Sunday, August 09, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is irate about politician travel expenses.


Three current reports below

Taxpayers fund Greenies to kill jobs

TAXPAYER funds have helped the environmental group that scuttled the approval of the huge $7.5 billion Adani coal mine.

The Mackay Conservation Group took legal action to have Adani’s Carmichael mine approval set aside after it found flaws in the Federal Government’s paperwork.

The group denies using the $50,000 it received from the State Government to pay for the legal action, but industry backers say it could have cost the state much-needed jobs.

Former MIM boss Nick Stump was “aghast’’ at the further delays caused by the litigation.  “The funding of non-government organisations is so vast they have unlimited money to fight,’’ Mr Stump said. “You have to get an understanding of whether this is democracy.’’

Mr Stump said the whole system of approvals was grinding to a halt and he cited the example of the Aurukun bauxite lease he has been attempting to develop which has been bogged down in the bureaucracy for 12 years.

Mackay Conservation Group’s Ellen Roberts said the litigation against the Carmichael mine was funded by thousands of small donations.  “We do not spend government funds on advocacy or campaigning,’’ she said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, State Development Minister Anthony Lynham and Infrastructure and Planning Minister Jackie Trad have all publicly supported the project. However they have also reintroduced the third party objection rights that allow community groups and landholders to take legal action against developments in the Land Court.

The Palaszczuk Government said a small amount of funding had been provided by governments from both sides of politics for a number of years, with the most recent agreement signed by the former LNP Government in 2013.

GVK Hancock said a handful of anti-mining activists were using the courts to delay thousands of jobs for Queensland.

“If we don’t develop the Galilee Basin all that will happen is some other country will develop their equivalent resource to meet projected future global demand and gain the thousands of jobs and billions in taxes and royalties,” GVK’s Josh Euler said.

It has also come to light that the Federal Government would have known as far back as mid-June that MCG had exposed the flaw in the paperwork.

LNP senator Matt Canavan said it was getting very difficult for any development because of the activism and the public funding of green groups, which in many cases includes a tax-free status, was allowing them to become too powerful.

Senator Canavan said the funding of one side politics, such as environmental groups, was getting out of hand, and Labor was trying to walk both sides of the line by talking up jobs in the regions and also supporting the greens groups.

But Mr Lynham said the Government was keen to see the mine go ahead.

“We’d like to see it as not much of a delay. We’d like to the Federal Government to get in there and sort this out as quickly as they possibly can,” he said.

“Jobs are so important to the people of Queensland and Adani will bring jobs to a very needed area of Queensland and we look forward to those jobs being produced.”


Blocking Adani coal mine approval 'dangerous' for Australia, 'tragic' for world: Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is "frustrated" at the decision to overturn the approval of Adani's Carmichael coal mine, emphasising the size of the investment and the number of jobs it would have created.

The proposed coal mine in central Queensland was set aside by the Federal Court after it was found Environment Minister Greg Hunt did not properly consider advice about two vulnerable species, the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

Mr Abbott said projects like the Adani mine are too important to be hindered by red tape.  "If we get to the stage where the rules are such that projects like this can be endlessly frustrated, that's dangerous for our country and it's tragic for the wider world," he said.

"So we've got to get these projects right...but once they are fully complying with high environmental standards, let them go ahead.

"While it's absolutely true that we want the highest environmental standards to apply to projects in Australia, and while it's absolutely true that people have a right to go to court, this is a $21 billion investment, it will create 10,000 jobs in Queensland and elsewhere in our country."

Mr Abbott also said the mine would have a positive impact in India, where Adani is headquartered.

"Let them go ahead for the workers of Australia and for the people of countries like India who right at the moment have no electricity.  "Imagine what it's like to live in the modern world with no electricity.  "Australian resources can give them electricity and the interesting thing about Australian resources is that invariably they're much better for the environment than the alternative," he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was important for Australia to send the message that it welcomed foreign investment.

Adani has already spent $3 billion on the project.

Ms Bishop said Mr Abbott was commenting on the need to provide certainty for foreign investors.

She said it was important "to send a message that we welcome foreign investment, that we need foreign investment, if we are to provide the job opportunities for Australia in the future".

"That means ensuring that a major project subject to all the appropriate approvals can get underway," Ms Bishop said.

Hunt denies that approval overturn is a major problem

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has denied the overturning of the mine's approval was a major problem.

The Department of Environment said it was simply a "technical, administrative manner" and it would take between six to eight weeks for the department to prepare its advice and for the Minister to reconsider its final decision.


The humble 'yakka skink' that stopped a $16 billion coal mine

Approval for the largest coal mine in Australia has been overturned by the Federal Courts after it was found that the Minister for Environment did not adequately consider the fate of two vulnerable native species who call the region home.

Environmental approval for Adani's Carmichael coal mine in Central Queensland's Galilee Basin was declared invalid on Wednesday after it was ruled that Environment Minister Greg Hunt did not consider advice presented to him about the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

Approval for the $16 billion open cut and underground coal mine was granted in July 2014, however the move was soon contested by local conservation groups.

The Mackay Conservation group challenged the approval in January saying the Minister was breaching processes that were in place to 'protect vulnerable species from destructive projects such as this mine'.


Should Halal certification cost us all money?

AUSTRALIANS are asking what in halal is going on with religious food certification and demanding an end to being forced to pay for Islamic blessings on ordinary supermarket food items.

The Senate Economics References Committee’s inquiry into third party food certification had received a staggering 670 submissions since mid-May before acceptances ended on July 31.

The committee’s first line of inquiry is into the extent of food certification schemes and certifiers in Australia including, but not limited to, schemes related to organic, kosher, halal and genetically modified food and general food safety certification schemes. The overwhelming number of submissions relate to halal certification of ritual animal slaughter often secretly agreed to and paid for by major food suppliers who pass on their multimillion-dollar costs to unwitting Australian consumers.

The latest balance sheet from Australian Federation of Islamic Councils shows revenue from halal certification fees rose from $770,920 in 2013 to $901,526 last year, with supervision fees rising from $128,640 to $148,030.

The Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia Incorporated (SICHMA) reported certification income of $1,109,700 last year up from $1,044,876 in 2013. Its halal audits (a new item on the balance sheet) raised $402,162.

While the amount charged is often secret it is known that large abattoirs can pay $27,000 per month for certification, general wholesalers can pay $40,000 per year including GST and retailers (small kebab shops, etc) can pay $5000 per year.

Of the hundreds of submissions, more than 420 were made by individuals who provided their identities, nearly 140 asked that their names be withheld for various reasons and a handful were received from organisations.

Halal certification is a relatively new phenomenon in Australia and its development closely follows the surge in extremism and revival of sharia law over the past 40 years in the Middle East.

The majority of halal certifiers in Australia are private companies which are not ­required to report as transparently as those which claim to be religious or charitable organisations.

The money raised from halal certification is difficult to track once it leaves Australia but is almost universally used to further Islam through funding of mosques and schools.

Included in the submissions are claims that a Canadian investigation found funds raised in that country had gone to the terrorist organisation Hamas.

It is also claimed that meat exporting companies, large and small, are forced to certify their products under threat of religious boycotts from some companies.

One submission noted that when South Australian dairy company Fleurieu stopped paying for halal certification it immediately lost a $50,000 Emirates Airlines supply deal — so it started paying again and the contract was reinstated. Emirates is owned by the Sunni rulers of Dubai who embrace some sharia principles and punish homosexuals with up to 14 years in prison.

Certifiers can exert control over hiring practices, trade, money, contracts and create jobs for a diaspora of co-religionists, and the NSW Industrial Relations Commission found in 2000 that the Auburn-based SICHMA selected the men allowed to be considered for hire as slaughtermen and that the Saudi-approved certifier controlled these employees — not the abattoir that hired them.

The men paid up to $75,000 each for accreditation to secure the chance of a job, and it is unclear to whom they paid that money. SICHMA charged the abattoir secret fees of 30c per carton of processed halal meat in addition to the certification fee.

Australian companies wishing to export to Muslim countries are now unable to avoid paying for halal certification. Australia’s 12th-largest trading partner Indonesia has made halal certification compulsory by 2019 on imports including all food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetic.

Typical of the submissions is this from a concerned family: “We as consumers believe that private certification (not always marked on products), is inadvertently applying an ‘unofficial additional layer of cost’ to all such goods, and passed on to consumers.

“Of more concern, Australians are being forced to fund private religious bodies, to comply with traditions not applicable to the majority of purchasers!

“We find this deeply offensive, and respectfully request that all products provide clear labelling to allow ‘choice’ at the point of purchase, and not be compelled to make donations to these religious faiths/institutions.

“This is of particular concern with the current rampant spread of this certification and funding of halal and the Islamic faith.

“As to halal/kosher or any other certification requirements of a religious nature, both for domestic or export purposes, we propose that the Australian government be the ONLY Certification Board, and all costs for such certification would then flow to the Australian coffers and thereby benefit all Australians through the revenues raised.

“This would also provide a twofold benefit, by removing the concern as to where such monies are being spent …

“And secondly, this would then remove the ‘offensive’ stigmatism of funding a religious custom contrary to one’s own religious views, and surely remove most Australian non-Muslim objections?”

Question to the committee — will it provide a responsible answer to the legitimate concerns of so many voters when it reports in November?


Poorly-founded claims about ocean acidification.  Bulk of research on impacts of ocean acidification is FLAWED, new Australian study finds

Hundreds of doom-laden studies about the effects of climate change on the Earth's oceans may be flawed and unreliable, a major review has found.

For years, scientists have warned that rising levels of carbon dioxide are marking our seas more acidic – and that this spells disaster for marine life.

But a review of hundreds of studies into the effects of acidity on sea creatures suggest the vast majority may be unreliable or not fit for purpose.

The review – by two experts in Australia – said only 27 of more than 400 studies into the issue were appropriately carried out.

And 278 studies were 'clearly inappropriate' which means a huge amount of research is not fit for purpose. Some of the research, if 'reanalysed', might yield useful data, but not in its current form, say the authors.

Christopher Cornwall, who studies ocean acidification at the University of Western Australia, and ecologist Catriona Hurd of the University of Tasmania, wrote in their paper in the ICES Journal of Marine Science: 'This analysis identified that most laboratory manipulation experiments in ocean acidification research used either an inappropriate experimental design and/or data analysis, or did not report these details effectively.'

To test the effect on ocean creatures – whether lobsters, plankton, mussels, or fish – is a complex business. It requires using big tanks of seawater containing sealife to slosh around on moving tables that simulate the effect of the tides for days on end. Seawater is made more acidic by adding chemicals.

Errors made in the studies include increasing acidity without increasing temperature, not looking at other effects such as an increase of chemicals called carbonates and failing to eliminate the risk of observer bias.

The authors, commenting in Nature, say the 'overwhelming evidence' of ocean acidifiation still stands. [They had to say that]. But they say it is hard to assess the impact of ocean life from most of the experiments that have been carried out.


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