Sunday, 30 June 2013


Media Release.


Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says a new report highlights the need for the Newman Government to boost its efforts to foster infrastructure projects.
“The Premier and Treasurer continue to talk about their government being ‘an enabler’ and not ‘a doer’, but the price we are all paying is higher unemployment and the prospect of inadequate or rundown public infrastructure in years to come,” Mr Pitt said.
“A case in point is the Brisbane cross-river rail project that the Newman Government is refusing to entertain despite the project having received a federal funding commitment of $715 million — a commitment the federal Coalition parties refuse to endorse."
“Not only is this a vital project for the south-east corner’s public transport needs, it would generate hundreds of jobs.”
Mr Pitt said the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and BIS Shrapnel Civil Infrastructure Metric for the March Quarter 2013 — based on information from Australia's largest civil construction companies — showed a fall in investment across Australia in public infrastructure since 2010.
“The former Labor state government knew the value of investing in major infrastructure,” he said.
“But the Newman Government from its first day in office has done nothing but criticise the former government’s strategy — a strategy that is still delivering major projects such as revamped public hospitals in regional centres and the south-east."
“It was this investment in infrastructure that helped create or save jobs in the global financial crisis while also providing facilities for future generations."
"The construction sector - other than LNG - is contracting and there is no plan from this Government to develop catalyst infrastructure to support the economy beyond an office tower for the Premier and his Ministers, and projects initiated by the previous government."
"Infrastructure spending is $1 billion lower in 2016-17 than in the out year under the previous government and there is not a single additional dollar towards new skilling or apprentice and trainee initiatives."
“It has done nothing to stimulate the construction industry and create jobs in regional Queensland."
“It is no wonder that under the Newman Government our jobless rate is hovering around the 6% level which has not been seen since the global financial crisis,” Mr Pitt said.

Friday, 28 June 2013






27 June 2013


KELLY: Penny Wong, good morning, thanks for joining us.
WONG: Good morning, Fran. Good to be with you.
KELLY: Senator Wong, you supported Julia Gillard for a long time now – who did you vote for last night?
WONG: Fran, as you know I have been a strong supporter of Julia Gillard. She is a remarkable woman – a remarkable woman. A great Labor champion and she’s changed the nation. Whether it’s through transforming schools, transforming our economy, through a carbon price, delivering DisabilityCare to Australians with a disability. And, as our first female Prime Minister, she’s also changed the nation. And that’s a position which made her the target of unprecedented personal attacks – both implicitly and explicitly supported by the Opposition. She is also a friend.
But, ultimately, I had to weigh that personal loyalty against loyalty to the Labor Party and to the people we represent. I had to decide who I thought would offer the best contest at the next election against Tony Abbott – a man who I don’t believe is worthy to be Prime Minister of this nation. So, last week, I’ve been privately weighing up those two loyalties and regrettably came to the view that they were no longer aligned.
So, yesterday I made the personal decision that I could no longer support Prime Minister Gillard. I met with her to advise her of that fact and it was the most difficult decision of my political life. But, ultimately, I believed I had to do what I thought was in the best interests of the Labor Party and, through that, the best interests of the nation.
KELLY: So, why in the end was there one thing … when you said you were weighing it up … why, in the end, did you shift your loyalty from Julia Gillard to Kevin Rudd?
WONG: Well, you know, there’s never one thing. But I came to the view, as I’ve outlined, that ultimately Kevin Rudd would offer the strongest contest against Tony Abbott at the next election. And, as I said, we’re a Labor Government, a Labor Party. We represent a great many people in this country and I think Australia is a better place for Labor Governments and for this Government. And ultimately that had to be my first priority. I accept that there are other colleagues who made a different decision.
KELLY: How did Julia Gillard respond when you went to see her privately and tell her this?
WONG: That conversation is private. But I will say that she always, including in that conversation, demonstrated enormous dignity and enormous class, as I think has been on display particularly in her resignation speech last night. I also would like to say something about Wayne Swan. I’ve served with Wayne as Finance Minister and him as Treasurer – he’s been a great Treasurer. He’s steered this country’s economy through some stormy waters and he’s made an outstanding contribution to Labor.
KELLY: You said you deliberated on this decision for a while. Were you lobbied? Did you speak to Kevin Rudd? Did he or his supporters come and lobby you?
WONG: At no stage did I speak to Kevin Rudd. And, at no stage prior to my discussion with the Prime Minister did I indicate which way I would vote or anything other than support for the Prime Minister to anybody.
KELLY: So, Leader of the Government in the Senate is not a reward?
WONG: Absolutely not. And in fact, as you know, I stood with the unanimous support of the Caucus, including Julia Gillard.
KELLY: Kevin Rudd has been rewarded; I mean, some would see him as stalking the Labor leadership for the past three years. And many within your Party blame Kevin Rudd for the damaging leaks that derailed the campaign in 2010 that saw Labor ending up with a minority Government – that’s how some people see it. Why is he now being rewarded?
WONG: Well, ultimately, there’s always commentary about the past and this hasn’t been – in terms of the internals of the Labor Party – our finest period. Having said that, despite that we’ve delivered some extraordinarily important reforms which are making a difference to many people in this country and are making a difference to Australians. But ultimately people have to make a decision about what was in the best interests of the Party and now is the time for us to unite. We have a job to do and I think uniting has been made much more possible and will occur because of the dignity and grace and loyalty to the Labor Party that Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have shown.
KELLY: Kevin Rudd says he has learned a lot; he has learned humility. Have you seen signs of change in Kevin Rudd?
WONG: Well, I haven’t spoken to Kevin prior to the ballot …so I think his character is something that he can talk about.
KELLY: Did his shift on same sex marriage have any influence on your decision?
WONG: No, it did not.
KELLY: What can Kevin Rudd do for Labor that Julia Gillard couldn’t?
WONG: Well, I think the issue here is what can the Party do? And what the Party has to do is unite behind the new Leader and provide the strongest contest and strongest set of alternatives to Tony Abbott at the next election. I do not believe Tony Abbott is the sort of man who should lead this country. I think he has views that are not consistent with modern Australia. I do not believe he has any understanding of principles of fairness which are so dear to Australians. And that is our job. To go out there and argue for those policies and those principles – those Labor principles.
KELLY: Julia Gillard was Australia’s first female Prime Minister. How hard was it for you to vote against Australia’s first female Prime Minister? Here you are, a senior woman in a Labor Cabinet.
WONG: And a feminist. And that’s been extremely hard. But, ultimately, as I said, you have to weigh your loyalties and your different principles. And I do not believe the feminist principles which I hold dear would be served by Tony Abbott becoming Prime Minister with the views that he has expressed on women and women’s capacity and because of the ways in which he has implicitly allowed the sexism in this country that we have seen on display. I do not believe a leopard changes his spots.
KELLY: In terms of the sexism which has been on display, as you say, the Prime Minister made some reference to that last night too – the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in her speech after the vote. She said: “The reaction to being the first woman Prime Minister does not explain everything about my Prime Ministership, nor does it explain nothing. It explains some things and it’s for the nation to think about those things in a sophisticated way”. Do you think the reaction to having a female Prime Minister … how much of it does explain about Julia Gillard’s position in the polls with the electorate?
WONG: I think Julia put it very well – “it explains some things, but not everything”. And I think her suggestion that we collectively consider as a nation the response and, in particular, the way in which things were said, the sorts of views and personal attacks that became legitimised, we should think about whether that is what we want for our national politics. As Prime Minister Rudd said last night, that is not what we want for our national politics. We should have a very different approach to our political life and I hope that we do consider that.
KELLY: Julia Gillard also said last night that she thinks her doing this job will make it easier for the next woman. You could argue it could make it harder, given the reaction?
WONG: Well, it depends what we do with it. I think she’s right. The important thing about being the first is that there’s another, and then another.
KELLY: Just back to what happens now: Kevin Rudd needs to replace a lot of people in his front bench. There will be a reshuffle. Do you expect to be Finance Minister?
WONG: I’ll serve in whatever capacity Kevin wishes me to. I’d anticipate that would be in this portfolio, but if he wants me to do another job, I’ve always served every Labor Leader -  I’ve served under in the capacity they’ve asked me to.
KELLY: Have you had discussions on that yet?
WONG: Not on this issue.
KELLY: Penny Wong, how does Labor heal from here?
WONG: Well, I think we should, I suppose, take note of and look to the principle that was set last night by Prime Minister Gillard. Because I think what she said and how she approached with enormous dignity an extraordinarily difficult evening really is a call to unity across our Party which all of us should heed and I believe we can.
KELLY: You obviously feel bad about this decision, in some part of you. I mean, you’re troubled by it …
WONG: I feel emotional … because you don’t easily change your support and you don’t easily change your support for someone you regard as a friend and that has been a difficult decision.
KELLY: How hard will it be for Labor to get back on the front foot now and start getting back on with governing under a new Leader?
WONG: Well, I think we can do it. And I have great faith in my colleagues. We have all come here to this Parliament because we believe in the Labor Party and what Labor Governments do for Australia – that we make Australia a better place. And that’s what drives us. And that is what will drive us in the days ahead.
KELLY: Penny Wong, thank you very much for joining us on Breakfast.
WONG: Good to speak with you.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

An Irishmans view on Queenslands Coercion Act.

Brisbane September 15, 1894.



A Coercion Act for Queensland! Surely it cannot be. Mayhap the people are mad, or perhaps I am dreaming – dreaming of the old days of pain and SORROW, agony and despair, in the old land, where coercion is rampant, oppression triumphant, and Liberty – the brightest gem in all the world – is stricken unto death. But alas, the kindly offices of a table fork pieced into my leg assures me I awake and that the grim horror of coercion is a fact. O' Queensland are the liberties won through ages of suffering and rivers of blood to be stranged in a night. Is the delicate flower that perfumes and beautifies our life to be destroyed by a poisonous weed imported from other lands. It is not to be, I hope, while brave hearts and sturdy soldiers of freedom exist to win and maintain for mankind the priceless boon of liberty without which life is shorn of its glory, its dignity and its joy.

* * *


Three months for whistling “Harvey Duff,” three months for the “Pleerer and the Goat;” six months for “winking at a pig;” six months as a “ Land Leaguer;” twelve months for “resisting the bailiff;” the plank bed, the baton wounds, the bayonet stabs. How it all comes back to me; the fierce and bitter passions of a raid, the wild joy of a triumph. I remember it all with mingled joy and indignation. The name of coercion opens up the old wounds, and I find the old bitter curse rise to my lips as I think of my sorely stricken country whose gallant sons sought in other lands that freedom it were perilous to think of at home. With what spirit Queenslanders will meet this drug I do not know. To many of them it will be new, but to Irishmen it is old; they have experienced the cruelty of it, the memory of it is stamped in burning letters upon their minds never to be erased. The fire that blazed in their hearts against it in the land they left still burns as bright as ever. No Irishman will cheer the hell hounds of oppression that have desolated their own land and made them exiles.

* * *


No Irishman will do it, I said, but what of their descendants? I contemplated with aversion one who says “his ancestors were Irish and be is proud of it,” and yet approves the curse of his father's country. He is proud of Ireland and Irishmen. There are two Irelands, two races of Irishmen, with two histories, clear, distinct, antithetical. To which of the two does the Attorney General belong? Dublin Castle or College Green! Police or the people? Patriots or informers? Where are the records of the family to be found? In the “Rogue's Gallery” or “Speeches from the Dock?” In the National Library or the secret drawers of Dublin Castle? The Hon. Gentleman cannot belong to both. The two are as distinct as the poles. To which does he belong? Let his actions speak for themselves. He approves of Coercion. He has resurrected “Buckshot” Forster and “Bludgeon” Balfour in his native land. He stigmatises the opponents of the poison that has blighted Ireland “criminals,” “incendiaries,” “sympathisers with murder,” “brigands,” and other terms of endearment that has characterised the oppressors, the betrayers, the bitter and implacable foes of Irish liberty since the struggle for freedom began. All of this shows, the whole attitude of the hon. Gentleman shows to which of the two Irelands he belongs. I belong to the other.

* * *


Those who have resisted coercion have adorned Ireland; those who have assisted it have disgraced her. No suffering, no calumny, no punishment could daunt the heroic souls who struggled against every aggression. The Tones, the Grattans, the Emmets, the O'Connells, the Mitchells, the Parnells, constitute her gradeur and her glory. Their life's work causes the bosom of the true Irishmen to leave with holy emotion and to bow his head in profound veneration when their names are mentioned. But the work of the other race, the Castereaghs, Clares, Reynolds, Armstrongs, Talbots, Keoghs, Sadliers, Peter the packers, and the Piggots are her shame and dishonour and only live to excite the scorn of all the world. Let the attorney General stand as patron saint to the imported Irish curse; let renegade Irishmen forge; the noblest traditions of their race and stand beside the persecutor; let those who will support the despotism of unbridled power. I elect to renew the old battle to preserve those liberties – the defence of which – has made me an exile from my native land.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Australian Education Bill Passes The Parliament

Media Release.

Prime Minister, Minister for School Education, Parliamentary Secretary for School Education




A fair funding system, school improvement reforms and extra funding for Australian schools are now enshrined in law following the passage of the Australian Education Bill through the Senate today.

This is a great day for Australian schools, students and families. For the first time, we have a needs-based funding model for schools across all sectors, one that will ensure our classrooms are properly resourced for generations to come.

The new National Plan for School Improvement applies to all government schools in participating states, and non-government schools in all states. It delivers:

  • A school funding model based on individual student need, with a per student amount and extra money for schools and students that need more support;
  • Extra resources over the next six years to bring schools up to their Schooling Resource Standard, plus better rates of indexation; and
  • School improvement reforms that will help every Australian student get a great education, and help take Australian schools to the top five in the world by 2025.

For states and territories that have signed up to the National Plan for School Improvement, today’s Senate vote guarantees extra funding and higher indexation from the Commonwealth over the next six years.

New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT have already signed up to our plan. Every school and every sector in these jurisdictions will benefit from extra funding, delivered under a needs-based system, as well as higher rates of indexation.

Nationally, all non-government schools will be funded under the new, fairer funding system outlined in the Bill.

As a result over 60% of students in almost 60% schools across the country will now benefit from their share of the $15 billion on offer to all states and territories if they sign up to a fairer school funding model and school improvement reforms.

National Plan for School Improvement

All participating schools will benefit from school reforms aimed at lifting student results and providing a high-quality, high-equity education for all Australians.

School sectors taking part in the National Plan have committed to implementing these reforms in five key areas: quality teaching, quality learning, greater autonomy, more transparency, and meeting student need.

For schools and students, this means:
  • Higher entry standards for the teaching profession
  • More training and support for teachers
  • More individual support for students
  • School improvement plans for every school
  • More information for parents and the community about school funding and performance

Non-participating states

All states and territories will be asked to sign up to implementing education reforms in the five main areas, and to commit to our goal of being in the top five schooling countries by 2025.

The Australian Education Bill also sets out Commonwealth funding arrangements for non-participating states and territories. The Commonwealth will provide current levels of school funding to state and territory governments, indexed to meet rising costs.

We have been clear, however, there will be no windfall gain for non-participating states and territories.

Government school sectors in non-participating states will also miss out on the extra funding we have put on the table. Non-government schools in these states will receive their share of extra Commonwealth funding, but will miss out on guaranteed extra funding from their state or territory government.

This makes it even more urgent that all jurisdictions sign up to our plan by June 30.

We don’t want to see schools and students in these states missing out because of a decision by their state or territory government not to commit to extra funding.

Next steps

We will continue to negotiate with remaining states and territories ahead of the June 30 deadline, because we want to secure the best deal possible for every Australian school and student.

Detailed implementation plans are being developed with participating sectors which set out how the new funding model will work, how the extra funding will be phased in, and how school improvement reforms will be implemented on the ground.

These will be released when finalised and will provide further details of funding available to schools from next year.

The National Plan for School Improvement, including the new, fairer funding approach, will be in place in our classrooms from January 1, 2014.

From next year, there will be more money, higher standards, and better results for Australian students.

Opposition Offer To Host Crime Summit: Mulherin

Media Release.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin says if the Newman Government isn’t interested in discussing ways to fix the Gold Coast’s crime situation, the Opposition will step in and host the community summit called for by Gold Coast Tourism and the Queensland Police Union.
“The Opposition wants to work constructively with everyone to develop solutions to this issue, so if the Newman Government was to fulfil its responsibilities and host a summit, we would welcome it and would seek to be involved,” Mr Mulherin said.
“However, if the Newman Government – with nine MPs in the region including Ministers Jann Stuckey and John-Paul Langbroek – continue to sit on their hands, we will step in."
“Quite clearly, the issues facing the Gold Coast, particularly in relation to bikie gangs and organised crime, have reached the point where strong action needs to be taken."
“While the statistics do show an increase in crime, especially violent crime, there is no doubt that the region and the economy is hurting from the broader perception that the Gold Coast is suffering from a crime wave."
“For the biggest non-capital city in the country that relies heavily on the tourist industry and is hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2018, we need to tackle this perception – real or otherwise – head on."
“We need to get all the experts in a room – police, legal experts, criminologists, and others – and discuss new strategies to fight crime."
“Are there enough resources on the ground? Are the policing strategies being rolled out effective enough? Are there strong enough deterrents in place?"
“As legislators, do we need to introduce special powers to in order give confidence to Gold Coast residents and the tourists that power this local economy?"
“It’s time we all worked together and put everything on the table in the best interests of the Gold Coast.”

Driscoll protected by new LNP laws.

Queensland Council of Unions
Working with Queensland unions who represent over 370,000 workers in Queensland
on industrial, political and social justice issues

Media Release.

25 June 2013

Today’s media revelations about credit card usage within an employer organisation
expose how the LNP’s new industrial relations laws are designed to protect the likes of Redcliffe MP Scott Driscoll. The Courier Mail today reported that Scott Driscoll, former LNP Member for Redcliffe and former chief of the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association, had allegedly used the Association’s Diners’ Club credit card while he was an MP.
Legislation recently passed by the LNP now requires employee organisations such as unions to publish credit card statements but specifically exempts employer organisations such as the QRTSA.Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams said it was a clear example of how the LNP’s hatred of unions and worker representatives had evolved into unfair and outrightly dangerous legislation.
“The public deserves to know why the new laws exempt the only person in any
Queensland industrial organisation facing allegations of alleged corruption."
“Unions have no problem with reasonable measures designed to ensure accountability and transparency. But laws need to be applied to all industrial organisations, both employers and unions, to ensure fairness and transparency."
“Now we understand why the Attorney-General was so eager to exempt employer organisations from disclosure provisions. It was to keep them out of the sunlight.” Mr Driscoll donated $49,000 to the LNP just months before the 2012 election campaign. There are currently several separate investigations into Mr Driscoll’s conduct as an LNP MP and while running the QRTSA.The Industrial Relations (Transparency and Accountability of Industrial Organisations) And Other Acts Amendment Bill 2013 covers employer and employee organisations, including trade unions and employer groups.
The legislation tabled earlier this month will retrospectively require unions to make financial information available to the public – but employer organisations will be exempted from having to release credit card information.
“Disclosure of credit card use is the only difference, which immediately raises the question about why this is the case,” he said. Queensland unions are continuing with their High Court challenge specifically against those provisions which restrict the rights of unions to publicly campaign on unpopular government policies.
“Unions have had the courage to stand up to the Newman Government and hold them to account for their record of broken promises and their electorally unpopular plan for privatisation. Now unions are being singled out for special treatment,” he said.

CONTACT: John Battams 0418 876 283 / Brett Young 0400 080 099

Extract from Queensland's 1987 Fitzgerald Inquiry: The Bundaberg Maternity Hospital – Citra.

Section: 2.4.1. Political Donations.

Part: (a)

An election was held in October, 1983. Up until then, the National Party and the Liberal Party had been in government in coalition for more than 25 years, but that year bitter divisions had arisen. Bjelke-Petersen was determined to crush his erstwhile associates and achieve sufficient seats for the National Party to govern alone. Ultimately, he succeeded after two successful Liberal candidates defected to the National Party and continued membership of Cabinet in November after the election. But in the period leading up to the election, there was need for a concentrated and expensive advertising campaign. A large amount of money was required.

That year, the Bundaberg Hospital Board had called tenders for the construction of the Bundaberg Maternity Hospital and had received 20 tenders.On 8 September, the Board’s architects recommended a fixed price tender which had been submitted by Evans Harch Constructions Pty. Ltd.. One of the other tenders had been submitted by a member of the Citra group of companies, and had included rise and fall provisions.

On 13 September, the Board advised the Under Secretary of the Department of Health that it recommended acceptance of the Evans Harch tender.On 3 October, the Minister for Health, the Hon. Angelo Pietro Dante Bertoni, M.L.A., recommended that the contract be awarded to Evans Harch subject to the approval of the Department of Works, which was urgently reviewing the tenders but was expected to endorse the recommendation of the Board. Cabinet deferred its decision for a week.

On the same day, 3 October, Citra gave Lyons $150,000 in cash to be paid to the National Party.

Lyons delivered the cash to Sparkes, the President of the National Party since 1970 and a knight since 1979.

At the time, Lyons was a trustee of the National Party as well as Bjelke-Petersen’s principal confidant and a fund-raiser for the party. Sparkes said that he had no knowledge of the identity of the donor, although Lyons said that Sparkes was told the name on this and on other occasions.

Both Bjelke-Petersen and Lyons denied that Bjelke-Petersen was told of this and other donations which Citra made.

However, the representative of Citra, whom Lyons knew well, had been introduced by him to Bjelke-Petersen and, according to Lyons, from time to time he conveyed the “best wishes” of Citra to Bjelke-Petersen, who also received advice from Citra “. . . on certain matters . . .”.

On 7 October, Bertoni publicly announced that the contract had been awarded to Evans Harch.On 10 October, Cabinet had before it a Works Department appraisal recommending the Evans Harch contract, and there had been a comment by the then Minister for Works and Housing, the Hon. Claude Alfred Wharton, M.L.A., that “fixed price is better”. However, Cabinet again deferred its decision.

On 17 October, Cabinet determined that officers from the Premier’s, Treasury, Works and Health Departments should meet to discuss the evaluation of tenders, and a meeting took place the following day.

The representative of the Premier’s Department questioned whether the Evans Harch tender complied with requirements which had been specified. Others, including the representative of the Department of Works,were then and subsequently consistently of the view that the practice which had been followed was customary and that it was appropriate for the contract to be awarded to Evans Harch.

On 23 October, Citra gave Lyons another $100,000 in cash, which was again passed on to Sparkes.

On 24 October, on Bjelke-Petersen’s oral submission, Cabinet awarded the contract for the construction of the Bundaberg Maternity Hospital to Citra.It has been estimated that the cost of the hospital paid to Citra, approximately $2,562,000, was $65,000 more than would have been payable had the Evans Harch tender been accepted.

The Bundaberg Hospital Board sought an explanation for the decision to award the contract to Citra without avail.

US president Barack Obama lays out new US plan to fight climate change

Extract from ABC News 24 Website:

US president Barack Obama has laid out a broad new plan to fight climate change, using executive powers to get around "flat Earth" science deniers who have blocked action in Congress.
Mr Obama called for new restrictions on existing and new power plants to curb carbon emissions, pledged to push new generation clean energy sources and to lead a fresh global effort to stem global warming.
Officials said the plan would allow the United States to meet a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020, a pledge Mr Obama made at the inconclusive Copenhagen summit in 2009.

 Read the new plan here

The president argued that Americans across the country were already paying the "price of inaction" against climate change, describing 2012 as the warmest year in human history, which parched farmlands in the US heartland.
"As a president, as a father, and as an American, I am here to say we need to act," he said, in a speech delivered in the sweltering early afternoon heat outside Georgetown University, with an eye on his political legacy.
Mr Obama said he had no patience for climate change deniers, including many in Congress, who dispute the science holding that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to a dangerously warming planet.
"We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society," he said.
"Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it is not going to protect you from the coming storm."

Keystone pipeline put on notice

Mr Obama also touched on the Keystone XL pipeline, which is designed to carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to the US Gulf Coast and has become a cause celebre for environmentalists.
He warned the project, currently under state department review to determine whether it is in the US national interest, should not be approved if it contributes to global warming.
"Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution," Mr Obama said.
The president is widely expected to approve the long-delayed project when it reaches his desk. The state department has already concluded in a draft report that it would not significantly harm the environment.
Environmentalists, however, insist the pipeline would lead to the expansion of tar sands extraction in Alberta - a process they say creates the "dirtiest" oil on Earth.
The president's plan is based on a three-pronged approach: cutting carbon pollution in the US, mitigating the impact of climate change, and seeking international action to address it.

No support for coal-fired power plants abroad

Mr Obama committed to withdrawing support for coal-fired power plants abroad and offered to discuss new initiatives with big emitters like India and China.
He directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to write rules to impose new standards for carbon emissions on new and existing power plants.
The plan calls for $US8 billion in loan guarantees to support investments in innovative technologies and aims for a 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency in commercial, industrial and residential buildings.
Some opponents of his approach have warned the plan could result in older coal-fired plants being taken offline and may thereby raise electricity prices for consumers, which could disproportionately hurt the poor.
Officials counter that the plan will reduce the amount of electricity used thereby reducing fuel bills.
The specifics of much of his plan were unclear, and many of Mr Obama's new rules could face court challenges that would delay their implementation.
The president will be using the executive powers of his office since Congress - where there is widespread skepticism of climate change science and fear about the economic impact of mitigation efforts - has refused to act.
Mr Obama also set a goal of reducing carbon pollution by three billion metric tons by 2030 - a figure equivalent to more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the US energy sector.
Republicans have accused Mr Obama of waging a "war on coal" that would slap onerous regulations and unreasonable environmental targets on power stations.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Pyne, you’re wrong again: schools will lose money under Coalition

Christopher Pyne once again confirmed that Tony Abbott’s Coalition would be a $16 billion disaster for schools.
He has again pledged to keep the current broken school funding model that would short-change students and fail to deliver new money to schools.
He said:
“We will keep the status quo in terms of school funding for at least a year … We’ll keep the AGSRC (Average Government School Recurrent Costs) indexation rate…”
[Christopher Pyne, doorstop interview - June 24, 2013]
The status quo is the problem. The AGSRC indexation rate is the problem.
“The status quo would see NSW worse off and what essentially the federal Coalition is saying is the status quo.”
[NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, SMH – May 25, 2013]
The current broken indexation rate funding has declined and will continue to, our children will be short changed and Australia will be left behind.
Schools would lose more than $16 billion over the next six years under the system Mr Pyne wants to keep.
He doesn’t understand how the current school funding model operates. His claim that retaining the broken funding model would mean no school would be worse off does not stand up to scrutiny:
“… [this] means that no school can be worse off and we’re the only political party that can promise that no school will be worse off.” [doorstop interview - June 24, 2013]
The truth is if we keep the current model, schools will lose money as states continue to cut funding to schools and indexation goes backwards.
Commonwealth indexation for schools is now 3.9 per cent and is expected to fall to 3 per cent next year. But under the National Plan, we are prepared to lock in a higher rate of indexation – at 4.7 per cent – along with extra funding to make sure every school has the resources it needs to provide the best education for students.
Under the Coalition, there would be no new money for schools.
They plan to stick to a flawed school funding model that the independent Gonski review found is unfair, lacks transparency and is leaving too many schools and students behind.
Not only is Mr Pyne not offering schools one cent in additional funding – he is promising them a system that could see the overall funding for schools go backwards.
Our plan is supported by schools, parents and experts and will deliver a new, needs-based funding system and school improvement reforms like higher teaching standards and more local decision-making.

Peter Garrett AM
Federal Member for Kingsford Smith
Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth

BUSH BETRAYAL - 33 Power stations and more than 160 jobs set to be privatised without a mandate

Media Release.

160 Jobs to go, many in Indigenous communities

22 June 2013

The Electrical Trades Union has described the latest announcement by the government that it intends to plough full steam ahead with the privatisation of isolated state - owned power station assets, “as a low act and a gross betrayal of trust”
State Secretary Peter Simpson said the decision to plough ahead with recommendation 29 of the recently released Independent Review Panel Report is a blatant privatisation of state owned assets and more than 160 jobs including those of many local Indigenous workers who work in remote island communities.
This is a low act even for this government, they said they would not sell assets without a mandate, yet they are full steam ahead into selling 33 isolated power station assets currently owned by the Queensland public” Mr. Simpson said.
He pointed to the ongoing lies of the government and accused them of treating the Queensland public like mushrooms.
Back on January 18 Treasure Nicholls’ said in The Courier Mail on the subject of electricity assets We remain committed to that position: no sales without a mandate from the people” and Newman himself reiterated that point in April 30 where the Brisbane Times reported “The state government has held the position they would not sell assets without seeking a mandate since before the last election. For the first time Mr Newman has completely ruled out taking a policy of selling energy assets to the 2016 electionyet here we are just days after the final IRP report hit the deck and they are lying through their teeth”
In a further sign of bad faith the government has allowed just two weeks to ram through consultation with a view to have a final decision by July 7. The Union lodged a dispute with Fair Work Australia on Thursday, that hearing will proceed at 2.30;pm Monday 24th June in Brisbane.
We thought the government’s decision to look at closing more than 30 Ergon Depots throughout regional and remote Queensland was cutting the bush adrift but this is a scorched earth scenario. Communities from Birdsville to Thursday Island will have their power stations privatised and their jobs outsourced; it’s a betrayal of the bush”
The government is treating rural communities with utter contempt they are steamrolling community concern and ramming through destructive policies that will decimate regional and remote communities”
For further information or interview contact
Stuart Traill 0430 072 049
Peter Simpson – State Secretary 0419 721 041
Andrew Irvine - Media Officer 0448633858

Monday, 24 June 2013

Hume Highway Duplication: Job Done!

Media Release.

Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport

SUN 23 JUNE 2013


After half a century of continuous construction and the investment of billions of dollars, a modern fully duplicated Hume Highway is at last a reality – a significant nation building achievement.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay today joined with local community at Holbrook in southern NSW to celebrate this historic event and inspect the town’s newly built bypass, the final stage in the upgrade of this iconic road.
The Bypass will open to traffic next month.
Rebuilding the 808 kilometre Hume Highway has been a massive engineering endeavour, one made more challenging by the vast and varied landscape through which it travels.
As well as duplicating the entire road, the project also involved removing some 90 million cubic metres of earth, erecting 205 new bridges, building 68 new interchanges and planting millions of trees.  And along with Holbrook, the Highway has been
re-routed around 49 towns.
Even more remarkably, it is estimated that as many as 130,000 Australians at some point worked onsite transforming the Highway.  For some this project has been a life’s work.  In fact, one of the workers now putting the finishing touches on the Holbrook Bypass first started working on the Hume back in 1972.
The end product of all that labour is a modern 21st century highway.
In practical terms, the upgrade has reduced travel times between Sydney and Melbourne by around three hours and made those journeys far safer.  Indeed, along just the NSW section of the Highway fatalities have declined dramatically from 71
in 1976 to 4 so far this year.
What’s more, the Highway is now fit for purpose as one of Australia’s busiest
transport routes.  It is now able to carry more goods with fewer delays, speeding up the movement of freight along the eastern seaboard and boosting national productivity.
In addition to today’s Community Day, a new interactive website has been created to mark the completion of the upgrade:
As well as providing a unique insight into the history of this vital road, the ‘Celebrating a Momentous Journey’ website also gives everyone the opportunity to record their memories about this iconic road.
Such personal reflections and anecdotes, together with videos and photos dating back to as early as 1876, will help make this website a valuable resource for anyone interested in tracking the history of the Hume Highway from dirt track to what it is today.
Without a doubt, it has been a momentous journey.
The Highway closely follows the path first taken by European explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell during their successful 1824 expedition to find an alternate inland route from Sydney to Port Phillip, the site of modern day Melbourne.  Work on its northern section between Picton and the Goulburn Plains begun in 1819 on the orders of Australia’s original nation builder, Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

Address to CEDA.

Media Release.

Prime Minister


Welcome to Parliament House.
Thank you for coming here to build on CEDA’s stewardship of detailed and serious discussion about the state of the Australian economy and its future.
Your presence here this week is not only very important, it is very timely, so I’m particularly pleased to join you first up today.
Three weeks ago the National Accounts for the March quarter of this year were released.
They were solid – they showed our economy is growing and stable and strong – they were good news.
The National Accounts reflected the economy’s underlying stability and strength and our status as a leading nation – yes, in a mixed world environment and yes, with some complex transitions underway.
Solid growth at 2.5 per cent for the year.
Household savings at over 10 per cent.
New business investment still around fifty-year highs as a share of GDP, at 17.5 per cent.
Productivity growth now above trend at 2 per cent.
Net exports making their strongest contribution to growth in four years.
If I can speak candidly, the subsequent discussion has been marked by some strikingly misguided commentary.
I’m not talking here about criticism of the Government’s economic policies – not at all – I’m referring to glaring misstatements about the economy itself.
If “irrational exuberance” has an opposite it’s probably “unreasonable pessimism” and we’ve witnessed that in some quarters these past three weeks.
I want to address that in some detail this morning but first I want to be clear on why I think it’s worth doing.
Simply put, your presence here in Parliament House this week presents you with a special opportunity to bring to the national economic debate the “correction we have to have”.
You can bring to the national public discussion an understanding of the facts, an interrogation of the policy demands that the facts impose on us, an understanding that the benefits of long-term reform are felt precisely over that long-term, and crucially you can present a well-founded confidence in the Australian economy.
I know you will have rigorous and vigorous policy debate and I absolutely welcome critical discussion of the Government’s policy approach.
But I know you want to hear opinion based on facts.
So that’s what I’m asking you to do while you are here – get all the facts on the table, discuss the real policy challenges, and then challenge the negative economic sentiment that is around in some quarters.
Where have the pessimists gone wrong?
First, some reporting has neglected important specific facts about the quarterly figures.
Two particular features would have given Australians some interesting insights on where the economy is headed.
New dwelling investment over the year rose by 10.2 per cent – the strongest annual growth in ten years, further evidence that the non-resource sectors of the economy picking up.
Non-rural commodity export volumes were up 13.2 per cent over the year.
This ramp up largely drove the rise in export volumes – and it is a sign that the production phase of the mining boom we have spoken about for some time is now starting to come through.
These are important signs that the transitions we planned for in the Budget are now underway – yet they went barely remarked.
Second, the most irresponsible pessimists have tossed around the “r” word.
Something not so much sinister as silly, a claim I’m frankly somewhat reluctant to repeat, even in order to contradict it, lest I give it weight.
But consider this.
For the third time in just five years, one leading firm of economists predicted a 20 per cent chance that the Australian economy will actually shrink for two quarters in a row.
Another then quoted a 25 per cent chance that growth would halt completely.
Now as Jessica Irvine has pointed out in a column for News Ltd publications, even these sensationally pessimistic statements were still forecasting the most likely outcome is growth.
Or to put it another way, even these outlying forecasts are themselves statements that the glass is actually three quarters or four fifths full.
Yet the effect on confidence can only be negative and on all the facts, is clearly not justified.
One national daily reported on its front page that our economy had shrunk if you excluded net exports.
You might as well say Shakespeare hardly earned a penny in his life, except from the theatre.
And the assault on confidence in Western Australia was particularly sharp.
This arose from the national accounts reporting that final state demand their fell by 3.9 per cent in the March quarter.
Bear in mind, state demand excludes not only net exports but interstate trade.
You might as well say the economy is shrinking in your house when you exclude the money you earn at your office.
The Secretary of Treasury, Dr Parkinson, and his deputy Dr Gruen responded to this unambiguously in Senate hearings ten days ago. As Dr Gruen put it:
The idea that in the face of the largest investment boom we have ever seen, you ignore exports and focus on the piece of the economy that is demand by Western Australia ... belongs in the comic books.
As Prime Minister, I am concerned that left unchecked, this kind of distorted coverage could continue to spread.
Australians woke last Wednesday morning to widespread news reports that markets expected the labour force figures for that day to show 10,000 jobs lost in May.
By lunchtime the ABS figures showed a small increase in jobs.
I don’t know if the Australian Communications and Media Authority would welcome a request for 11,100 corrections to be put to air but if anyone here wants to make that submission feel free to cite me in support.
We all acknowledge that forecasting is difficult – at any time.
But the continued pessimism is not being matched by the continued performance of our key economic indicators and low expectations can themselves become an economic problem.
Now, as I have said, many serious commentators have taken issue with the unreasonable pessimists.
Many of you here share their frustration.
Michael Pascoe in his Fairfax column was the most scathing but also I thought the most amusing, reporting on what he called “squawking”. This led, in his words, to squawk like:
“The national accounts suggest the economy would have contracted without a 1 percentage point boost from falling imports and rising exports…”
Michael went on to say:
It would have contracted if a meteor took out Melbourne and would have expanded if kangaroos started defecating gold.
Yes he is pretty good, isn’t he!
Now you came this morning for a discussion about the economic development of Australia, not an episode of Media Watch.
So it’s important that we be very clear about why it matters to get the public discussion right.
Dr Parkinson’s summary overall, in that same Senate hearing?
Trashing confidence for whatever reason is not in the national interest.
This is the first fundamental point. Confidence matters.
Not hope or optimism, but a well-founded positive sentiment based on the facts, recognising that our economy is growing and stable and strong.
In November 2008, in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens, warned about the need to go about business with a “quiet confidence” in our prospects.
His words:
Given the underlying strengths of the economy, about the biggest mistake we could make would be to talk ourselves into unnecessary economic weakness.
Still true.
Any irrational threat to economic confidence is a threat to jobs and growth.
The second reason to get the discussion right is that as economic decision-makers, we must be able to separate the signal from the noise.
We need to pick the real transitions as they are coming.
Growth in Asia, enduring for decades to come.
The peak of the mining investment boom.
The digital disruption and the clean energy future.
The pick-up in broader sources of growth beyond resources.
Critical for the economy right now – new sources of growth, sustaining economic diversity with a strong dollar.
Perhaps there’s no better example of the failure to separate signal from noise than the pessimists who say that the dollar rising is bad news and then say the dollar falling is bad news.
Last week a retail industry leader who’s spent years advocating for direct relief from the strong dollar and low-price imports did widespread media complaining that the falling dollar was bad for consumer confidence.
This actually happened.
I am sure the recent movements in the dollar will not go unremarked here, so I will say just a few things on that front.
The Australian dollar has been at historically high level for some time now and as you all know this has moderated in recent weeks.
Our high dollar reflects our strong fundamentals – solid growth, low unemployment, low debt, AAA credit ratings – but also the challenges that many other developed economies have faced in the aftermath of the GFC, the worst economic conditions in over 80 years.
More simply, the high value of the Australian dollar has been a combination of our strength and global weakness.
Our strength remains, and the good news is that the signs from America are becoming more positive for their growth.
Improvements in the US economy should be welcome – these support the global recovery and growth in the world’s largest economy provides significant opportunities for Australian exporters.
While the high dollar has provided benefits for consumers, it has meant significant challenges for some of our exporters.
As the Treasurer has said, a sustained depreciation of the Australian dollar in those circumstances would be a very good thing, to stimulate further growth in the non-mining sector – while the firms that have adjusted to the historically high dollar stand to benefit from its fall.
As a Government we recognise we need to be ready to seize the opportunities that the future will bring.
We need to make the right investments and deliver the right reforms.
Your theme this week, of “Australia adjusting”, neatly captures the elements of agency and change that are in play.
Your agenda demonstrates that CEDA, at least, is able to identify the real economic signals and to work up the agenda points for a serious discussion about what is to be done.
Productivity and structural reform: where Labor’s “five pillars” of skills and education, infrastructure, innovation, tax and regulatory reform are so vital – and form a discussion which connects to so many other key areas.
Education: as you put it, ensuring Australia’s future prosperity – nothing matters more and this week is vital for this reform.
Energy policy: a historic challenge to decouple economic growth from emissions growth.
International competitiveness: where the dollar’s recent easing hasn’t eased the demand that we plan for jobs and growth and do so through sustained economic diversity.
Innovation: where the jobs of the future depend so heavily on the ideas and the infrastructure of the future.
Health reform and funding models: the structural reforms already made to Commonwealth-State relations and the structural savings we’ve delivered in Commonwealth spending have begun a process which must continue to sustain public finances.
The big one, the Asian Century, a century of growth and change, of Asian middle-class demand for high value Australian services and goods.
Education and tourism, agriculture and advanced manufacturing, financial services, health services, digital media.
These are the real issues, the big picture, the things that matter. You are absolutely right to be discussing them here this week.
2013 is a big year for Australia.
Economic choices and political choices are before us all.
Choices with consequences, choices with purpose, choices which should be informed, informed by the facts.
The facts are these.
Labor – returning the Budget to balance faster than most of the developed world.
Our net debt – one-third Canada’s, one-fifth Germany’s and one-eighth the size of the United States.
Equivalent to a person with a $100 000 income each year having a $12 000 mortgage.
Our nation’s best ever credit rating.  Interest rates are low.  Inflation is contained.
The average tax to GDP ratio under Labor, well below the previous Coalition Government.
Since Labor came to power, the Australian economy has grown by 14 per cent.
And the bottom line of all bottom lines: under Labor, our nation has created more than 950,000 jobs.
You have a big program before you and I’m looking forward to our conversation because there is so much to discuss.

Transcript of CEDA Question and Answer Session

Media Release.

Prime Minister


QUESTION: Prime Minister, Everald Compton. I’m delighted with the initiative that you and Wayne Swan took in identifying the ageing of the population and how that should be turned into an asset and not being a liability.
And I see based on your remarks about the Asian Century a great opportunity for aged care services in Australia to be exported to China where the demand will be enormous, and I think it could even get to the point of becoming a major export for the country and I wondered what you thought about that?
PM: Thank you very much Everald, and thank you for the contributions you’ve made to our policies too.
Everald’s been working with us on a set of participation policies to make it easier for older Australians to continue to work.
So many of our public policy settings have made assumptions about when full retirement is, and in modern Australia where we need to lift participation and where so many older Australians want to continue in work, Everald’s played a very leading role making sure we get those things right.
I also agree with your analysis about our potential to export aged care and health care and education services, financial services to Asia.
This is going to be such a big part of our future, including the export of public policy services. We are good at public policy.
Things like compulsory superannuation, Medicare, carbon pricing; these things are rightly studied in our region as models for advanced economies as to how you manage ageing populations, how you manage social welfare, how you manage to reduce carbon pollution.
So I think all of that Australian expertise and those leading-edge services can be a source of income and prosperity for us in this Asian Century.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, Baden Firth from the Mitsubishi Corporation. If you could give us your comments on the achievements that you feel you’ve delivered through the Fair Work Act to date, and then what sort of agenda platform you’ll be taking to the next election around industrial relations, I’d be very grateful. Thank you.
PM: Sure. Certainly we’re very proud of the Fair Work Act and whilst it’s going to I’m sure be the continued topic of lively conversation with the business community, here again I think it’s important that people get the facts on the table.
We are seeing rising productivity. We are seeing wages contained. In terms of levels of industrial disputation we are below the average of the Howard years.
And indeed much of the industrial disputation in recent statistics has arisen from state government bargaining disputes with state government employees like teachers and nurses.
So this is the set of achievements of the Fair Work Act.
We’ve recently passed some changes to Fair Work which have been about better balancing work and family life and addressing modern problems like bullying.
We believe we’ve basically got the settings right. We will not go to the election with a big program of change.
We will go to the election saying this is a system that is working for Australia.
And we will certainly go to the election resisting the alternative – whether it is frankly put or only quietly spoken – an alternative that takes us to the very divisive conflict of the Work Choices years.
QUESTION: Good morning Prime Minister, Ken King, CEO of the Pilbara Development Commission.
I’d just like to ask you for your comments about northern Australia. Particularly northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the north of Queensland as regions that provide great opportunities to drive the economy from the resources sector in particular.
And I think more importantly, not just about extractive efforts, extractive industries, but more importantly, your policies around encouraging people to live as well as work in northern Australia.
PM: Thank you very much for that question. I’m in the business of saying we should get things done. I do note that that’s not necessarily embraced by all.
We’ve seen a bit of a flim-flam pamphlet come out on the future of northern Australia which promises rounds of endless reviews and meetings but not much content.
We’ve taken a different view; we’ve just got up there and got things done.
So whether it’s been our record investments in the Kimberley to open up that region, whether it’s been the huge investments we’ve made in the Northern Territory and in the north of Queensland, the investments we’re making in infrastructure, the investments we’re making in education to encourage people to aspire to the highest levels of education.
These are practical changes for northern Australia.
We’ve been working well with local government representatives in northern Australia. We actually work well with the Barnett Government on the strategy for the Kimberley.
We worked well with the Northern Territory Government to do things like secure the INPEX investment and to build the associated training facilities, which means that people will get jobs.
We’ve had our moments with the Queensland Government, but our big investments in the north of Queensland continue. And they will make a long term difference.
Northern Australia has the opportunity to benefit from many of our policy settings, including our settings for a clean energy future – we’re talking about parts of the country where clean energy development is going to be a big part of their future and their future prosperity.
So we’re out there on the ground doing practical work every day, and that’s the approach that we’ll continue to take.
QUESTION: Good morning Prime Minister, Gloria Jacob from Regional Development Australia in the Pilbara. Following on from Dr King’s question – I was wondering what your position would be on encouraging more people to live there, certainly in northern Australia, but especially with regards to the special economic zone?
PM: Look I think you’ve got to be very careful about some of these economic suggestions.
We do have a zonal tax rebate for people who live in remote regions. I don’t want to get into the work of constitutional lawyers – that’s not my bag – we’ve got constitutional lawyers who do that for the nation.
But there is of course a lively discussion about whether or not such a proposal – the one we have in operation now and any proposal to build on it – would survive constitutional challenge. So that’s on the income tax side.
On the business side – what I believe is if you get the underlying conditions right, then you will attract private sector investment.
And the underlying conditions are about traditional infrastructure, where we are a Government that is investing more in roads and rail and ports than any government in the nation’s history.
We’ve radically upped investment since the days of the Howard Government.
If you can build new communications technologies – part of what has kept people from living in northern Australia or in more regional or remote Australia is the sense of isolation – the NBN and all of the technologies associated with the NBN can end that for all time.
Part of what has dissuaded people from living in those areas is the sense that they wouldn’t be able to get quality services for their family. There wouldn’t be quality in the local schools.
There wouldn’t be quality in the local health care facilities. There wouldn’t be the opportunity to go on to higher education.
We have worked to transform that. What I want to achieve in this parliament this week with the new school funding and new school improvement plan would radically lift the quality and resources of schools in regional and remote Australia.
The investments that we’ve put into universities that work in regional and remote Australia are working at transformation too.
So if you can get all of that right; the infrastructure, the human capital, the access to information, the sense for people that they could live lives supported by appropriate services in those parts of the country, then I believe individuals will respond and the private sector will respond as well.

Speech for 25th Anniversary of Parliament House

Media Release.

Prime Minister


This is my 15th year in Parliament, but I am always learning new things about this place.
For example, I was recently told that it would take one painter 16 and a half years to paint the entire building.
Which, if nothing else, gives us a new perspective on Michelangelo’s achievement in the Sistine Chapel.
Perhaps just as remarkably, more than 20 million visitors have passed through the House’s doors in 25 years.
Australian political giants and foreign dignitaries.
The leader of the world’s largest nation – Hu Jintao.
The leader of the world’s largest Islamic society – Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The Queen of Australia and the Prime Minister of this parliament’s distinguished ancestor in Westminster – Tony Blair.
The Prime Ministers of two of our closest Commonwealth friends – Canada’s Stephen Harper and New Zealand’s John Key.
And all four Presidents of the United States elected since the opening of this place.
Legends of radio, television and the Parliamentary press gallery have walked these corridors.
Spiritual leaders and business tycoons.
Community groups and protest movements whose causes span the ideological spectrum.
Millions of excited schoolchildren and their patient teachers.
Australian tourists and international visitors.
People drawn by the striking lines of this building and its
light-filled design.
The warmth of its Australian timbers. The beauty of its magnificent art collection.
People who have come to see our democracy in action.
Both the cut and thrust of Question Time and the unifying spirit of great bipartisan moments. 
People who come to have their voices heard, see their argument made.
To receive a nation’s thanks. Or its apology. 
And I think it is not too much to hope that these visitors leave inspired.
Not just by the place Australians have built.
But the country, the civic pride and the democratic system that this building represents.
Today though, we are here to honour those who made this place possible:
Its visionary architect Romaldo Giurgola, who unfortunately can’t be with us today.
And the men and women who brought that vision to fruition; taking an empty hilltop and turning into our nation’s foremost public building.
We also celebrate the thousands of people who come to this house every working day.
There is a group that is not employed by the Parliament but which makes this place both their home and their subject-matter (for good or ill): the press gallery, who have the opportunity to render such a vital service to our democracy.
There are the cleaners who maintain the 9.6km of corridors and the guides who make visitors feel so welcome within these halls.
The electricians who make sure the 40,000 lights go on.
The gardeners who care for the 13 hectares of grounds and mow the sloping lawns that children just love to roll down.
The editors who produce the 19,600 pages of Hansard each year.
The tabling office and chamber staff who have overseen the passage of more than 4,200 bills.
The parliamentary librarians who have fielded more than 680,000 enquiries.
The chefs, waiters and baristas who have prepared and served hundreds of thousands of meals and millions of cups of coffee.
The security guards, plumbers, printers, switchboard operators, fitness trainers, nurses and IT staff.
All of you who do your jobs so well and with such quiet efficiency that you sometimes miss out on the recognition you deserve.
In a place often associated with prima donnas and limelight, you are backstage making sure that the show goes on.
More than 70 of you have been here from day one, a distinction you share with just four of my Parliamentary colleagues.
There is no better illustration of the apolitical dedication that so many of you bring to your daily work.
And no better reminder that the smooth running of this building is something we should never take for granted.
So on behalf of all Australians I pay tribute to Aldo and to all who created this building, and I thank all those who through their hard work, patience and good-humour give it life every day.
Through their love of freedom, generations of Australians have built a great democracy.
You have given that democracy a fine and worthy home.
On behalf of the nation, I simply say: “thank you”.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Coalitions industrial relations policy

I just finished reading the Coalitions industrial relations policy and in many ways it is Workchoices done up in a warm and fuzzy sheep's clothing with the wolf lurking underneath it, also what comes in loud and clear the Union Movement is in for a rough time if they win the election, to Tony Abbott and the Coalition the Unions are the number one enemy, to be silenced and eradicated at all cost.

An extract from 'THE WORKER' Brisbane February 7, 1891:

Fellow-unionists, the squatters expect the Queensland bush unions will fight hard but they do not know how hard. We call upon you to show them, not underestimating the difficulties that confront us or the power of the organised Capitalism that backs the squatters, but relying with confidence upon the devotion of the bushmen of Queensland to their unions and to the Labour cause.”

The Worker

Colonial Secretary's Coercion Manual

Brisbane September 8, 1894


Our Motto: “Socialism in our time”

Curious feelings stir one's breast as he reads the Colonial Secretary's Coercion Manual. It is a strange and yet to Queenslanders a somewhat familiar document. Our citizens have for some years been so dragooned and coerced that they only realise the brutal nature of Mr.Tozer's “Instructions to the Justices of the Peace and Police” when it is pointed out by a “capitalistic” newspaper publishes in a land not yet so police ridden as this is. Then pain, surprise, indignation, anger, hopelessness and despair disturb in quick succession the minds of those who would see Peace reign throughout the land and Justice done to all. Pain and anger that a man possessed of such blood thirsty instincts should by a plausible tongue have attained the position which enables him to put forth such a revolting emanation. Hopelessness and despair in contemplation of the apparent difficulty of unseating him.

*     *     *

And yet he must be unseated if Queensland is to preserve herself from insurrection. Any man who would issue such order as he has issued, who places it in the power of a perhaps ignorant, uneducated, and excitable policeman to arrest WITHOUT WARRANT unionists attending roll-calls should the policeman THINK a breach of the peace likely to take place, to shoot and kill any unionist who resists such arrest (see page 2 paragraph 3) is not only better out of Parliament, but should himself be placed under restraint.

*     *     *

Not only in a “likely” case of intimidation is a policeman entitled to arrest or kill, but in a dozen similar situations are white citizens to be “dropped” as the squatters dropped the black natives a few years ago. If three or more persons (page 2 paragraph 5) assemble of their own authority, attend a roll-call, and IN THE OPINION OF THE POLICE present are about to cause a tumult, the police may call upon them to surrender, and if they do not immediately surrender, the police are ordered to shoot with intent to kill. If any Justice of the Peace – maybe a squatter, for most squatters in the bush are J.sP. - finds 12 or more unionists assembled together (page 3 paragraph 1) and acting IN HIS OPINION in a riotous or tumultuous manner he may read the Riot Act as follows:

Our Sovereign lady the Queen chargeth and commandeth all persons being assembled immediately to disperse themselves and peaceably to depart to their habitations or to their lawful businesses, upon the pains contained in the Act made in the first year of King George for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies.
God Save the Queen!

And if the (in his opinion) tumult does not cease, the Justice squatter may call upon the police to arrest the ringleaders, and to shoot to kill in case of resistance.

*     *     *

Then again (this time under an old Act, 2 * Edward III., c. 3, which does not appear in the index of English statutes, AS IT HAS BEEN REPEALED, but which has been unearthed to meet the circumstances of the shearers' strike), if any unionist (page 3, par. 7) should go or ride armed by night or by day in fairs, markets, or in the presence of the justices (squatters) or other ministers, or in any part elsewhere, said unionists may be called upon “to forfeit their armour to the King and their bodies to the King's pleasure” (“the King's pleasure” being an absurd legal anachronism in view of the more modern Habeas Corpus Act); and if any unionist or unionists resist arrest under this moth-eaten statute, he or they may be shot dead by the policemen present.

(* The arms used in the reign of Edward III, were the club, mace, battle axe, pike, spear, javelin, sword, and dagger, bows and arrows, and a crude species of cannon. Rifles or revolvers were not then made.)

(The wearing of arms – see page 4, par. 3 – in certain cases, such as that of squatters or blacklegs, is not a violation of the Act!) In all the above offences, and a great many more coming under the head of Felony (which embraces all crimes), constables endeavouring to effect arrest will if death ensues in the struggle be held harmless (page 4, par. 7). the police may arrest WITHOUT WARRANT ON SUSPICION (page 5, par.7) any man whom they suspect has committed or is about to commit crime, and if said man resist arrest the police are ordered to shoot to kill. “Firing must be effective.”

*     *     *

Special constables, too – who in some cases are untrained, ignorant, and the dregs of humanity – have all the powers of ordinary constables (page 5, par. 7). And towards the end of the Manual, for fear it should be over looked, reiterated instruction is given that firing should be effective and AT THE LEADERS. Firing over the heads of mobs or crowds engaged in an illegal pursuit must not be allowed, as a harmless fire, instead of intimidating, will give confidence to the daring and the guilty(page 6, par. 2).

*     *     *

Well may the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH of Thursday, August 30, refer to the Manual in the following strongly worded protest:
This ghastly official announcement . . . . Not even in the most autocratically governed country in Europe has a more cold – blooded incitement to take human life been issued with official sanction.
It seems incredible that a Minister in an English – speaking country could issue such instructions to the police. As far as we are aware the almost universal rule is to urge the police to abstain, except under absolute necessity, from the use of firearms against mobs, and even when they are compelled to use them it should be for the purpose of intimidating, not killing, those that they may have to fire upon. An immense out burst of oratory took place in Victoria during the great maritime strike because Colonel Price counselled the military when they had to deal with riotous mobs to fire low. This instruction, which caused so much indignation was really a humane one, its purpose being to inflict as little injury as possible upon the mobs when fired upon. Bullets fired at the feet of a mob, or at the ground in front of a mob, would obviously be much less disastrous in effect than if fired right into the mob. In the former case, injury might be inflicted; in the latter, the killing of somebody would be certain. But this Queensland instruction makes no pretence at humanity. It instructs the police to mark down the leaders, and fire at them if possible with effect. The solution of the Capital and Labour problem is very far off when it is possible . . . . for a Queensland Minister to issue such instructions as those contained in this Queensland Manual.”

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Any person with a spark of manhood who knows the circumstances that led up to the present strike, who is aware that for the past seven months the unions have had a standing appeal to the pastorlists to settle the dispute by conference, must take sides with the bushmen against the Colonial Secretary and the squatters. If the men quarrel, and one is injured was the first to assault his opponent, every disinterested person is prepared to admit, while regretting the occurrence, that he brought his trouble on himself. This is exactly what has occurred in the present industrial dispute. The unionists sent peace-offering after peace-offering to the squatters to no purpose. Away in April last the Brisbane COURIER, NOW SO BITTER AGAINST THE BUSHMEN, said in reference to the unions' request to meet in conference;

The doubtful points in the situation is the apparent indisposition of the squatters to entertain a proposal for a conference. A request for one was made so long ago as January, but it cannot be considered by the Queens' and Pastorlists' Council in June and even then it must be submitted to the Federal Council for decision. This delay does not look well. It may be unavoidable delay, but it has the aspect of intention. There is a how not to do it look about the thing. If conference are not to be granted, why not say so straight-out.?”

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The squatters have since said”straight-out” that they will not grant a conference. What, then, are the bushmen to do? Cringe and crawl to work, or stand up like the men they are, and assert their rights to live? This the bushmen have done, and because so far the squatters have failed, with all the Government assistance in the shape of police organisers and police spies to break down the unity of the workmen, and because they cannot get enough greasy, malodorous blacklegs to rob the strikers of the work and the bread which for months they have waited for, this stupid and pig-headed elique, misnamed a Government, issues a cold-blooded indictment to shoot, in order that the unionists may be terrified into accepting the squatters' terms.

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What is the country coming to? is Queensland, the first to spring to the assistance of starving London dockers, going to forsake her own? Is Justice dead and Liberty non-existent? The press gagged and the pulpit silent? Are the men in the cities so cast down that they dare not raise their voices in protest against the gross infringement of the rights of nineteenth century white men? If so, let the spirits of our fore fathers, who forced Magna Charta from King John, at Runnymede, who brought the tyrant King Charles I. To the block, mourn the cowardice of their offspring who shiver on the steps of what should be their own, while politicians issue from luxurious chambers a tyrannous edict which should send the blood tingling through every vein and artery of all men, and which should make men set their teeth with a firm resolve to mend or end a condition of things so corrupt and perfidious.
                                                                                                                                                  W. G. H.