Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Judge adjourns alleged bikie's bail application over Newman comments

Extract from ABC News website:

Updated 33 minutes ago

A Supreme Court judge in Brisbane has adjourned a bail hearing because of Premier Campbell Newman's recent remarks about the judiciary.
Two weeks ago, 25-year-old alleged bikie member Jared Kevin Anthony Brown was granted bail in the Holland Park Magistrates Court in Brisbane.
Today, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) applied to the Supreme Court to review the bail decision.
But in court today Justice George Fryberg questioned whether he should hear the DPP's application, in light of remarks made recently by Mr Newman.
The judge quoted an ABC story that reported Mr Newman as saying he wanted the Queensland judiciary to start realising what the community wanted, and to act accordingly.

Judge says 'it's essential justice be seen to be done', claims Newman's comments compromise that

Justice Fryberg told today's hearing he was troubled by the comments, which he said could put the public's perception of justice at risk.
"Before I commence hearing this case, I need to know whether the report reflects what the Premier said about this case and whether the DPP reflects that view, or whether they have withdrawn it," he said.
"It is essential in our system that justice be seen to be done.
"If we hear remarks on the record that are not withdrawn, it would be very difficult for members of the public to avoid the conclusion that the court was bending to the will of the government ... justice would not be seen to be done.
"The difficulty I see is the application is being brought by the Government ... the Government's principal spokesman has publicly told the court what the outcome should be."

'Courts could grind to halt if Newman doesn't back down'

He adjourned the DPP's application to have the bail decision reviewed.
Justice Fryberg asked the DPP to determine whether the media reports of Mr Newman's coments were accurate, whether the Premier had withdrawn what he said, and if not, whether the court ought to hear the matter or stay it indefinitely.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says Mr Newman must back down.
"When the Parliament resumes at 2:00pm, I expect the Premier to stand up and withdraw his comments unreservedly, and apologise to the courts for these attacks," she said.

"Otherwise our courts will grind to a halt."

Australia's emissions reduction target inadequate: Climate Change Authority report.

Extract from ABC News website:

Updated 16 minutes ago

The Federal Government's independent climate policy adviser has declared Australia's emissions reduction target inadequate and not credible.
In a draft report on emissions reduction targets, the Climate Change Authority says Australia's commitment to cutting emissions by 5 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020 would leave Australia lagging behind other comparable countries like the United States.
It has not recommended a final, tougher target, but has canvassed two options for emissions reductions targets.
It says there could be a 15 per cent reduction by 2020, with a trajectory range of 35 to 50 per cent by 2030.
Alternatively, there could be a 25 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020, with a trajectory range of 40 to 50 per cent by 2030.


The report says a weaker 2020 target would require faster reductions later, if Australia is to play its fair role in contributing to the international goal of limiting global warming by 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.
The Climate Change Authority will accept submissions on the draft report until November 29, with the final report due to be handed to the Government by the end of February.
The Coalition intends to introduce legislation in the first sitting of Parliament to abolish the authority, which is led by former Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser.
The authority was set up by the former Labor government to provide expert advice on carbon pricing and climate policy.
The Opposition's Environment spokesman Mark Butler has warned against shutting the authority down, and says he hopes the Government takes the report seriously.
"The United States is working to a reduction target of 17 per cent by 2020," he said.
"Europe other countries have similar targets.
"This is a debate we need to have and I'd like to see the independent voices maintained in the debate rather than shut down."
Australia will be expected to confirm its emissions reduction plans in the next few years in international climate talks.

Preliminary discussions are set to begin in Warsaw next month.

Bill Shorten: ABC RADIO AM TONY EASTLEY


TRANSCRIPT
ABC RADIO AM
TONY EASTLEY
FRIDAY, 25 OCTOBER 2013

Subjects: Parliamentary entitlements, NSW bushfires, MRRT, Coalition cuts to small business and families.  

TONY EASTLEY: West Australian liberal Don Randall has broken his silence on questionable travel expense claims, saying a controversial trip he made to Cairns, where he owns an investment property, was in his capacity as then shadow parliamentary secretary for local government.
He’s also defended a claim for more than $5,000 he made for a trip to Melbourne where he and his wife attended a West Coast Eagles football game, and for employing his daughter as his taxpayer-funded executive assistant.
Mr Randall’s paid back more than $10,000 of entitlements he claimed last year and says he has Tony Abbott’s support for his contention he’s done nothing wrong.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Mr Randall’s explanation isn’t good enough and the Prime Minister has to explain why Mr Randall’s travel claims are justified.
Mr Shorten is speaking here with AM’s Tom Iggulden in Canberra.
BILL SHORTEN: As I’ve said from the outset, I believe it’s up to the Prime Minister to explain how Mr Randall’s claims fell within the guidelines. Clearly each of the two people involved, Prime Minister Abbott and Don Randall, have got a different explanation.
There is community anxiety about entitlements. I think the vast bulk of MPs do the right thing but I think Mr Abbott has to explain if he thinks it’s good use of taxpayers’ money to fly 3,000 kilometres to Cairns to have a quick chat with a colleague.
TOM IGGULDEN: Well, there’s also the issue of Mr Randall attending an AFL game in Melbourne and apparently his daughter’s on the parliamentary payroll as his executive assistant as well.
BILL SHORTEN: Well, I know that when the Abbott Government was in opposition they were very active about pressing the case against crossbenchers and entitlements.
But I think more and more people are starting to wake up to the idea that this isn’t the Government they voted for on the 7th of September. You’ve got this episode which has now embroiled the Prime Minister and Mr Randall and some of his other frontbenchers. You’ve also got Joe Hockey the Treasurer before the election saying that we had a debt crisis and now he’s nearly doubling the national debt all on his own.
TOM IGGULDEN: Staying on the parliamentary entitlements issue though, you have acknowledged that community concern is growing about this. Is it the case that the Opposition shouldn’t be passively saying they’ll go along with whatever the Government wants here but in fact start pushing for change in this area?
BILL SHORTEN: Well, we’ve indicated that we would sit down with the Government to clear up the guidelines. Obviously you’ve got to approach this on a bipartisan basis and we have made it clear that we are willing to sit down with the Government to alleviate community concern, to make sure that there can be no doubt about the integrity of the system. That’s what the community expect and the Opposition is willing to work with the Government to do that.
TOM IGGULDEN: Would you go to them with a model that you think would work or are you waiting to hear from them about what they would like to do?
BILL SHORTEN: Well, I think it is an issue of concern. This matter of the Perth MP going to Cairns and Mr Abbott having one explanation and his backbencher having another is troubling.
We would sit down with the Government, we would see what they have to say and we would be happy to discuss with them our ideas about changes.
TOM IGGULDEN: On another issue, we heard Tony Abbott say earlier this week that the UN climate change chief Christina Figueres was talking out of her hat by linking bushfires with climate change. What’s your view on that issue?
BILL SHORTEN: Well, a man died yesterday. There’s hundreds of houses have been destroyed. I visited some of the fire affected areas myself with Senator Doug Cameron on Tuesday.
In terms of the debate about the relationship between climate change and extreme weather and, you know, how dry the undergrowth is and the lack of moisture, I don’t believe that this week when people have still got properties on the line is the right week to debate that issue. But I do believe fundamentally that climate change is real and that human activity contributes to it.
TOM IGGULDEN: And just finally Bill Shorten, on the mining tax, the Government has presented its legislation to repeal that tax. It has been criticised as one that’s been poorly designed and also one that didn’t bring in much by way of revenue.
BILL SHORTEN: Labor believes that there should be a fair share of the natural resources to all Australians. Labor believes fundamentally that some of the propositions which the Coalition are advancing, that they want to have a retrospective tax on the superannuation payments of people who earn less than $37,000 was a bad idea, that attacking small business and increasing their tax load is a bad idea.
So we think that the Government seems hell bent on supporting some of the richest mining companies in the world to the disadvantage of millions of Australians and hundreds of thousands of Australian small businesses. We don’t see how this is in Australia’s best interest.
TOM IGGULDEN: Do you accept though that the tax was poorly designed and didn’t bring in the money it was supposed to?
BILL SHORTEN: So what we have is the Coalition is saying that they’re scrapping a tax because it’s not raising enough money. We don’t believe that is the real motivation of the Coalition. We think that they aren’t governing for all. Before the election they said they’d be a government for all Australians yet after the election it doesn’t matter about, they are nearly doubling debt, or they’re going to slug new taxes on the superannuation payments of millions of Aussies or hundreds of thousands of Australian small businesses.
What we saw from the opposition before the election, the Government they’re proving now is a very different thing and the fact that they’ve got the big business lobby…
TOM IGGULDEN: They said they’d scrap the tax though. That’s what they’re doing and I’m asking you whether Labor will support that.
BILL SHORTEN: And they also said, our principle about what we support and don’t support is what’s in the best long term interests of the nation. How on Earth is it in the best long term interests of Australians to see hundreds of thousands of Australian businesses paying more tax, to see millions of Australians paying a retrospective tax on their superannuation payments? That was never what people signed up for at the last election.
TONY EASTLEY: The Opposition Leader Bill Shorten speaking to Tom Iggulden in Canberra.

ENDS

Bill Shorten: JOINT DOORSTOP TREASURY GARDENS, MELBOURNE


THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

THE HON JENNY MACKLIN MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR DISABILITY REFORM
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR JAGAJAGA


TRANSCRIPT
JOINT DOORSTOP
TREASURY GARDENS, MELBOURNE
FRIDAY, 25 OCTOBER 2013


Subjects: Abbott Government Walking Away from DisabilityCare and selling off Medibank Private, Infrastructure, NSW Bushfires, Don Randall MP.

Bill Shorten: It’s great to be here in Melbourne with Labor’s Shadow Disability Spokesperson, Jenny Macklin.
Today, Labor is gravely concerned at reports in the media that the Coalition Government is considering scaling back the National Disability Insurance Scheme – DisabilityCare – or indeed abolishing it and moving it to Medibank Private.
Yesterday we had reports that the Coalition Government was going to consider engaging in a fire sale to sell Medibank Private and then today we’ve got reports from Dr Steve Hambleton, the President of the AMA, expressing his concern that if Medibank Private is privatised, then what will happen is there will be upward pressure on health premiums.
But even more disturbingly, we find that whilst the Government is looking at privatising important health insurance assets which will put upward pressure on families’ cost of living, that now the Government’s looking at putting at risk the National Disability Insurance Scheme – DisabilityCare.
Labor is justifiably proud of the work we’ve done to bring in people with disability and their carers from the cold, from their second-class life in Australia, through the provision of DisabilityCare.
It is not right and Labor will fight tooth and nail to make sure that the Coalition keeps its hands off DisabilityCare, the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
We will fight this with every inch of our efforts because we believe that the hundreds of thousands of people with severe or profound disabilities, and millions of carers and their family members, deserve a better deal in Australia and we’re not going to allow the Coalition to say one thing before the election where they pretended to be in support of everything we’re doing, where they vote for the legislation in the parliament, and as soon as the election’s had, as soon as they’re in power, all of a sudden they start junking their pre-election comments.
Jenny Macklin: I would like to say very plainly to Mr Hockey, keep your hands off the National Disability Insurance Scheme. People with disability, carers in Australia, have campaigned for years to establish the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The legislation went through the parliament earlier this year. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is now real for thousands of people with disability and their carers and now we see in the newspaper this morning that Joe Hockey, the new Treasurer of Australia, is looking to have the National Disability Insurance Scheme run by a privatised Medibank Private.
It’s not good enough. Mr Hockey, keep your hands off the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Shorten: Happy to take questions.
Journalist: The government stressed that this is just an idea? Are you making too much of this too soon?
Shorten: People with disabilities don’t deserve to have their lives disrupted by ill-thought out Coalition thought bubbles. The Government needs to realise they’re in Government now, when they have a thought bubble, this affects the security and wellbeing of thousands of Australians.
This Government loved three word slogans in Opposition. Here’s a three word slogan back – hands off DisabilityCare.
Shorten: Another other questions?
Journalist: (Inaudible)
Shorten: First of all, there’s been no proper business case done of the east-west tunnel link. Everyone supports jobs. The issue, though, is that we’ve got an issue of public transport. The best way to clear up congestion in Melbourne, before you get to the roads, is to make sure the people have the option of catching the train.
We know that the central underground loop is at breaking point now, that it’s practically impossible to get more train carriages on the underground loop at peak period times, so in order to deal with road congestion, which is a real issue, it becomes hard to deal with that effectively until you have a properly funded public transport system and tracks in inner city Melbourne so that would be the first priority.
The second thing is we need to ensure there is a proper business case attached to this plan so there’s a fair way to go before I believe we should be signing off on the State Government’s latest thought bubble. What we believe in Labor is evidence trumps rhetoric. We want to see the evidence in the business and a proper long-term plan for Melbourne’s transport not just a thought bubble.
Journalist: (Inaudible)
Shorten: I’m not the State Opposition but what I do know is that to make Melbourne function well, for all of us who love Melbourne and love the great lifestyle, we need to do something about easing not just road congestion but having a better public transport system so people have an option other than driving their cars everywhere and that involves better inner city metro rail.
Journalist: What do you say the discrepancy is between Don Randall and Tony Abbott on what they’ve said about Don Randall expenses and do you think Don Randall should be disciplined?
Shorten: The issue of the Don Randall travel entitlements matter is one for the Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The current Prime Minister made a hero of himself chasing people on entitlements when he was in Opposition. We think that Prime Minister Abbott has to get to the bottom of this. He’s offered one explanation for Mr Randall’s trip. Mr Randall’s offered another explanation for Mr Randall’s trip. I think Australians legitimately want to ensure that high standards are being maintained. It’s up to Mr Abbott to account for the actions of the members of his Government.
Journalist: The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ today in its editorial calling for leadership from you and Mr Abbott today have called for you to show leadership on expenses. What leadership are you going to show?
Shorten: Mr Randall is not in my party, Mr Randall is a Liberal.  Mr Randall is a Liberal MP. The Prime Minister of Australia gave an explanation for what Mr Randall was doing. Mr Randall’s given a different explanation for what Mr Randall was doing. The buck stops with the Government and the buck stops with the Prime Minister when it comes to the conduct of members of his own party.
In terms of the entitlements issue more generally, we are prepared to engage in constructive bipartisan discussions to improve public confidence in the system.
Journalist: What sort of reforms do you thing are needed (inaudible)?
Shorten: First of all Mr Abbott needs to explain what Mr Randall is doing. You can’t have two people in the same Government offering different explanations on different days. I think that would go a long way to restoring public confidence – if Mr Abbott and Mr Randall can give the same explanations of Mr Randall’s activities.
More generally, we again reiterate the offer that we’re willing to engage in constructive to ensure the public can have confidence in the system of entitlements in Australia. We won’t shirk what we have to do. We will work with the Government to ensure the public have the best possible confidence in our entitlement system.
Journalist: On the Barrie Cassidy story, was it the wrong thing for him to be appointed (inaudible)?
Shorten: In terms of appointments process, no, we think that processes which have gone through should be respected. We don’t believe in political witch hunts so, no, we probably have a different view to some of the commentary in the media.
Journalist: (inaudible)
Shorten: When it comes to bushfires in NSW, Labor’s thoughts go out to the family of the pilot who was killed yesterday.  Our thoughts are with the thousands of volunteers doing a marvellous job protecting life and property in the Blue Mountains and other parts of NSW. I had the opportunity to visit with Senator Doug Cameron, our Spokesperson on Human Services, to see how the recovery and the efforts are going first-hand on Tuesday this week.
It is like a war zone, some of the houses which have been destroyed in the Blue Mountains. I think in Australia, we can take for granted our security and safety but when you see the damage and the loss of property that some that some people have suffered, that’s the most important issue this week.
The recovery efforts are quite remarkable. Sadly, we’ve learned a lot in the last few years about how to help people in these disasters but of course all the insurance in the world and all the cups of tea and all the efforts, the fine efforts that are happening, don’t help families be able to get the school reports of their kids which have been burnt or the family photos or family heirlooms.
This week is not a week for politics. This is a week for recognising and supporting people who’ve been through a terrible time and the amazing efforts of thousands of people.
In future weeks no doubt there will be a debate about the causes and the nature of these bushfires but I think out of respect for the people who are going through a tough time this is not the week to have that discussion.
Journalist: Jenny Macklin can I ask you a quick question?  When did you first express concern about the Indigenous Land Council’s purchase of Uluru and the Uluru resort and do you think that was a bad investment?
Macklin: These matters go back some time before the Indigenous Land Council made the decision to purchase Yulara and both the Finance Minister at the time, Senator Wong, and I, both asked many questions about the issue but in the end it was a matter for the board. The board had to make that decision and the board has the responsibility for the decision that was made.
Journalist: Are you willing in hindsight to express an opinion on that?
Macklin: It’s a matter for the board.
Shorten: Thank you.
ENDS

LABOR PUTS SCIENCE AT THE FOREFRONT

Oct 25, 2013

Media Release.

THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

SENATOR KIM CARR
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING THE LEADER FOR SCIENCE
SENATOR FOR VICTORIA


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten today met with representatives from Australia’s science and research sector to discuss how science can be put back on the national agenda.

Mr Shorten is the first Labor leader to take science as their special responsibility.

Together with Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader for Science, Senator Kim Carr, Mr Shorten discussed key issues facing the sector such as creating a sustainable and strategic long term approach to supporting research programs and infrastructure, and ensuring science does not lose its place among the nation’s priorities.

“The 21st century has presented us with a number of big challenges, and science is central to solving each and every one of them,” Mr Shorten said.

“I know that that Australia’s wealth is not confined to what is below the ground, but what’s above it: our people.  Australian genius. Australian smarts.”

“In government, Federal Labor increased science and research funding to record levels, but there is still more to be done.

“The role of science in the future lives of all Australians needs to be better understood.

“We still see the science of climate change disputed. We still see parents resisting vaccinations for their children. We see far too little science informing public debates and under-representation in the press.

“Too few students are attracted to study science and maths and those who go on to higher degrees are not offered diverse and rewarding careers paths in Australia.

“Government has a critical role to play in promoting and supporting science and we should be using the best scientific evidence available to develop the long term policies that will sustain us as a prosperous nation well into the future.”

Senator Carr said that keeping science and research at the forefront, including in the Parliament, will be a top priority for the Labor Party.

“Our commitment has always been to provide this community with the best kit the country can afford. In return our scientists and researchers commit to using it to further the interests of the country and its people,” Senator Carr said.

“We need to see this compact between the government and the science and research sector continue if Australia is to have a better and more prosperous future.”


MELBOURNE

Labor should stick with carbon pricing, national secretary tells party colleagues

'We are on the right side of history on this argument,' says George Wright in frank election postmortem at press club.

Labor’s national secretary, George Wright, has urged his parliamentary colleagues to persist with carbon pricing, declaring that the policy positions the party on the right side of history, climate science and economics.
Wright used a frank campaign postmortem at the National Press Club on Tuesday to express his view that Labor – having “bled” on the carbon pricing issue – should stick with the policy during the transition to opposition. He said Labor party members felt strongly that Labor should hold the line on carbon pricing.
“We are on the right side of history on this argument, we are on the right side of science on this argument, we are on the right side of economics on this argument and on the right side of preserving for the long term our living standards,” Wright said in response to a question about whether the party should fight, or accept the new government’s agenda on this issue.
He argued that the response to Tony Abbott’s proposed repeal of Labor’s clean energy package was a matter for the shadow cabinet, but he added: “We are on the right side [of this argument] and I think we should stay there.”
Wright’s public advice to Labor’s parliamentarians comes as the opposition is determining how to respond to the repeal proposal once parliament sits.
Labor went to the election promising to end the fixed-price period of the carbon regime, and move more quickly to an emissions trading scheme with a cap on emissions and a floating price.
Post-election, senior party figures have insisted publicly that carbon pricing remains a key part of the agenda, although internal views are mixed. No decisions have yet been taken by senior ministers about how to proceed on specifics.
Returning to the topic of the election campaign, Wright told the press club that Labor had fared better in September under Rudd’s leadership than it would have without the leadership change. However, he said “in retrospect” Rudd should have gone to the polls sooner because the initial honeymoon which put Labor back in contention against Abbott could not, in the end, be sustained.
He also paid tribute to Julia Gillard’s toughness, and said history would be kinder to the former prime minister than the contemporary reading. That said, he spoke of having frank conversations with her about the state of Labor’s poor opinion polling before Labor switched back to Rudd. He said he had given her his assessment “straight”, and she had deserved to “get it straight”.
Wright said the 2013 campaign was certainly not perfect, but the ALP had held it together; he also argued that the infrastructure and campaign apparatus built up behind the defeat would sustain the ALP during opposition, and through a period of rebuilding.
He pointed to advances behind the scenes in micro-targeting, direct communications, digital campaigning and the crowdsourcing of micro donations as “green shoots” – institutional bedrock for election campaigns in the future. “We live to fight another day, and fight we will,” Wright said.
He said Labor could shrug off the defeat and get back into government quickly if it hit pause on the “indulgence” and “navel gazing” of the past several years. Caucus would need to be serious about changing a culture that put self-interest before the interests of voters and supporters.
His critique was direct. Wright joked that a strong interest while a university student in “gothic horror” had equipped him well for a management role in the ALP.
He said the internal culture would not be changed by public admonishment by either himself, or by the new Labor leader, Bill Shorten – by “finger waving”. “It can only be addressed by people realising that we’re actually there to represent something more than ourselves,” he said.
Wright said the point wasn’t that Labor lost an election in 2013 – the point was Labor had lost government. He made a comparison with the Whitlam government, which he said had not lost the policy argument; the policies were welcome, and endured. It had lost the competency argument with the public.
Wright also praised his Liberal party counterpart, Brian Loughnane’s disciplined orderly campaign, and also backed his recent call for reform of the Senate voting system. He said Labor would “absolutely support” an inquiry by the joint standing committee on electoral matters in the wake of a federal election which delivered stronger than usual micro-party representation in the Senate due in large part to intricate preference swaps.
“I think it does need to be looked at,” Wright said.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Conservation groups hold crisis meeting to stop handover of approvals.

Extract from The Guardian website:

Australian government plans to transfer environmental decision-making to state governments have outraged environmentalists

Environment groups are holding an emergency meeting in Sydney on Monday to plan legal challenges and community campaigns against the Abbott government’s moves to hand over environmental decision-making to the states.
The memorandum of understanding signed 10 days ago by the prime minister, Tony Abbott, the environment minister, Greg Hunt, and the Queensland premier, Campbell Newman, and the Queensland environment minister, Andrew Powell, “looks like a straight handover of approval powers,” said the chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry.
The MOU states that Queensland must “ensure that matters of national environmental significance are separately identified and assessed, taking into account commonwealth guidelines, plans and policies” and that the state assessments must “meet commonwealth standards”. The Commonwealth pledges to avoid “to the greatest extent possible … imposing additional conditions”.
The MOU is intended as a template for legally-binding bilateral agreements between the commonwealth and each of the states - fulfilling the Coalition’s election promise to create and environment assessment “one-stop shop” and to remove “green tape”.
In a statement announcing the MOU had been signed, Abbott said it would “slash the growing burden and duplication of red and green tape which is a handbrake on investment in Queensland because two sets of environmental approvals cause delays to projects and investment across the state and the country.”
“The one-stop shop does not replace any state or federal environment laws – it simply streamlines the process, ensuring just one application, instead of two, needs to be made.
“That means the same strict environmental standards but ensures swift decisions and more certainty, whilst increasing jobs and investment in Queensland. State governments already administer environmental law and should be able to make environmental approvals on the Commonwealth’s behalf while maintaining the same strict standards.” The plans are enthusiastically backed by the conservative states.
But the environment groups say recent actions and decisions taken by state governments showed that the federal government needed to retain the final decision-making power and take responsibility for its international legal obligations. These included state support for:

  • massive port developments along the Great Barrier Reef,
  • logging and shooting in NSW national parks,
  • grazing in NSW, Victorian and Queensland national parks,
  • logging in Tasmanian world heritage areas
  • huge coal developments in Queensland’s Galilee Basin
  • the decision by the Queensland government to revoke the phase-out of sand mining on North Stradbroke Island and instead extend it to 2035 with fewer restrictions.
“There does not appear to be a veto power for the commonwealth in what has been proposed. We believe it is illegal for the commonwealth to wash its hands of its responsibilities,” Henry said.
“This is absolutely an emergency situation ... and the only recourse will be community action and the courts ... my advice to the corporate sector is to be careful what they wish for. They only need to look at (the proposed gas processing plant at) James Price Point. The state government was incompetent and it lost three court cases.” The James Price Point plant was eventually shelved in favour of a floating processing plant, but remains the favoured option of the WA premier, Colin Barnett.
“We will not stand aside and see our hard won national environmental laws weakened,” Henry said.
The meeting of environment groups comes as the Minerals Council of Australia (MC) unveils a new idea on Monday to further “streamline” environmental approvals.
The Minerals Council of Australia chief executive, Mitch Hooke, is proposing an online searchable database for up to date scientific information on each region, so every new development proposal did not have to repeat the same time-consuming analysis.
“The proposal complements the federal and state governments’ 'one-stop-shop' approach and is specifically designed to improve industry and community confidence in the project approval process – confidence which is being undermined by the excessive amount of time, effort and money wasted meeting overlapping, duplicating regulations which add little if any value to environmental protection,” Hooke said.
The Australian Conservation Foundation has already written to the director of Unesco, Kishore Rao, arguing the proposed handover of federal decision making powers “places the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef at grave risk.”
“Previous Queensland governments have tried to allow oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef and major developments on Great Barrier Reef Islands. The Commonwealth Government has had to step in to protect the values of the reef on a number of occasions. The World Heritage provisions of Australia’s federal environmental laws provide these protections, ensure the national interest is pursued in decision-making, and make sure the national government is able to meet its obligations under the World Heritage Convention,” Henry wrote on the day the Queensland and federal governments signed the MOU.
“The Queensland Government will make decisions from a Queensland perspective. It is responsible to the population of Queensland, not Australia as a whole. We believe there is a very high danger that the Queensland government will undertake environmental approvals on the Commonwealth’s behalf that will threaten the universal values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The Queensland government is not a party to the World Heritage Convention and as such its decision-making will not adequately reflect the responsibilities of the Australian government as a signatory to the World Heritage Convention.”
“We urge you to write immediately to the Australian Prime Minister expressing the concern of the World Heritage Committee and reminding the Australian government that the Committee is currently considering the potential of an endangered listing for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and that any weakening of the application of federal environmental laws in Australia will be considered by the committee in this context.”
It is understood the Wilderness Society, the World Wildlife Fund and several state-based environmental organisations were involved in the Monday meeting.

Australia should cut carbon emissions by at least 25% by 2020, says report.

Extract from The Guardian website:

Target of 5% not enough, based on warming ceiling of 2C and Australia’s ‘fair share’ of global carbon budget

Australia has already eaten through at least two-thirds of its share of a “carbon budget” that would keep global warming below 2C, requiring it to drastically escalate its emissions reduction target, according to a new report.
The study, conducted by consultancy firm Ecofys at the behest of WWF Australia, states that Australia should look to reduce carbon emissions by a “bare minimum” of 25% by 2020, based on 2000 levels.
According to the report, Australia’s “reasonable and credible” contribution to global emissions, based on a per capita output, should see it scale down emissions by between 27% and 34% by 2020.
Currently, Australia has a bipartisan emissions reduction target of 5%, although this can stretch to 25% depending on whether there are swingeing carbon cuts by major economies around the world.
The Climate Change Authority, the independent body tasked with recommending Australia’s emissions reduction targets, is set to release its latest advice this week. The Coalition has pledged to scrap the authority.
WWF’s findings, which will be submitted to the Climate Change Authority, calculate Australia’s fair share of the world’s carbon budget as 18bn tonnes.
Australia has already used up between 66% and 84% of this budget, according to the study, and will have to make progressively deeper cuts to emissions, up to 106% below 2000 levels by 2050.
While WWF concedes it is “naive” to expect the international community to come up with a single formula to share the global carbon budget, it is clear that Australia needs to do far more.
It points to the 2008 Garnaut Review, which recommended Australia reduce emissions by 25% below 2000 levels by 2020 and 90% below 2000 levels by 2050, to contribute properly to the internationally-agreed goal of keeping the world below 2C of warming from pre-industrial temperature levels.
By comparison, the Obama administration in the US has set a goal to reduce emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. The European Union has committed its 28 member states to a 20% reduction in emissions on 1990 levels by 2020. The UK, which has a 90% reduction goal by 2050, has pressed the EU to ramp up this target to 30%.
The IPCC report released last month warned that, at the current rate of emissions, the world’s carbon budget would be exhausted within 30 years.
Will McGoldrick, climate change policy manager at WWF, told Guardian Australia that the 5% target needed to be rapidly upgraded if Australia was to play its part.
“If we are maxing out our carbon budget, as we currently are, we should also max out our emissions target,” he said. “25% will probably fall marginally short, but it will at least get us back on track.
“The US is the world’s second largest emitter and a major trading partner – what are we doing if we can’t match them? It would just be untenable.
“The government is new but it needs to set up a framework that people can get involved in to set the emissions target. We’re very disappointed that the government wants to scrap the Climate Change Authority because we shouldn’t be burying our heads in the sand and ignoring independent advice.”
A spokesman for Greg Hunt, the environment minister, said that “Labor’s carbon tax” will not achieve the cut of 5% of emissions by 2020, unlike the Coalition’s Direct Action policy, which would provide incentives for businesses to reduce emissions in reverse auctions.
“Domestic emissions are set to rise from 560m tonnes to 637m tonnes, between 2010 [and] 2020, under the carbon tax,” he said. “Labor’s carbon tax does a lot of damage to households and businesses, yet it doesn't even do the job.”

Monday, 28 October 2013

Anti-corruption judge Tony Fitzgerald slams Queensland's 'foolhardy' bikie, sex offender laws

Extract from ABC News website:

Updated 30 minutes ago
The man behind Queensland's historic corruption inquiry, Tony Fitzgerald, has delivered a scathing verdict of the Newman Government's new laws targeting bikies and sex offenders.
Queensland recently introduced some of the toughest anti-bikie laws in the country, restricting members' and associates' movements and meetings, and increasing minimum sentences for their crimes.
Under the changes to the state's sex offender laws, the Attorney-General will have the power to keep serious sex offenders in prison indefinitely - taking away that role from the courts.
Judges, lawyers and civil libertarians have all voiced concerns about the changes, but Premier Campbell Newman has labelled critics as "apologists for paedophiles".
Now, the man who presided over the judicial inquiry into Queensland police corruption in the late 1980s, and which brought about the end of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era, has added his voice to the debate.
In recent years Mr Fitzgerald has been a man of few words, but in an opinion piece for The Courier-Mail newspaper, he slams the new laws.
Mr Fitzgerald warns it is "foolhardy" for politicians to make major changes to the criminal law without consulting legal experts.
"Although Parliament has power to enact almost any law which it chooses, parliamentarians who are elected to do what's best for the community don't have a mandate to give effect to prejudices and ill-informed opinions, ignore ethics and conventions or attack fundamental values such as personal freedom or essential institutions such as the judiciary," he writes.

Mr Fitzgerald says it is "extremely arrogant" to denigrate the judiciary and slander those who disagree with what he calls the Government's "political solution".
He adds that any Queenslander "who is even remotely aware of the state's history" should be wary of a government interfering with the criminal justice system.
"History teaches us that claims that repressive laws will reduce serious crime are usually hollow and that laws which erode individual freedom and expand a state's power over its citizens are fraught with peril," he writes.
"Although free societies provide opportunities which criminals can exploit, in totalitarian states the worst criminals are commonly those in power."
Mr Fitzgerald says there is an uncomfortable similarity between what is happening in Queensland and demagogues, who are described as political leaders who appeal to the emotions, fears and ignorance of less-educated voters to gain power and promote their own motives.
Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has dismissed the criticism.
"Mr Fitzgerald is entitled to his opinion... That's the great democracy we live in," he said.
"We're getting on with the job, we're doing what Queenslanders elected us to do 18 months ago and that's to restore the balance of justice in Queensland and get the balance of scales right.

"Two-strike sex offender laws, serious assaults on police officers, graffiti offences, youth justice offences - the new criminal motorcycle gang laws and the sex offender laws are an extension to those already tough laws." 

NEWMAN GOVERNMENT STARTS WATER AND POWER ASSET SALES

Media release.

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the revelation the Newman Government has engaged investment banks to begin the sale process for some of Queensland’s most valuable state-owned assets proves it can’t be trusted.

“The Newman Government always maintained it would not sell assets without a mandate at a future election but is now embarking on a record asset-sales program including the electricity and water network in regional areas with no mandate,” said Mr Pitt.

The Australian Financial Review has revealed that Macquarie Group has been engaged to prepare SunWater assets worth up to $980 million for sale while Rothschild has been asked to start the sale process for the $10 billion poles and wires electricity business, Powerlink.

Mr Pitt said Premier Campbell Newman now had to be honest with Queenslanders.

“He needs to tell us how much he is spending on these consultants and how many jobs are at risk from the sale of these assets,” he said.

“It looks as if Treasurer Tim Nicholls is winning the internal argument within the LNP over asset sales."

“When the Treasurer was asked in Parliament last week if he stood by his endorsement of an Infrastructure Partnerships Australia report which recommended the sale of $48 billion in electricity assets he confirmed that he did."

“Meanwhile the Premier said Powerlink, and electricity poles and wires business, were not being considered for sale. Mr Newman said ‘The poles and wires transmissions stuff, I believe, should be owned by the people because they are natural monopolies.’

“It is clear that the Treasurer is now running the Newman Government and the LNP is determined to push forward with these asset sales whether Queenslanders like it or not,” said Mr Pitt.

Earlier this year there was a fire sale of seven Brisbane CBD office buildings for $226 million less than their book value. Factoring in new rental costs the total cost to the taxpayer of these sales will exceed $750 million.

The Newman Government has also sold TAFE sites across Queensland and raised $58 million from the sale of school property in the last financial year.

“Nobody voted for this program of sacking, selling and slashing,” said Mr Pitt.

“Labor learnt the lesson the hard way. We received a strong message that Queenslanders do not support asset sales and privatisation."

“Now Queenslanders need to send Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls the same message.”



Saturday, 26 October 2013

Is Tony Abbott, Non compos mentis?

It has been reported that Tony Abbott said and I quote, “the carbon tax was a socialist policy in disguise” and "Let's be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism," also "That's what the carbon tax was."

When I heard that our Prime Minister Tony Abbott said this to the Liberal Party faithful in Tasmania, I thought it could of come straight out of the Movie “Dr. Strangelove.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlSQAZEp3PA

He really doesn't get it,  Carbon Tax = reduces the amount of Carbon going into the atmosphere, there by reducing the effect of Climate Change on Planet Earth, pretty straightforward to me! 

The Worker

Fitzgerald Inquiry: The Judiciary and Commissions of Inquiry

Section: 10.6.4

The judiciary is increasingly unwilling, and properly reluctant, to conduct inquiries. Although a Commission of Inquiry performs functions of a quasi-judicial nature, calling for the evaluation of material and the formation of opinions on matters for which judicial skills and experience are suitable, judicial principles, practices and procedures are not always fully applicable to inquiries, and the involvement of judges inadministrative functions (other than those related to the exercise of judicial power) has serious disadvantages.

  • The separation of judicial power from legislative and executive power is fundamental to the system of checks and balances designed to achieve a stable democracy. The distinction should not be blurred by those who perform judicial functions also engaging in superficially similar quasi-judicial functions on behalf of the Executive Government.
  • The essential independence and impartiality of the judiciary, or at least the almost equally important public acceptance of those judicial qualities, particularly in a social environment in which much litigation, and almost all criminal litigation, involves disputes between individual citizens and the State, should not be compromised by judicial officers mixing judicial functions with functions on behalf of the Executive, especially where the issues may attract political or other controversy. 
  • The primary responsibility of the judicial system is the provision of speedy and efficient justice according to law, and its capacity to perform that function is diminished by any requirement that it perform other tasks on behalf of the Executive.

FOUNDED ON LIBERTY.

*THE WORKER*
Brisbane, January 5, 1895.


Bystanders' Notebook.

SOCIALISM IN OUR TIME.



Capitalism, being an historic category, must be superseded by Socialism. This is my view. To all those who find an echo of their hearts in the motto engraven on the Labour oriflamme, “Socialism in our time;” to all who agree with me that Socialism is the policy of men who think for themselves, I have a few words to say. “Many flattering pictures have hitherto been placed before you; I come to announce a few useful truths.” To those who condemn, who vilify, traduce and strive to blast the sincerity of all who advocate the new doctrine, let us extend our pity; to those whose eyes are filled with the dust wherein they grovel round the money fald stools of the modern Moloch let us give our disgust; but to those whose ears are open to “the sad music of humanity” ringing forever in an immeasurable moan of starving men, women, and children who suffer hopelessly let us give our assistance and our aid in all ways that conduce to speeding the advent of the better time. To the anti-reformers, the toute and buttoners of the political thimble-riggers and Monte de Piete men Socialism is anarchism differently spelled, and in this belief they are daily educated by the “right thinking” variety of newspaper, whose existence depends upon the expertness and luck of the thimbleriggers aforesaid, whose proprietary are the high priests of the image on the fald stool,whose god is piusde and whose gospel is humbug.

* * *

WHY NOT!


Socialism in our time” Why not! What is to prevent it? Nothing but the decay of intellect. Wherever there is brains there is also a possibility of reform. Lasalle, the epoch-maker, “the messiah of the nineteenth century, “as Heine called him, proved this, and who shall say that there are not many mute and as yet inglorious Lasalles among us to-day. The era of the “fourth estate,” the people, has only begun; it has not yet ended. It is only the Helene Von Domniges who are dying out. The world, swinging sluggishly to the beat of time since 1848, has evolved and demonstrated many unassailable truths, and one of these is the often derided “majesty of the people.” “I give no weight to the signification of words according to the absurd language of prejudice, “ says Mirabean in one of his discourses. “I here speak the language of liberty. When Chatham compressed the charter of nations in a single expression and pronounced the 'majesty of the people'; when the Americans opposed the 'natural rights' of the people to all the trash published against them, they showed they understood the true signification and full energy of an expression to which freedom given so great a value.”

* * *

THE MAJESTY OF THE PEOPLE.

In this one expression, “the majesty of the people,” is found a direct answer to the craven utterances of the pessimistic crowd who deride the soundness of the motto “Socialism in our time.” Pessimism is the faith of cowards, and no one recognising the true value of liberty will allow it a place in his vocabulary. It is only for those who are content to resign all claims to that responsibility which is said to belong only to the wealthy (a new chapter in the gospel of cant). Responsibility has no foundation except that of right, and the rights of wealth are as arbitrary and conventional as those of poverty. In the broad and far-reaching motto of “The Three Musketeers” - “One for all; all for one” - the real definition of right is found. That is the grand responsibility which every man has for the welfare of his fellow man. This also is the keynote of Socialism, and must necessarily find a place in the gospel of all who desire the coming of the new regime. As to the manner in which this new state of existence shall be arrived at, whether peaceably or otherwise, it is a matter which rests as much with the classes themselves as with the people. The projection of such a state, that is the reason which prompts the declaration of a motto such as that adopted by the apostles of the New Order is in itself conclusive proof that a pressing want, a genuine grievance exists.

* * *

FOUNDED ON LIBERTY.

Movements of this kind are not alone, as the impecunious literary slaves of a servile press sweepingly assert, founded on such catch phrases as “ living wage,” tyrannous suppression,” “equality,” &c. They are founded on the one grand principle that animates the hearts of all true men – that of liberty. They are the physical expression of protest on the part of those who find themselves being slowly and surely ousted from participation in that part of their colony's progress which they themselves have helped to establish – i.e. its wealth. It is their recognition of the fact that they are being forced into the condition of mere slaves, and are therefore compelled as a last resource to unite in order that they may be true to their manhood and sell their liberty as dearly as possible. And it is the recognition of this latter fact that causes the rabid organs of so-called public opinion to rave at the heretical doctrines of those who dare to blazon forth the true condition of the people in the motto “Socialism in our time.” As to whether Socialism means Iconoclasm, Anarchism, Nihilism, or even Theurgism, it does not apparently trouble these grovelsome individuals and their toadies. They are too much engrossed expounding, for the enlightenment of the ignorant, an unwholesomely hashed-up mixture of lamely expressed excuses for the “depression” to do more than hurl nasty epathetic at the party whose real offence in the prosselytism of the workers who while licked the dust from the shoes of the Moloch who sits on the fald stool stuffed with bank notes.


Climate change linked to bushfire risk says Environment Department website

Extract from The Guardian Website:

Site contradicts Tony Abbott's statement that link is 'hogwash', pointing to 'growing and robust body of evidence'



Screen shot climatechange.gov.au
Screen shot from climatechange.gov.au: 'Impacts of climate change will mostly be felt through extreme events.' Photograph: climatechange.gov.au
Tony Abbott’s insistence that any link between climate change and bushfires is “complete hogwash” is contradicted by information published on the Department of Environment’s own website, it has emerged.
In an interview with News Corporation columnist Andrew Bolt, Abbott rubbished claims that climate change was influencing the New South Wales bushfires, adding that people who make such claims are “desperate to find anything that they think might pass as ammunition for their cause”.
Earlier this week, Abbott said that Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, was “talking out of her hat” for linking rising temperatures to increased bushfires.
Meanwhile, the environment minister, Greg Hunt, said Bureau of Meteorology staff have told him that no single event can be linked to climate change, citing a Wikipedia article as proof of Australia’s long history of repeated bushfires.
However, information on a website hosted by Hunt’s own department makes it clear that there is a heightened risk of more frequent and severe bushfires due to global warming.
A climatechange.gov.au document on the indicators of climate change states there is a “growing and robust body of evidence that climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events”.
“Australia has experienced an increasing number and intensity of heatwaves, bushfires, flooding and droughts in recent decades. For example, weather associated with high fire danger has shown a rapid increase in the late 1990s to early 2000s at many locations in south-eastern Australia.”
The document adds that while it is “difficult to isolate” the role of climate change in any given event, “long-term records demonstrate that we are now experiencing changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme events.”
A separate document on “extreme climate events” states: “Impacts of climate change will mostly be felt through extreme events.
“A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, duration and intensity of droughts, floods, storms, heatwaves and fire and will test the resilience of natural and human coping abilities.
“The impact of extreme events has significant cost to the economy, society and the environment.”
It adds: “The ACCSP (Australian Climate Change Science Program) investigates extreme events to determine likely changes in their behaviour. For example, fire weather displayed a rapid increase in the late-1990s to early-2000s at many locations in south-eastern Australia.”
The climatechange.gov.au website was used by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, which was wound up by the previous Labor government in March.
The functions and information held by the former department are being transferred over to a revamped Department of Industry, although the website is still branded with Department of Environment insignia.
The government’s own publicly available advice echoes findings released on Friday by the Climate Council, which states there is a “clear link” between bushfires and climate change.
The independent body, which was resurrected as a privately funded institution after the Coalition abolished the Climate Commission in September, said the NSW fires are being “influenced” by a long-term drying trend in south-east Australia.
According to Hunt at the time, the Climate Commission was dismantled due to the plentiful climate advice coming from the Department of Environment and government agencies such as the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology.
Kevin Hennessy, principal research scientist at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, said that fire risks are set to increase in the coming years due to climate change.
“While it’s almost impossible to attribute an individual extreme weather event to climate change, the risk of fire has increased in south-east Australia due to a warming and drying trend that is partly due to increases in greenhouse gases,” he said.
“An increase in fire-weather risk is very likely over future decades. The rate of increase depends on whether global greenhouse gases follow a low or high emission scenario. Carbon dioxide emissions have been tracking the high scenario over the past decade.”
Abbott’s stance on the link between bushfires and climate change has angered Australia’s Pacific island neighbours, as well as domestic political opponents.
“Tony Abbott is making Australia an international laughing stock by continuing to deny the link between climate change and the probability of extreme bushfire conditions,” said Christine Milne, leader of the Greens.
“The biggest sources of climate hogwash in Australia are our prime minister and environment minister. They are an embarrassment. It would be laughable if it were not so serious.
“Continuing to deny that the ferocious bushfires that have resulted in deaths and heartache for thousands have anything to do with global warming is foolish, but tearing down action to address it is negligent.
“The weight of scientific evidence is immense, paralleled only by the climate hogwash of our prime minister in conversation with Andrew Bolt.”
Hunt’s office has been contacted for a response.

Expert lashes Queensland Premier Campbell Newman's 'reprehensible' swipes at judicial system

Extract from ABC News Website:

Updated 11 hours 1 minute ago
A legal expert has described Premier Campbell Newman's recent swipe at Queensland's judicial system as "unprecedented" and "reprehensible".
Mr Newman is on the defensive over his state's new laws aimed at keeping serial sex offenders in jail and destroying criminal gang networks in Queensland.
On Thursday the Premier said that judges and magistrates who criticised his government's new powers to overrule the judiciary were living in "ivory towers".
He has also labelled critics of the laws as "apologists for paedophiles".
"What the community is saying is you need to listen," he said.
"You need to come out of your ivory towers. You need to mix with the ordinary men and women across Queensland who've said 'we've had enough of people who are a threat to the community being released'."
Mr Newman also said he was concerned by recent court decisions granting bail to alleged outlaw bikies.
"Queenslanders are sick of these people who get appointed into these jobs who then are totally unaccountable," he said.
"Judges and magistrates don't actually have to go for re-election - they're there appointed, they have tenure, they're there until a retiring age and I can't influence them and I don't try to influence them.
"The only people saying they're against these laws are people who are apologists for sex offenders and paedophiles," he said.


Expert says comments are 'unprecedented in Australia in modern times'

Constitutional law expert Professor Gerard Carney finds Mr Newman's comments hard to believe.

As someone who has invested a career in constitutional law, he says he has never heard of a government in Australian modern history accusing members of the judiciary of living in "ivory towers" and being unaccountable to the community.
"I think this is unprecedented in Australia in modern times and it's incomprehensible," he said.
"One of the paramount principles that we have enjoyed is the benefit of is public confidence in the integrity of our judges and our courts.
"That is in fact now a constitutional requirement that nothing be done in a way to impair public confidence in that institutional integrity.
"To have the Premier come out in those terms is appalling, it damages our constitutional system and the attorney traditionally has had the role to protect the courts from that sort of scandalous comment."


Legal community incensed by Newman's comments

While current judges and magistrates are hamstrung from responding, the legal fraternity is outraged.
The Queensland Law and Justice Institute has been hastily formed in response to the war of words, concerned the debate is not reflecting the gravity of the new laws.
The laws give Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie final say on whether serial sex offenders are released.
They also reverse the presumption of bail for bikies, and impose lengthy mandatory sentences for members of criminal gangs.
Institute president Peter Callaghan SC says the bikie laws could be abused, with police using them against other groups of people.
And he says the State Government should be defending judges and magistrates instead of attacking them.
"The whole concept of Westminster democracy depends upon an independent judiciary, and here is our judiciary being attacked by the Government," he said.
"Because they stand apart, above the fray, judges can't defend themselves from attack. It's traditionally the job of the Attorney-General."

Qld anti-bikie laws include:

  • Extra powers for CMC
  • Bikie-only prison at Woodford, north of Brisbane
  • Mandatory sentences of 15 years for serious crimes committed as part of gang activity, on top of the normal penalty
  • Club office bearers will be sentenced to another 10 years in jail, and parole will only be granted if the offender cooperates with police
  • Convicted bikies subjected to strict drug tests and searches in prison
  • No gym facilities or TV access in jail
  • Phone calls in jail to be monitored, except those relating to legal reps
  • Inmates' mail opened and censored
  • Visitor contact restricted to one hour a week
  • Bikie criminals in other state prisons to be transferred to Woodford
  • Introducing a licensing regime for tattoo parlours and artists, banning bikie gang members
  • Motorcycles to be crushed as punishment for certain crimes

Friday, 25 October 2013

CALL FOR BLEIJIE TO RULE OUT SELLING WORKERS COMPENSATION SCHEME

Media Release.

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt is calling on the Attorney-General to rule-out selling Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme to private insurers.

Mr Pitt is warning workers that last week’s attack on their rights through changes to WorkCover could simply be a prelude to privatisation and further changes to the scheme.

“The Newman Government has made no secret of its desire to privatise as many government services as possible and I have no doubt that WorkCover could be a future target,” he said.

“It worries me that when I asked the Attorney-General if the Government intended to privatise WorkCover he first dodged the question and then gave an answer that is, at best, open to interpretation."

“He said ‘I currently have no plan to privatise Q-Comp’ (Hansard17 October 2013 Page 3518)

“That was an evasive answer and indicates it could be a future objective. He could have ruled it out but it is telling that he didn’t."

“Q-Comp was formerly the scheme’s independent regulator, but Mr Bleijie’s changes have shifted it to be part of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.

“The WorkCover annual report confirmed that it returned a profit of $517 million, which is up from $199 million. This is a financially secure scheme."

“When you look at the fact that there is a scheme with a half a billion dollar profit – now with a 5% threshold – it could be considered an attractive proposition if that is the way you think about the scheme."

“The Attorney-General is restructuring the scheme in a way that makes it easier to privatise and we know that private sector insurers are already sniffing around."

“Michael Crandon, the LNP Member for Coomera and past chair of the Parliamentary Finance and Administration Committee, informed Parliament last week that he was visited by ‘bigwigs from the head office of one particular insurance company’ to explain why the Newman Government should privatise the workers’ compensation scheme.”

Mr Pitt said the unnecessary tinkering with the best WorkCover scheme in the country would not only make it more at risk of privatisation, it would also potentially set it on a slippery slope to failure.

“The government in South Australia recently announced its compensation scheme had been so badly damaged by amendments and changes over the years it was beyond redemption,” he said.

“The decommissioning of S.A. WorkCover is a graphic warning of what could happen here in Queensland because of the Attorney-General’s unwarranted interference.”


Mr Pitt said Mr Bleijie has not ruled out job losses within Q-Comp. The regulator has 100 full-time employees whose jobs would be at risk if there’s a sell-off.

Shocking Attitude Of Ipswich MP Typical Of LNP Government

Media Release.

Ipswich West MP Sean Choat’s offensive and outrageous claim that he is happy to be known as a “Stalinist” should strike fear into the heart of every south-east Queensland resident who believed a vote for him was a vote for democratic government

Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller said Mr Choat’s odious statement today was possibly the most repulsive made so far on the Newman government’s new laws in regard to outlaw gangs but typified the attitude of a Premier and Attorney-General who were determined to transport Queensland back three decades.

“Sean Choat has captured the philosophy of this government in one fell swoop – a government that believes it can dictate how the court sentences criminals, a government that has little concept of how the legal system works, led by a Premier who has lost the plot,” Mrs Miller said.

“This MP in particular has no idea what he is talking about. He is merely parroting lines prepared for him by the Premier who also has no clue about the separation of powers and the need for an independent judicial system."

“Ordinary, decent people – people with a conscience – are right to be offended that Mr Choat wants to be seen as a Stalinist and they should be horrified that he describes the separation of powers between government and the judiciary as “claptrap”.

“Mr Choat and the Premier may have forgotten or never known the lessons from the Fitzgerald Inquiry that found Liberal and National party governments had presided over rampant corruption."

“They should take a history lesson and learn how badly corruption got out of control courtesy of a Premier and government who also had no knowledge of the separation of power. It’s critical that the separation of powers is maintained. It’s critical that the judiciary maintains its independence."

“It is not the Premier’s place, it is not the Attorney-General’s place and it is certainly not Mr Choat’s place to dictate to the courts how they should be sentencing people convicted of criminal offences.

“His draconian attitude is helping in no uncertain terms to take Queensland back to the dark Joh era of 25 years ago."

“As he continues to toe the government’s line – blissfully ignorant of the past – I suggest he read up on history to learn what became of the Bjelke-Petersen government and the consequences of that government."

“I’m sure Ipswich residents did not realise they were voting at the last election for a person who calls himself a Stalinist – but they will now be aware of his disgraceful attitude the next time they come to vote.”



Thursday, 24 October 2013

Gold Coast Crime Summit Will Hear From Locals This Week

Media Release.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin has urged all Gold Coast residents to have their say this week at the Opposition’s Gold Coast Crime Summit.

Mr Mulherin said the Summit would give local residents, business owners and crime experts the opportunity to put forward their ideas on how to tackle Gold Coast crime.

“This is the opportunity for anyone who lives or works on the Gold Coast to have their say about an important issue, particularly considering the region was the scene of the incident which sparked the crackdown on gang-related crime,” Mr Mulherin said.

“We need to get the true facts about crime on the table and hear the range of views from the community and the experts."

“We want to hear from people who have been affected by crime, community members who are concerned about crime rates as well as community perceptions and expectations in relation to the on-going fight against criminal activity.”

Mr Mulherin said the Opposition had decided to hold the Summit after the Newman government declined an offer of a bi-partisan approach to addressing crime – including gang-related crime -  and the perceptions of crime on the Gold Coast.

The Opposition Crime Summit will be held at the Southport Community Centre at 6 Lawson Street, this Friday (October 25) from 10am until midday.


Bushfires and Climate Change in Australia.



Learn about the link between climate change and extreme weather from the previous Climate Commission’s quick Extreme Weather Summary Report.
Australia has always been a land of extremes. however, the basic features of the climate system have now shifted, changing the conditions for all weather. We live in a hotter climate than 50 years ago, and this extra energy in the system is influencing many types of extreme weather events, including conditions that lead to bushfires.
Australia has a long history of fire and already faces the regular risk of serious and extreme fire danger conditions. Over the past decade large and uncontrollable fires destroyed 500 houses in Canberra in 2003, bushfires in Victoria in 2009 took 173 lives and destroyed over 2,000 houses and in 2013 large fires in Tasmania destroyed nearly 200 properties and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people from the Tasman Peninsula.
Climate change can affect bushfire conditions by increasing the probability of extreme fire weather days. Many parts of Australia, including southern New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and parts of South Australia have seen an increase in extreme fire weather over the last 30 years. the projections for the future indicate a significant increase in dangerous fire weather for southeast Australia.
Learn more about the link between climate change and extreme weather from the previous Climate Commission’s Extreme Weather Report or check out this quick Extreme Weather Summary Report.
The Climate Council will be releasing a report on the link between bushfires and extreme weather in November 2013.