Showing posts with label right wing politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label right wing politics. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 October 2017

In the face of the growing threat of climate change sometimes Australian politicians leave me speechless


The Guardian, 9 October 2017:

The New South Wales government will introduce legislation to approve an underground coalmine that was blocked by the courts because it was polluting Sydney’s drinking water.

On Monday the state’s energy minister, Don Harwin, announced the government would overturn a decision by the NSW court of appeal to block the extension of the Springvale colliery.

The mine, owned by Centennial Coal, is the sole supplier to Lithgow’s Mount Piper power station, which provides about 10% of NSW’s electricity.

On Monday Harwin said the mine was “vital for energy security and affordability”.

“My top priority as energy minister is to ensure NSW households and business have an affordable, secure and reliable energy supply – this decision supports that,” he said.

The legislation, which is expected to be introduced to the parliament this week, will change the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to “clarify” that “projects in the Sydney water catchment seeking to expand must maintain or improve water quality compared to their existing consent”.

It will also specifically validate the Springvale mine’s state significant development consent.

The government’s planning minister, Anthony Roberts, said the legislation would “support the construction of a water treatment plant” which he said would eliminate saline discharges.

“This new treatment plant will see zero mine water discharge into the Coxs river, is supported by the EPA and WaterNSW and has separately been approved by the independent Planning Assessment Commission,” he said.

In August the court of appeal determined that the mine was polluting Sydney’s drinking water and therefore operating on an invalid licence.

After a challenge by environment group 4nature, the court found the commission had erred in approving the licence because it involved discharging polluted water into Sydney’s drinking catchment.

The approval involved saline mine water being discharged into the Coxs river, which flows into Lake Burragorang, Sydney’s major drinking-water reservoir.

Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Donald Thomas HARWIN, BEc(Hons) MLC parliamentary bio.

Liberal Member for Lane Cove, Minister for Planning, Minister for Housing, and Special Minister of State, Leader of the House, Anthony John ROBERTS, MA (Comms) MP parliamentary bio.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The new Abbott Manifesto is now online


http://tonyabbott.com.au/, snapshot taken 11 October 2017

Let's Make Australia Work Again

"We need to give the public something to hope for; we need to give our own people something to fight for." - Tony Abbott

A plan to win the next election

Fix the Parliament. Reform the senate – make it a house of review, not a house of rejection – to end the gridlock and make Australia work again.

Live within our means. Stop all new and frivolous spending to fix the budget and stop ripping off our grandchildren.

Take the pressure off power prices. End further subsidies of intermittent and unreliable energy.

Make housing more affordable. By scaling back immigration to migrants who can make a contribution from day one.

Make Australia safe. Keep Jihadis off the streets. Stop hate-preachers. Make better use of the armed forces. Let police shoot-to-kill to save innocent lives.

Celebrate Australia - don’t run it down. End funding for bully bureaucracies and welcome straight talking.

Every line in this divisive six-point manifesto flags real danger to a nation hoping to remain an open, free and peaceful multicultural society based on democratic principals and equality before the law. 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

National ID Database: so you think if you do nothing wrong you'll have nothing to fear?


“There is also a tendency for technologies to converge, allowing for the creation of devices with increased surveillance capabilities. CCTV, for example, may be combined with facial recognition technology….to identify individuals from their images. Another example is modern mobile phones, which combine telephonic services with GPS tracking software, digital visual and sound recording capabilities, and connection to the internet. A consequence of the convergence of surveillance technologies is the greater ability of surveillance users to compile detailed pictures of members of the public, making it increasingly difficult for individuals to maintain their privacy and anonymity.” [Victorian Law Reform Commission – Surveillance in Public Places: Final Report 18, 2010]

This month the Turnbull Government, state and territory governments have agreed to add the photo IDs of all registered drivers to the Facial Biometric Matching Capability (FBMC) database (est. 16 November 2016) which already has access to passport photographs, visa application photos, airport surveillance images and arrest ID images from the criminal justice system.

Additional images will probably be harvested from social media and added to this database which is to be used with CCTV footage of the general population going about their daily lives when considered necessary by police and security services. The biometric 'map' of an individual's face created by FBMC being easily applied to searches of video footage from public venue, shopping centre, street and road cameras as CCTV technology is now capable of recognising faces of people, vehicles, animals and bags automatically.

FBMC will involve using a Face Verification Service , Face Identification Service, One Person One Licence Service and Facial Recognition Analysis Utility Service in identity matching, along with a the Document Verification Service, Identity Data Sharing Service and/or any other government identity matching or data sharing service and, of course one of the areas it will be used is in so-called crime prevention.

Use of this facial recognition database will also be available to authorised private sector agencies and, like many new tools it is likely there will be function creep so that photo IDs will be required by more government agencies and private businesses when interacting with individuals in the future.

The Facial Biometric Matching Capability database will function alongside the Biometric Identification Services (BIS) which features national identification capability using fingerprints, palm prints, foot prints and facial recognition, person identity and evidence image case management, image enhancement tools and record auditing, matching services of one to one, one to few, one to many, and many to many, as well as photobook, photo line-up and witness viewing services.

But what’s the worry? After all if you are an ordinary person not committing a crime you have nothing to fear. Right?

Well there is this on the horizon…………..


Criminologists at Monash undertake cutting edge research in the areas of risk and security that is theoretically sophisticated, innovative and highly relevant to areas of pressing national and international concern. The discipline hosts two recipients of the Australian government’s prestigious Future Fellowship Award, Professor Sharon Pickering and Associate Professor Weber, both undertaking programs of research on border policing. Their jointly authored book Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier was awarded Australia’s most significant criminology publication award in 2013. The Border Crossing Observatory is the online repository of all border-related research undertaken by Monash Criminology and our national and international partners. Criminologists at Monash have received multiple highly competitive Australian Research Council grants to investigate a host of risk and security related topics, amongst them, counter terrorism laws and policing, immigration and exploitive labour practices, deportation, regional security, and the gendered nature of border crossing and transnational law enforcement. Our risk and security research expertise includes the interrelated topics of borders, counter terrorism, state crime, transnational crime, irregular migration, human trafficking, risk and disability, and pre-crime. [my yellow bolding]

What is “pre-crime”?

Put simply, “pre-crime” activity is a crime not yet committed – it is the suspicion that an individual might be capable of breaking an unidentified law at some unspecified time in the future.

Such suspicion does not mean there is a need to charge, prosecute or convict for a specific crime. Intervention at “pre-crime” stage is supposedly risk containment.

You don’t have to be researching bomb-building or Googling how to buy a weapon online to commit a “pre-crime” activity - it can be your thoughts and political opinions spoken aloud or written down, as well as your actions at a public meeting or protest rally.

It can even be allegedly ‘guilty knowledge’ in that you knew the time and place a small environmental activist group was going to confront their local MP or you saw a person painting an anti-government picket sign ahead of a planned street march.

Going to the media – social or mainstream – with a genuine complaint against a government department might be considered a “pre-crime” if you visibly persist in seeking answers, redress or apology. You could easily be labelled "fixated" by police if a government minister takes offence and decides to complain.

If you make a small donation to a group the police or government consider problematic, troublesome or obstructive of the aims of government or big business you may at some time in the future be considered politically partisan and displaying “pre-crime” tendencies.

These are just some of the groups that are already complained about by big business and politicians: Environment Victoria, Wilderness Society (Australia, Victoria & Queensland), Friends of the Earth, Victorian National Parks Association, Australian Conservation Foundation, Lock the Gate Alliance, 350.org Australia, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Australian Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth Australia, Politics in the Pub and GetUp! as well as Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd.

Just belonging to a group or community association which speaks up on matters of social, economic, environmental or political concern could see you being eyed off as part of a potential conspiracy in the making.

In at least one Western country pre-crime can also manifest itself as a suspicion that you have come into a city centre with the intention of having a drink or two and you will be given a 48 hour direction-to-leave order.

With the notion of “pre-crime” there is no presumption of innocence and little more than lip service to due process if any arm of state or federal government decides you are a person of interest.

So how will pre-crime activity be monitored by police and security services? Well one of the methods used will be surveillance and this surveillance may involve use of the Facial Biometric Matching Capability database created by the Turnbull Government.

Surely this couldn’t possibly happen in Australia? you say. Think again. 

We already keep individuals in gaol long after their court-imposed sentence has been fully completed under continuing detention legislation, have preventative detention without charge and control orders which can be applied to both minors and adults, police are known to use spyware to enter, monitor and control home computers and, in certain circumstances your home can be entered and searched without your knowledge by police and security services.

And here in Australia we have a history of unwarranted surveillance based on an individual's political association (1950s Cold War era) and political dissent (1960s & early 1970s Viet Nam War era) as well as virtually unchallenged unlawful use of coercive powers (Border Force 2014 to 2017).

Police and security agencies are constantly pushing for more legislation which would allow amongst other matters the creation of a raft of pre-emptive, punitive measures based solely on suspicion and an individual’s “pre-crime” tendencies.

Right now in Australia governments are all about political and physical control of the population - they are not about human rights, 'civil liberties' or a free, open and democratic society.

As a society Australia has been sliding down that slippery slope towards an authoritarian destination for years now and in 2017 we appear to have reached the bottom of the slope.

“For years, there’s been ample evidence that authoritarian governments around the world are relying on technology produced by American, Canadian, and European companies to facilitate human rights abuses.  From software that enables the filtering and blocking of online content to tools that help governments spy on their citizens, many such companies are actively serving autocratic governments as "repression’s little helper."
The reach of these technologies is astonishingly broad: governments can listen in on cell phone calls, use voice recognition to scan mobile networks, read emails and text messages, censor web pages, track a citizen’s every movement using GPS, and can even change email contents while en route to a recipient. Some tools are installed using the same type of malicious malware and spyware used by online criminals to steal credit card and banking information. They can secretly turn on webcams built into personal laptops and microphones in cell phones not being used. And all of this information is filtered and organized on such a massive scale that it can be used to spy on every person in an entire country.” [Electronic Frontiers Foundation, accessed 7 October 2017]

“Australia’s leading privacy and civil liberties organisations condemn the decision by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to provide all images from state and territory driver’s licence databases to the federal National Facial Biometric Matching Capability.
The creation of such a comprehensive national facial database is an unnecessary and disproportionate invasion of the privacy rights of all Australians, is the foundation for suspicionless, warrantless mass surveillance and is fundamentally incompatible with a free and open society.

David Vaile, Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation said, “This government has proven it is blind and deaf to privacy and personal information security threats. Make no mistake – this database will affect all Australians, even the most conscientious and law-abiding. It will likely generate massive ‘false positive’ lists that will flood our very effective police and security services with useless distractions. We’ve already seen calls for ‘scope creep’ to cover welfare enforcement, and there’s every reason to expect this capability will come to be used to identify people with unpaid fines and other minor issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” [Electronic Frontiers Australia, 6 October 2017]

“Every single portion of human rights activism overlaps, manifests or is exercised with the use of technology. That alone caused attackers and adversaries to recognize that technology itself is a good vehicle to get to these people and interfere with them or cause them harm.” [Claudio Guarnieri of Amnesty International quoted in Threat Post at Kapersky Lab, 4 October 2017]

Friday, 6 October 2017

National Party President Larry Anthony is not happy and neither are a good many Australian voters



On 30 September 2017 Lawrence James "Larry" Anthony (pictured above) was not happy and here’s the reason why:


The Directors of The SAS Group note reports in Fairfax newspapers today which refer to our firm.  The SAS Group prides itself on achieving outstanding results for our clients.  That has been our track record since our inception almost a decade ago, and we make no apology for the fact that we give our clients the best advice and guidance to help them achieve their business goals.

At all times we operate in accordance with the Federal lobbying laws and code of conduct, and we will always do so. We note that the Fairfax journalist has made no allegation of impropriety, and was not able, when asked, to point to any breach of the relevant code.

We are unbothered by the baseless implications upon which the news story is founded.  However, we are deeply offended that our hard-working staff and consultants should have their achievements debased in this way.

The SAS Group has risen to be one of Australia’s leading strategic communications consultancies because our consultants have a breadth of experience in media, government and a range of industry sectors.  We value the outcomes achieved by our personnel, and we – and our clients – understand that the firm’s success is derived not from the standing of one director, but from the efforts of our entire team.

The media report in question can be found in The Sydney Morning Herald of the same day, Nationals Interest: Larry Anthony, the party president who runs a lobbying firm.

On 30 September 2017 thousands of voters across Australia were also not happy and here’s their reasons why:

The Catholic Leader, 27 September 2017:

THE plan to rollout cashless welfare cards to thousands of residents on the dole in Hervey Bay-Bundaberg has sparked a fierce backlash from opponents claiming the cards will cause social segregation, stigmatise job seekers and entrench poverty.

“The people of the Hinkler region (Hervey Bay-Bundaberg) are feeling threatened, scared and worried for their financial futures and inclusion in our communities,” Hervey Bay’s Kathryn Wilkes, who has launched an online petition opposing introduction of the Federal Government scheme early next year, said.

The scheme is based on a suggestion by Western Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, that 80 per cent of welfare payments be cashless and only available via an electronic debit card that cannot be used for alcohol or gambling.

“The insults that we cannot manage our funds, that we are all drunks, druggies and pedos are unjust and not true,” Ms Wilkes said.

“The cashless welfare debit card will completely destroy people on so many levels and we don’t have the mental health services to cope with the loss of self and autonomy.

“The card does not care what colour your skin is, your religion, or your circumstance; it is about profits for private business.”

The Guardian, 18 September 2017:

A new research paper has issued a damning assessment of the quality of the report the Turnbull government has been using to promote its cashless welfare card trials, saying the report shows the program is not working.

Janet Hunt, the deputy director of the centre for Aboriginal economic policy research at the Australian National University, says the government has ignored serious flaws in the Orima Research report, which it released this month.

She said the report showed the government’s cashless card trials had not actually improved safety and violence figures in the two trial sites in Ceduna and the East Kimberley, despite that being the point of the card.

Her findings support the work of social researcher Eva Cox, who has already found significant problems with the design of the report, including the way interviews were conducted in Indigenous communities and the ethics of the process.

“Indeed, the authors qualify a number of their apparently positive findings with various caveats, but, at the same time, the evaluation itself has serious flaws, so even these findings are contestable,” Hunt says in her report, The Cashless Debit Card Evaluation: Does it Really Prove Success?

ABC News, 14 September 2017:

A researcher studying the impact of the cashless welfare card has linked the Federal Government's welfare program to the issue of youth suicides in the Kimberley.

Coroner Ros Fogliani is examining the suicides of 13 children and young adults in the Kimberley, and is this week hearing testimony in the town of Kununurra.

Among those to give evidence was Melbourne University researcher Elise Klein, who is midway through a study on the effects of the implementation of the cashless welfare initiative in Ceduna and the west Kimberley.

All of the suicides being examined in the inquest took place before the cashless welfare card trial began in the East Kimberley in April 2016.

But Dr Klein argued the program would add to the disempowerment felt by Aboriginal people in the region.

"It has become a symbol of not having control over one's life and of state intervention over people's lives," she said.

Questioned on her findings so far, Dr Klein said local people and the community as a whole felt weakened by being subjected to the mandatory spending restrictions.

"Maybe the relevance to this inquest is that the kind of atmosphere that this feeds into is extremely disempowering for people.

Dr Klein was scathing of the implementation of the cashless card program, saying there was no proper consultation in Kununurra or Wyndham, and inadequate explanation as to how it worked.

"People were given a manual, that was full of technical language that was difficult to understand, so people had a lot of difficulty using the card," she said.

"When the trial began there was a fair amount of chaos.

"People were directed to a mobile app to check their balance, but some people didn't know how to use the internet, never mind have a mobile phone."

What connects all this unhappiness? Well it’s the SAS Consulting Group of which Larry Anthony is a founding director and part owner through Illalangi Pty Ltd as Trustee for the Anthony Family Trust and Indue Limited a financial services corporation established in 1999.

Anthony is listed as an owner, as well as a contact person for and employee of the SAS Consulting Group on the current NSW Register of Third-Party Lobbyists.

In my opinion this is a blatant work-around of the Australian Government Lobbying Code of Conduct at s8 & s10, because the NSW Lobbying of Government Officials (Lobbyists Code of Conduct) Regulation 2014 allows for more wriggle room.

From 17 February 2005 to 30 October 2013 Larry Anthony sat on the Indue board as a director and, for much of that period he was also Senior Vice President Australia of the National Party.

The Australian Government Register of Lobbyists shows that Indue Limited is one of the 19 clients on whose behalf SAS Consulting lobbies. Indue has been reportedly a client since mid-2014.

Indue Limited has the federal government contract to supply the cashless debit card and associated financial/banking services.

All welfare recipients, excepting age pensioners, have been placed on the cashless debit card in Ceduna SA, Kununurra and Wydham WA.

By January 2018 it is expected that all welfare recipients under 35 years of age who receive unemployment or single parent benefits and live in Goldfields WA or Hervey Bay Qld will also be placed on this income management scheme.

It is likely that within the next five years an est. 24,633 people on Centrelink income management as of 25 March 2016 will also be transferred onto the cashless debit card program.

Larry Anthony can expect to see more media articles in the future which make him uncomfortable, now his relationship with Indue Limited has begun to be scrutinised.

BRIEF BACKGROUND

SAS Consulting Group Pty Ltd talks up Larry Anthony:

Larry has had a distinguished career in both business and politics and is the current President of the National Party, one half of the ruling Coalition Government. 

He is the founding Director of the SAS Group and prior to his current commercial career was a former member of the Australian Parliament and served between 1996- 2004 in the Howard Government. During this period, he held numerous Ministries:  Children and Youth Affairs, Minister for Community Services and Parliamentary Secretary for Trade.  Larry also served on House of Representatives' Standing Committees on Financial Institutions; Public Administration; and Corporations and Securities. 

Larry was the longest serving Minister responsible for Centrelink with an annual budget of over $60 billion and is widely regarded for his achievements in social policy reforms.  In trade, he was responsible for driving export market development programs. 

Larry is the third-generation Anthony family member in the Australian Parliament - the only family in Australian history where each elected member served as Minister of the Crown and collectively served 56 years in the Australian Parliament.

Prior to entering Parliament, Larry was a stockbroker and investment banker with Potter Warburg and Merrill Lynch.

Larry is a professional company director with a keen interest in information technology, finance, media and human services sector.

As Minister for Community Services in 2000 Anthony introduced a Centrelink pilot data matching program which compared data held on welfare recipients with data held by the Australia Taxation Office and the Australian Investment & Securities Commission.

Larry Anthony held the seat of Richmond for the National Party for over eight years and lost it at the federal election on 9 October 2004.

Anthony became National President of the National Party in September 2015.

Larry Anthony's professional profile.

Indue Limited on North Coast Voices at http://northcoastvoices.blogspot.com.au/search?q=indue

#cashlesswelfare on Twitter.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

More evidence that the far-right in politics and industry are determined to drive working class Australians into generational poverty?



Wage fraud, wage freezes, cuts to penalty rates and companies scrapping enterprise agreements will reduce the retirement savings of millions of workers by $100 billion by the time they retire, a report has found.

The report, the Consequences of Wage Suppression for Australia's Superannuation System by the Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work, says the government will pick up more than one third of the cost, equivalent to $37 billion in lost taxes due to lower super contributions and higher age pension payouts.

It estimates that three million people, or one in four workers, have experienced some form of wage suppression, which will adversely impact their super payout.

The author of the report, Jim Stanford, describes wage suppression as an economic "time bomb". He says while individual families are grappling with the immediate impact of wage cuts, the long-term impact when they retire is yet to play out.

[THE CONSEQUENCES OF WAGE SUPPRESSION FOR SUPERANNUATION, p.9]

Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute, Jim Stanford, Ph.D., The Consequences of Wage Suppression for Australia’s Superannuation System, September 2017, excerpt from Summary:

Wages and salaries in Australia’s labour market are exhibiting their weakest growth in the history of the relevant statistics. Hourly wages are growing at less than 2 percent per year, and real wages (adjusted for consumer price inflation) are stagnant or falling. The unprecedented stagnation of wages reflects many factors, including chronic weakness in labour demand and the erosion of traditional wage-setting institutions (such as minimum wages and collective bargaining). But it also reflects, for millions of Australian workers, the aggressive efforts by employers (both private- and public- sector) to deliberately suppress wages below normal levels. These wage-suppression strategies take many forms: from the imposition of temporary wage freezes, to the unilateral termination of enterprise agreements, to the outright theft of wages through below-minimum payments. These pro-active measures to suppress labour incomes, breaking the normal link between labour incomes and labour productivity (which continues to grow at over 1 percent per year1), impose great harm on affected workers, their families, government budgets, and Australia’s macroeconomic performance.
There is another important consequence of these wage suppression strategies that is often not sufficiently understood by workers, employers, policy-makers and regulators: their flow-through impact on Australia’s retirement income system. When workers’ wages are unduly suppressed, then the normal flow of employer contributions into their superannuation accounts is also constrained. They will have smaller superannuation balances when they retire, and will consequently experience a lasting reduction in post-retirement incomes. Moreover, governments will share a significant portion of the resulting damage: they will collect less in taxes on superannuation contributions and investment income, and will pay out more in means-tested Age Pension benefits (since workers’ superannuation incomes will be smaller). These significant, lasting consequences from wage-suppression strategies should be documented and considered. They provide a powerful motive for all stakeholders to challenge employers’ wage-cutting initiatives. They also should be of direct concern to superannuation trustees and administrators – since the capacity of the superannuation capacity of the superannuation system to provide decent, secure retirement incomes for its members is being undermined by this growing pattern of wage suppression.
This report presents results from several quantitative simulations of the impact of wage suppression on superannuation entitlements of affected workers, their long-run retirement incomes, and corresponding fiscal effects on government. The report considers several specific scenarios, corresponding to different instances of pro-active wage suppression strategies that have been experienced by Australian workers in recent years. It traces through the impact of those policies on workers’ wages, superannuation accumulations, and retirement incomes. The simulations also describe the spill-over impacts on government (arising from reduced taxes collected on superannuation contributions and investment income, and increased Age Pension payouts). The simulations confirm that:
* Wage suppression undermines superannuation accumulations by automatically reducing employer contributions. Moreover, the damage is compounded over time due to the subsequent loss of investment income.
* Even temporary wage restraint measures (like temporary wage freezes) have lasting negative impacts on superannuation balances, by altering the trajectory of a worker’s wages for the rest of their career.
* The most dramatic instances of wage suppression – the termination of enterprise agreements by employers, and resulting large wage reductions as workers are placed back on minimum award conditions – can reduce the superannuation balance of a retiring worker by as much as $270,000.
* More modest wage suppressing policies (such as temporary nominal wage freezes, producing real wage reductions that are then sustained through a worker’s remaining years of service) reduce retirement superannuation balances by $30,000 or more.
* Government bears a share of the resulting losses, through both reduced tax collections before affected workers retire, and increased Age Pension payouts after they retire. In the worst-case scenarios, governments can experience fiscal losses of over $50,000 per worker (in real 2017 dollar terms).
* Millions of Australians have been confronted with one or more of these forms of wage suppression from their employers, so the aggregate impacts across the economy are enormous. Based on plausible estimates of the number of workers confronted with each form of wage suppression, the aggregate loss of superannuation balances on retirement (if the pattern of wage suppression is maintained) could ultimately exceed $100 billion (in real 2017 dollars) by the time affected workers retire, and the aggregate fiscal cost to government could reach $37 billion (in real 2017 dollars)………..
1 A recent Department of Finance research paper on productivity trends confirms that labour productivity continues to grow at typical historical rates – advancing at an annual average rate of 1.8 percent over the last five years alone. See Simon Campbell and Harry Withers, “Australian Productivity Trends and the Effect of Structural Change, “ August 28 2017, http://treasury.gov.au/ PublicationsAndMedia/Publications/2017/ Australian-productivity-trends-and-the-effect-of-structuralchange

[THE CONSEQUENCES OF WAGE SUPPRESSION FOR SUPERANNUATION, p.10]

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Under Turnbull Government's new plan "38 out of 44 marine parks will be open to trawling, gillnetting and longlining, 33 will be open to mining, and 42 exposed to the construction of pipelines"



Canberra Times, 17 September 2017:
In the corridors of Parliament House that day, as I met MPs of every stripe, I felt a great sense of promise, even pride. And it seemed for a while such hope was not misplaced. In 2012, after an exhaustive scientific process and wide community consultation, Tony Burke declared a system of marine national parks, one of the biggest and best in the world, the most significant conservation gain in Australian history.
That took courage. Because it put science before politics, prudence ahead of expediency. And it was popular. But as soon as he came to power in 2013 Tony Abbott announced an immediate moratorium on these parks and instigated a review. The purpose was purely political. To delay implementation, corrode consensus and deny the science. A move straight out of the culture warrior's playbook.
After decades of forward-thinking leaders, the nation had fallen into the hands of a man whose loyalties were only to the past. It was a low moment. But Abbott's reign was as brief as it was fruitless. It was a relief to see him replaced in 2015 by a man who'd actually done things, who believed in the future. Malcolm Turnbull did not scorn science. He seemed to understand the value and fragility of our natural estate. So there was new hope the marine parks review would now be expedited and redirected towards real conservation outcomes. With coral reefs bleaching and miners pressing for even more coal ports and seabed to drill, the need for protection had only grown more urgent.
Well, that moment of promise is long gone. Turnbull's period in office has basically been a hostage drama. The bargain he made with powerbrokers rendered him captive to the party's most illiberal wing, and if his performance on climate, energy and marriage equality aren't evidence enough, last month's announcement that marine parks would be slashed beyond all recognition puts it beyond dispute.
The agents of inertia control his government. And what's worse he's looking like a hostage who's begun to identify with his captors. How else to explain his radical lurch backwards on parks? The draft management plans recently released for consultation by Josh Frydenberg don't just signify the gutting of the national system, they represent the largest removal of protection for Australian wildlife in our history. What the government is proposing is a nihilistic act of vandalism. Forty  million hectares of sanctuary will be ripped from the estate. That's like revoking every second national park on land. Under its new plan, 38 out of 44 marine parks will be open to trawling, gillnetting and longlining, 33 will be open to mining, and 42 exposed to the construction of pipelines. In total defiance of the scientific advice upon which the original system was designed, 16 marine parks will now have no sanctuary zones at all.
The science shows that partial or low-level protection simply doesn't work. What the government is putting forward will radically diminish protection of habitat. It will also undermine sustainable regional economic development. What began as a quest for excellence based on the best possible science is now so miserably degraded it's turned the greatest step forward in marine conservation into a regime that doesn't even aspire to be second-rate.
Draft management plans for Australian marine parks/reserves:
                                                                         



South-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves draft management plan

As one South Australian voter put it after reading about the Turnbull Government's intentions; FFS ! These guys are proof that there are no time machines. Otherwise someone from the future would come back and mulch the pr*cks. (quote supplied)

Voters in NSW North Coast electorates should be aware that:
* Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan supported this review and to date has never voted against his party’s position in the House of Representatives. Therefore it is highly likely that he will vote for any government bill which will reduce marine park and marine reserve protections.
*Nationals MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker supported this review and to date has never voted against his party’s position in the House of Representatives. Therefore it is highly likely that he will vote for any government bill which will reduce marine park and marine reserve protections.
* Labor MP for Richmond Justine Elliot does not support a reduction in marine parks and marine reserve protections.

Brief background


The Turnbull government has released draft management plans for the nation's marine parks that amount to an "unprecedented roll-back" of protections, a coalition of 25 environmental groups say.

The long-awaited draft plans were released on Friday and propose changes to the 3.3 million square kilometres of Australia's protected offshore regions expanded in 2012 by the Gillard government.

The area of marine parks open to fishing would jump to 80 per cent from 64 per cent now, if the changes were to pass through parliament, WWF-Australia said.

"This is a huge step backwards for marine protection," Richard Leck, WWF's head of oceans, said. "Australia used to be seen as a global leader in marine conservation. That will no longer be the case if these proposals are implemented."

Other proposed changes would strip Shark and Vema reefs of  marine national park status, while Osprey reef - one of the world's premier dive sites - has lost more than half its protection, Tony Burke, Labor's environment spokesman said.

"Five years ago, Labor make the second largest conservation decision in history. Today the Turnbull Government announced the largest undoing of conservation ever," Mr Burke said….

Of particular concern to the green groups is the Coral Sea Marine Park, where a substantial area previously given the maximum protection had been reduced……

Ms Grady said the government had chosen to ignore the science contained in independent reviews that backed the original zones.

"All Australians will be justifiably distressed to know that science evidence supporting an increase in protections for marine life has been thrown out the window," Darren Kindleysides, director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Centrelink sent out 19,980 incorrect debt notices in just eight months


Australian Parliament, PARLWORK, Question Details:

Question asked of the Minister for Human Services and Liberal MP for Aston Alan Tudge on 31 May 2017:

How many Centrelink clients who were notified of a debt or the likelihood of a debt with Centrelink through its Online Compliance Intervention system, have subsequently had their debt (a) reduced, and (b) cancelled completely.
Could he provide a breakdown of parts (1)(a) and (b) by (a) state and territory, and (b) postcode.

One hundred and three days later the Minister deigned to reply:

THE HON ALAN TUDGE MP - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
1(a), 1(b) and 2(a) The number of debts reduced to zero and reduced but not to zero in total, by State and Territories as at 31 March 2017:
State
Debt Reduced to Zero1
Debt Reduced but not Zero1, 2
ACT
                                100
                  169
NSW
                            2,234
              3,644
NT
                                  40
                    79
QLD
                            1,665
              2,718
SA
                                630
              1,142
TAS
                                247
                  397
VIC
                            1,894
              3,306
WA
                                646
              1,069
Total
                            7,456
            12,524
¹The month the change is reported is the month the reassessment or review of the debt was completed which may be different to the month the debt was raised.
2Debts can be reassessed multiple times. This is recorded each time as a reassessment in the appropriate month.

2(b) The breakdown by postcode is at Attachment A. To protect individuals’ privacy, cell sizes of less than five are represented as “<5”.

What it has taken the Turnbull Government so long to admit is that 37.31 per cent of the 19,980 incorrect debt notices sent out between 1 July 2016 and 31 March 2017 were manifestly false debts.

In the same period a further 62.68 per cent of the 19,980 incorrect debt notices had amounts owed reduced – sometimes to under $20.

What these figures do not reveal is the total number of people who received a debt notice over these eight months and the number who paid the original amount listed on the debt notice because they were afraid to challenge Centrelink even though they personally doubted that any money was owed.

Nor is there any indication of how many Centrelink clients were referred to aggressive private debt collectors by the department.

What is known was that 1,569,911 people were sent debt notices in the 2016 calendar year alone [Commonwealth Ombudsman—Department of Human Services: Centrelink’s automated debt raising and recovery system].

Of these 20 per cent were admitted by the Dept. of Social Services to be false debts and 80 per cent were recoded as debts against a Centrelink client resulting in $300 million repaid by welfare recipients over a six month period [Minister for Social Security and Liberal MP for Christian Porter, transcript, 4 January 2017].

A total of 216,000 debt notices were generated in the three months leading up to Christmas 2016 and 133,078 alleged debts were recovered.

The Turnbull Government expects to claw back a total of $4 billion from welfare recipients by 2021.

The number of suicides as a result of a Centrelink debt notice is also unknown to date, although at least one recorded death had Centrelink debt as a contributing factor.