Thursday, August 10, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is disturbed about a ban on the building of a synagogue at Bondi

Coal, coal, glorious coal! Mining giant Glencore granted big new coal mining permits in Australia

The Queensland government has granted mining giant Glencore leases for a multi-billion dollar coal mine in the state's south west.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham has granted Glencore three 27-year leases covering 30,000 hectares for the first stage of its $7 billion Wandoan mine near Roma.

The open cut mine is proposed to operate for 35 years in the Surat Basin, and will require a railway to the Gladstone Port.

Glencore has previously acknowledged the disproportionate risk surrounding new projects.

Doubts about the future of the Wandoan mine have lingered since 2012, amid falling thermal coal prices and a poor market outlook.

The Palaszczuk government's decision to grant the leases has sparked anger among environmental groups, who say it has displaced farmers and poses a threat to the state's agricultural industry.


Martin Place tent city: Premier Gladys Berejiklian announces change to legislation on Sydney Crown land

The NSW state government will seek to change the law to give it the power to send in police to dismantle the homeless camp in Martin Place, effectively bypassing the City of Sydney and its bid to resolve the issue amicably.

The move will pave the way for the eviction of dozens of homeless people who have established a tent city in Martin Place, following a long-running stoush between the government and the City.

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the proposed legislation would be introduced to Parliament today, and was expected to pass within days, to be enforced by the end of the week.

The legislation would give the government the power to authorise the police "to be able to move in, take property and also ask people to move on if it's deemed to be a public safety issue", she said.

The proposed legislation affects only Crown land within the City of Sydney, and does not extend to other councils.

Ms Berejiklian rejected suggestions the new law could be used to break up other types of protests within the city.  "This relates specifically to unauthorised activity on Crown land. It is not at all interfering with people's right to protest.

"What is happening in Martin Place is beyond protest because it's unauthorised activity which is compromising the public safety of those most vulnerable but also the safety of the community."

The Premier described the new law as a "course of action which I wish I did not have to take," and instead sought to attribute the government's heavy-handed approach to inaction by the City of Sydney.

"We know that the City of Sydney had power to deal with that issue today. They had powers to deal with this issue weeks ago. Regrettably they chose not to use those powers."

The Premier said existing state laws provided the government with limited police powers to break up the camp by issuing the homeless occupants with warrants and forcing them to face court action - a method she said she wasn't prepared to use. "We don't have any powers whatsoever that would provide a satisfactory conclusion."

The government's course of action brings to a head an intensifying political war with the council over the tent city, which emerged at the top of Martin Place in December 2016.

Lord mayor Clover Moore has maintained the council does not have the power to move people on.

Ms Berejiklian's announcement effectively scuppers the approach taken by Cr Moore, who announced on Monday she had brokered a "peaceful" deal with the so-called mayor of the homeless camp, Lanz Priestley, to dismantle the tents and relocate to a temporary "safe space".

Cr Moore, at Monday night's council meeting, represented the deal as having the support of the Premier, and indicated that the state government would match the council's pledge of $100,000 towards a permanent 24-hour "safe space".

However, the deal was immediately rendered flimsy amid confusion about whether people could sleep at the space, and lack of certainty over where the two spaces – temporary and permanent – would be located.

Three council trucks arrived at the site in the early hours of Tuesday to move some of the inhabitants' belongings to storage, but Mr Priestley said the group wouldn't move until the safe space was identified.  "I have no address for it. I have no sense of where it is, or anything," he said.

On Tuesday, Social Housing Minister Pru Goward rejected any suggestion the deal had been agreed to by the state government.

"I have no idea what Clover Moore is referring to. I certainly know that we won't be dealing with an unknown site, an unknown service provided by an unknown provided to do unknown things for homeless people," Ms Goward said.

Instead, Ms Goward said the state government would work with the Wayside Chapel in Potts Point to extend its operations to 24 hours a day to provide a "safe space" for the city's homeless.

Responding to the Premier's announcement on Tuesday, Cr Moore said the new law would set up the "risk of violent conflicts between police and vulnerable homeless people as we saw in Melbourne".

She urged the government to refrain from sending in police until the council had processed the request to extend the Wayside Chapel's operational hours, which it would do so urgently, she said.  However, it remains likely that some of the camp's homeless will be left without immediate shelter once police dismantle the tents.

Ms Berejiklian urged the homeless to urgently work with the department of housing, who have found permanent housing for 73 of the camp's rough sleepers. "Please talk to our people. Tell us what you need and we will make sure you have that alternative accommodation."


High speed rail and the affordability crisis

Australia's high speed rail should be for commuting and not connecting cities

Australia has wasted decades, millions of dollars and countless man-hours pointlessly trying to replace air travel between Sydney and Melbourne with trains, when the only current goal of high-speed rail should be to connect cities with regional hubs. 

The Melbourne and Sydney housing affordability story has become a transport story, because as prices have risen so have commute times – and that severely limits options for those trying to buy on a budget.

The train journey from Newcastle and Penrith to Sydney’s CBD is slower now than it was 30 years ago, according to PwC transport expert Robert Williams, and it’s a similar story with Melbourne’s nearest towns and cities.

Current plans for high-speed rail connecting Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane involve a $114 billion price tag and a 50-year time frame.Current plans for high-speed rail connecting Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane involve a $114 billion price tag and a 50-year time frame. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe

Connecting Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane via high-speed rail is hysterically expensive, but connecting places like Geelong and Ballarat to Melbourne, Newcastle and Wollongong to Sydney, and Toowoomba to Brisbane with trips of around 45 minutes is more doable.

And it’s bait.

Bringing down those commute times from the ballpark of one  to 1½ hours each way to about 45 minutes would offer an attractive opportunity to the huge number of Australians currently locked out of major city property markets. They could move to regional hubs and keep their city jobs without sacrificing three hours or more to the daily commute.

That’s how you ease capital city house prices without having to tamper with negative gearing or capital gains tax exemptions. It’d also help decongest city roads and boost regional development.

Rather than wasting more time and money promising to send trains hurtling up and down the entire east coast, the Department of Infrastructure should strip back its high-speed rail plans and focus only on the area it’d have the biggest impact – everyday commuting.


Marriage plebiscite: Tony Abbott urges a 'no' vote to reject political correctness and protect religious freedom

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has kicked off his campaign for a 'no' vote in a postal plebiscite, urging Australians to reject same-sex marriage if they want to protect religious freedom and reject political correctness.

"Obviously I will be voting no. But in the end this is not about the politicians, this is about the people, it's about your view," he said on Wednesday morning.

The former PM will vote against same sex marriage and has offered up some interesting reasons for people to do the same.

"And I say to you if you don't like same-sex marriage, vote no. If you're worried about religious freedom and freedom of speech, vote no, and if you don't like political correctness, vote no because voting no will help to stop political correctness in its tracks."

The Turnbull government on Tuesday agreed to hold a $122 million non-compulsory, non-binding plebiscite on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. Ballots will likely be posted from September, should the plan survive a likely High Court challenge.

Mr Abbott praised his successor, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, for settling on the policy and said a postal plebiscite would be authoritative. Earlier this week, he had questioned whether a postal ballot would have legitimacy amid concerns the response rate could be low.

The former Liberal leader, who engineered the Coalition's original plebiscite policy in 2015 shortly before losing the top job, promised to respect the result and urged all MPs to do the same.

Mr Turnbull, a supporter of same-sex marriage, has signalled he will not be an active campaigner ahead of the vote.

Opponents of change are gearing up for an all-out campaign for a "no" result, including distributing leaflets claiming the children of gay and lesbian parents are more prone to "abuse and neglect".

While the government believes it is on safe legal ground with its postal plebiscite, the policy could still face a legal challenge from same-sex marriage advocates.


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

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