to the disclosure with an emphatic ­denial that Labor would introduce a carbon tax and the accusation that Mr Abbott “hates to talk about climate change”.

“But I tell you what we will do, we won’t stick our heads in the sand, bury ourselves in the past and ignore climate change,” he said. “The Labor Party I lead ­believes in climate change.

“The choice is clear in Australia. You’ve got Mr Abbott, who doesn’t like solar power, doesn’t like wind power, is walking away from investing in it, jeopardising business certainty and the thousands of jobs that go with it, or you’ve got my Labor team. We believe in climate change, we don’t believe in passing the problems of pollution to future generations, and our focus will be on renewable energy, and there is going to be no carbon tax.”

Despite the quick response from Mr Shorten, the Labor leadership team knows the carbon tax attack will further hurt his standing in the polls and continue to pose a political challenge.

Mr Shorten’s public approval has suffered after the ABC’s Killing Season revisited his role in the demise of Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard and last week’s appearance at the trade union royal commission.

The document, prepared by environment spokesman Mark Butler, was relatively tightly held, having been distributed to about 10 MPs, although sections had been given to experts for consultation. There had been several different drafts of the discussion, which had been circulated to various groups within the party but not taken to shadow cabinet.

The leaked document discussed a modified version of the original carbon tax that would be resurrected in the first-term of a Labor government with a separate scheme for the electricity sector and another for other sectors.

Although businesses would be offered “no upfront cost’’ in the first phase between next year and 2019, firms that exceeded the cap would have to buy international credits to offset their emissions. A second post-2020 phase with tougher requirements would be worked out in government.

The draft also canvassed Canadian and US-style regulations to limit the emissions intensity and operating life of power plants, and an intermediate energy efficiency target. Adopting European and US vehicle emissions standards was also canvassed, with forecasts this could add $1500 to the cost of a new car by 2025 but this would be offset by fuel savings of $830 in the first year and $8500 over the life of the vehicle.

Mr Butler said Labor had not finalised its climate policies but it would not introduce a carbon tax and would instead take to the next election an emissions trading scheme. He said the leaked document was one of a series of discussion papers “to guide the thinking of the leadership from the shadow cabinet in this area’’.

Energy Supply Association of Australia chief executive Matthew Warren called for an end to the politicisation of climate change policy. He said the effect of a decade of chronic climate policy failure had been to render the electricity generation sector virtually unbankable, and to exhaust the patience of businesses and consumers.


Many Australian Parents In The Dark About Their Children’s Online Activities

Norton Report reveals 74 percent of parents are oblivious to their kids’ online activities

According to survey data released today by Internet security company, Norton by Symantec, many Australian parents are in the dark about their kid’s online activities and are avoiding crucial conversations about their children’s online privacy and security practices.

Polling 600 Australian parents across the country, the Norton survey examines parents’ understanding and involvement with their children’s online activities. The survey reveals that 74 percent of Australian parents are oblivious to their kids’ online activities.                                                           

The Norton survey also shows that many parents are disconnected from their children’s online world and are not engaging with their children about Internet practices that can harm them both now and in the future. For example, approximately 41 percent of Australian parents surveyed never check their children’s online activities, and never discuss sexting (52 percent), cyberbullying (41 percent) or stranger danger online (37 percent).

“From websites to apps to games and online communities, children have access to a ton of content that can affect them both positively and negatively,” said Mark Gorrie, Director, Norton by Symantec, Pacific region.  “Children are interacting online at a younger age and more than ever before and it’s impossible for parents to watch over their kids every second they’re online.  Parents need to arm their children with the knowledge and skills they need to use the Internet positively without compromising their privacy and security.”

Alarmingly about one in five (18 percent) Australian parents surveyed had been warned about their child’s social media activities by their school and approximately 15 percent of parents had admitted to having at least one child impacted by cyberbullying, while one in three children identified themselves as being impacted by cyberbullying.  In addition, almost one in three (27 percent) Australian parents admitted that their young children had joined a social networking account even though they did not meet the minimum age rule.

To help promote online safety, digital ethics and privacy, Norton has partnered with author, child rights activist and parent, Tara Moss, to be our first Norton Family Ambassador in Australia.

“Security, privacy and online ethics are now a necessary part of parenting, just like road safety and safe sex education. Kids using connected devices in the comfort of the family home may look harmless, but activity online has consequences and impacts beyond the home and beyond that moment. As with anything else, education and guidance are needed. To some, the Internet is not part of the real world, but it is. Things said online are sent by real people and received by real people, and when the recipient is a child, unpleasant online exchanges can be more damaging,” said Moss.

“The Norton survey reveals there is a general lack of awareness about the role of parents in educating children about Internet security and privacy.  Many parents haven’t grown up as connected to the online world as their children and may be unaware of the potential impacts of online activity. While schools and governments have invested in teaching children safe Internet practices, it is no longer enough. Parents need to get informed about what they can do to protect their children and take an active role in their children’s understanding of privacy and online ethics, as well as their online well-being,” Moss added.

While technologies exist today that help parents keep their children safe online, 44 percent of parents surveyed confess they never discuss using privacy settings on their children’s social networking accounts and 43 percent do not have parental controls set up on their children’s connected devices. In addition, almost one in three (29 percent)  Australian parents surveyed admit to not having any rules in place about what their child can or cannot do online.

“There are simple steps parents can take to protect their children online. Having an open conversation with children about their online habits can go a long way in protecting children online. Norton also recommends turning on the filtering and security features in search engines and social networking accounts and installing free parental control software, such as Norton Family,” said Gorrie.

Press release

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