July articles have moved to the Archives
Click here to see them

August 2015

Read in 144 Countries

31 August 2015
by Giles Parkinson

W.A. says solar is the future as it prepares to dump coal

The West Australian government appears to have overcome years of institutionalised resistance and recognized that the state’s energy future will be built around solar energy.

In a landmark speech this week, Energy Minister and state treasurer Mike Nahan said solar PV would meet the daytime electricity needs of WA within the next decade. Nahan noted that solar was cheap, and democratic, and was likely to account for all new generation capacity, and it would displace the state’s ageing coal generators. [Read More...]

30 August 2015
by Peter Brent

The by-election that won’t tell us much but means a lot

Potential backfire? Mobile ads funded by the CFMEU for the union campaign against the Coalition in Canning.

By-elections sometimes reflect important political trends, and sometimes they don’t. So why are we watching Canning so closely?

It was Saturday 26 March 1988, and Coalition supporters were cock-a-hoop. Just a week earlier twelve years of NSW Labor government had been swept away, big time, and now the federal electorate of Port Adelaide had swung to the Liberals by a whopping 11.1 per cent at a by-election caused by the resignation of Labor’s Mick Young. [Read More...]

30 August 2015
by AR

ASIC do nothing as Fairfax Media lose almost a half a billion in failed property projects

Fairfax Media has lost almost a half a billion in failed property projects from mostly mum and dad investors, yet ASIC has chosen not to do anything about it.

As a result of two failed property projects in recent years, Fairfax Media has lost almost half a billion dollars in investor money, primarily consisting of mum and dad investors and even some institutional investors. [Read More...]

30 August 2015
by Daniel Ellery

The West Papuan nightmare: Australia’s Inconvenient Truth

West Papuan protest

There is a human rights catastrophe happening right on our doorstep in West Papua. The Abbott Government is not only ignoring it but is complicit in providing military support to Indonesia.

A genocide of no small proportions has been taking place right under our noses for some time now. West Papuans have been the victims of a brutal military regime by the Indonesian government since the 1960s. [Read More...]

29 August 2015
by Mark Kenny

Border Force police action Operation Fortitude a case of uniformed insanity

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg.

No matter who decided it was a good idea for the newly uniformed paramilitary types of the Australian Border Force to team up with police to randomly intercept citizens in Melbourne for visa checks this weekend, it was a bad look for the organisation and a black eye for the Abbott government by association. [Read More...]

29 August 2015
by Mike Seccombe

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Christian right

Tony Abbott before reading during a liturgy at St Charbel’s Maronite church

As Australia becomes less religious, churches have insinuated themselves into politics and gained particular control over Tony Abbott.

Introducing himself to the Liberal Party’s West Australian state council meeting a week ago, the newly endorsed candidate for the Canning byelection, Andrew Hastie, recalled one particularly happy memory of his childhood.

“I was born in regional Victoria in a town called Wangaratta,” he said. “My father started a church there from scratch and I travelled with him in the early years around the vast parish… I have sweet memories of those times.”

A little later in his speech, he identified himself as a regular churchgoer and spoke about the work he and his wife do with their church group.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, of course. But ask yourself this: how many job applicants in Australia would feel the need to stress their piety in the interview? [Read More...]

29 August 2015
by Paul Bongiorno

Embattled PM ignores carbon, backs Hockey's tax cut pledge

Frustration with the lack of leadership coming from Canberra prompted two of the nation’s more influential newspapers to stage what was billed as a reform summit this week. But instead of a far-reaching agenda, on display was the sort of self-interested myopia the organisers bemoaned.

Few could disagree with the scene-setting statement: “For too long our politicians have been engaged in bitter personal conflicts, across different parties and within them.” They chided elected leaders for forgetting that Australians want and expect to see our country being well run. [Read More...]

29 August 2015
by Paul Bongiorno

Tony Abbott's game of fallow the leader

Like the little boy in the Dutch fable, Tony Abbott stuck his finger in the dyke this week, hoping to hold back the spring of cabinet leaks. In the original, the little boy saves his country. After a night of cold fortitude, the hole is patched. Abbott is unlikely to be so lucky. The leaks keep coming as the pressure on the dam wall of his government builds to bursting.

You know a leader is in trouble when his party officially briefs that the prime minister read the riot act to his cabinet colleagues on Monday night, warning them there would be consequences for anyone caught leaking. It didn’t stop cabinet’s agenda, the one that warned against leaking, being leaked to two media outlets. [Read More...]

28 August 2015
by Max Costello

Achieving policy ends via unlawful means: Will that be Abbott's defining legacy?

As definers of poor government, Abbott's dishonesty and chaotic incompetence are stand outs. But implementing policy via unlawful means deserves to go down in history (if the charges are laid and found proven) for something even more distinctive — its criminality.

Two years ago, on 7 September 2013, the ultra-conservative Liberal-National Party Coalition, led by Tony Abbott, ousted the centre left Australian Labor Party government. The pro-business Liberal Party and the smaller, rural-based National Party came to power promising, above all, to restore trust in government.
As Mr Abbott said in launching the Coalition’s election campaign on 24 August 2013:

“This election is all about trust”.

A mere eight months after taking office, the Coalition had destroyed that trust — via its first budget, brought down on 14 May 2014, which broke a raft of pre-election promises. As The Sydney Morning Herald noted next day in relation to only a few promises [Read More...]

28 August 2015
by Joanna Mather

Politicians urged to end $21b super fees 'gouge'

National Seniors Chief: Michael O'Neil

Both main parties need to devise policies to prevent the fees charged by superannuation funds carving large chunks out of people's retirement savings, National Seniors Australia says.

Wednesday's National Reform Summit heard that fees associated with super accounts cost Australians $21 billion a year, the equivalent of half the national age pension bill. [Read More...]

28 August 2015
by Laura Tingle

Despite reform talk and older voters, Canning might shock

In Sydney on Wednesday, business leaders, trade unionists and the welfare sector were discussing policy issues that they don't think our politicians are talking about.

Treasurer Joe Hockey, after opening the National Reform Summit talking about how it was consumers not governments that were determining the future of the economy, went off to talk about the Republic. In turn, all his colleagues were furious because he hadn't talked to them about that first and were furious that this talk was a "distraction" from the government's message that he should be talking about. [Read More...]

27 August 2015
by Kate M

The Republic Debate Is Back: Is This Hockey's Marriage Equality?

Joe Hockey – along with Peter FitzSimons (head of the Australian Republican Movement) and Labor Senator Katy Gallagher – announced today that they are putting the Republic back on the table for discussion. At a time when Hockey is struggling for popularity, and when even dangling tax cuts before people isn’t winning him any votes, a cynical person might wonder if this is Hockey’s attempt to get back behind a barrow that others will be happy to push along with him. [Read More...]

27 August 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Why Barack Obama gets solar, and Tony Abbott doesn’t

Last week Tony Abbott was sounding all concerned about the future of the planet. The world only has one, he said accurately, and we should really protect it. But not if it meant sacrificing the economy for the sake of the environment.

Those comments were ridiculed by leading economic commentators such as Fairfax Media’s Ross Gittins, who noted that the economy is actually a “wholly owned subsidiary of the environment”, and on social media: “If you think the economy is more important than the environment, try counting your money while holding your breath,” noted one Tweet. [Read More...]

27 August 2015
by John Passant

Tax cuts for the rich? Seriously Mr Hockey?

Treasurer Hockey's latest thought bubble is to have the workers pay for tax cuts for the rich by imposing 15 per cent GST on fresh food, health and education​.

The other day, Australian Treasurer, Joe Hockey, talked in vague terms about tax reform. What did come out of his thought bubble of a speech was a commitment to cut the top marginal tax rate (which is 45% of every dollar for those whose income goes over $180,000) and the next level down (37% on the income greater than $80,000). [Read More...]

26 August 2015
by Dr Mark Rolfe

Tame media lets adversarial Abbott play race card in Chinese trade deal debate

PM Abbott trying the race card over Labor's response to the Chinese free trade deal wasn't as surprising as the mainstream media's blind acceptance of the slur.

It’s not often these days that Billy Hughes gets a guernsey in political debate. But there was a time, in 1919, when this prime minister (1916-1923) was considered a national national hero for his defence of the White Australia policy against the U.S. and Japan.

These days, Hughes is a national embarrassment for this same stance. Times change and Australia changes, and so does the nature of our political debate. [Read More...]

26 August 2015
by David Ramli

Secret NBN plan aims to help big brands like Woolworths and others sell internet access

NBN Co. chief executive Bill Morrow says new players like Woolworths must be helped onto the national broadband network.

NBN Co. is working on a secret plan to help retailers like Woolworths and other companies compete with phone companies to sell internet access.

The national broadband network is made up of 121 hubs across the country that connect to homes and businesses and are built by NBN. Phone companies that sell NBN services across the country, such as Telstra and Optus, must build or rent cables to connect all these facilities - a move that can cost tens of millions of dollars, preventing non-traditional players like supermarkets from reselling NBN services. [Read More...]

26 August 2015
by Philip Coorey

Tony Abbott offers Jacqui Lambie confidential union briefing

Senator Jacqui Lambie believes the royal commission report should be made available to senators.

The Abbott government has offered a briefing on a secret report by the trade union royal commission - the contents of which pose "grave threats to the power and authority of the Australian state" - but has "emphatically denied" the briefing was offered as a bargaining chip to secure political support to re-establish the building industry watchdog. [Read More...]

25 August 2015
by Philip Coorey

Joe Hockey predicts repeat of 2004 election win

Revelations this week that Social Services Minister Scott Morrison, favoured by conservatives to replace Mr Abbott should there be a push, had dinner with Rupert Murdoch last week has done little to dampen internal scuttlebutt.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has shrugged off another bad poll for the government by pointing to John Howard's come-from-behind in against Mark Latham in 2004.

Mr Hockey was responding to the latest fortnightly Newspoll which, like last week's Fairfax/Ipsos poll, has the government lagging Labor by 54 per cent to 46 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis. [Read More...]

25 August 2015
by Clem Macintyre

The Xenophon phenomenon

Nick Xenophon is breathing down the Coalition’s neck in his home state. In a tight federal election, the implications could be significant.

Prime ministers are normally not frequent visitors to South Australia. With just eleven seats in the House of Representatives, voters here know that their interests don’t often rank high among any federal government’s concerns. New South Wales, Victoria and southeast Queensland, where the marginal federal seats are concentrated, inevitably command most of the attention of the major parties. [Read More...]

25 August 2015
by Michael Taylor

The Abbott Government keeps backing the wrong horse

I’m not much of a punter. I’ve ventured to the track a handful of times only to invariably put my money on horses that ran last. Truth is, I wouldn’t know a good horse from a bad one. I was more or less throwing away money on something that was never going to win.

A bit like the Abbott Government, in a way. [Read More...]

25 August 2015
by Vanessa Kairies

The great land grab of 2015 continues...

It is no coincidence that the Abbott Government chose WA as the location for their conference last weekend. With the Canning by-election only a few weeks away the opportunity to do a bit of campaigning and ‘be seen’ could not be missed.

And it is no coincidence that the Aboriginal Recognition Bill progressed through WA Parliament before the Abbott circus comes to town. It progressed without any statewide consultation, which is disturbing given that Tony Abbott for one said he was open to consensus on this matter. It is perfectly clear that he, his government, or the WA Government have no intention of listening or discussing this matter with a major stakeholder – the First Nation people. They only listen or consult with the ‘chosen ones’. [Read More...]

24 August 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Regulators delay network saving proposals for another 5 years

Rules that could have reduced network bills have been delayed another five years, following fierce resistance from coal generators. The decision could mean higher bills, and more grid defections, as networks and retailers engage in a turf war over battery storage.

New rules that could have encouraged electricity networks and to help consumers adopt technologies such as battery storage, solar PV and demand management controls have been delayed for another five years, potentially adding billions of dollars in unnecessary network costs and to the bills of electricity consumers. [Read More...]

24 August 2015
by Judith Ireland & Fergus Hunter

'Policy paralysis': Tony Abbott's government the slowest for nearly five decades

The Abbott government has come close to the bill-passing low of the 1960s.

The Abbott government is stuck in a "policy paralysis" that has seen fewer bills finalised in its first 700 days in office than any other federal government since the late 1960s.

The Fairfax Media analysis of post-World War II Australian governments was conducted after the federal cabinet was reported to have met without any formal submissions last week and MPs despaired at time-filling debates in Parliament. [Read More...]

24 August 2015
by Callan Boys

Fat Duck Melbourne closes and flies home

Heston Blumenthal says the Melbourne Fat Duck experiment was a success.

The "sound of the sea" has been switched off and the last snail porridge served. Fat Duck is flying home.

The last Fat Duck service at Crown Melbourne was on Sunday, a private lunch to celebrate exactly 20 years since the restaurant opened in the tiny village of Bray, England.

The incredible experience featured dishes Blumenthal hasn't put on a menu in many years such as crab risotto with crab ice-cream, and edible white chocolate candle filled with caviar. There was lasagne of marron with pig's trotter and truffle, hay-smoked veal sweetbread with cockles a la plancha, braised lettuce and triple-cooked chips and a mango and Douglas fir puree with bavarois of lychee and mango and blackcurrant sorbet. [Read More...]

23 August 2015
by Lachlan Barker

Do we want to stop governments flouting the law?
Are you serious Senator Brandis?

Our chief law-maker, Attorney-General George Brandis, says the Abbott government is above the law and wants to appeal our rights as citizens to challenge this in the courts. As these self-same citizens are also voters, has he now completely lost the plot?

There has been a lot going on in recent weeks while we wait for the Abbott government to implode.

It would be hard to come up with a more turbulent period for any Australian government in living memory. Indeed most comparisons are to the final days of the Whitlam government.

It started with #choppergate and the expenses scandal swirling around speaker Bronwyn Bishop. Then came the Dyson Heydon controversy at the Royal Commission into trade unions. And now Kathy Jackson has been ordered to pay a staggering $1.4 in compo to the Health Services Union (HSU). As Peter Wicks reports there could be more trouble to come for Kathy, the former pin-up girl of the federal government whom Abbott lauded as “heroic”. [Read More...]

22 August 2015
by Daniel Ellery

Abbott's fear-mongering threatens our civil liberties

There are ominous signs our civil liberties will increasingly come under threat as Abbott's continued dive in the polls brings on more hyped-up terror threats.

Almost twenty years ago, Bill Clinton signed an act that has had considerable ramifications around the globe; the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Act, which effectively rendered the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 all but useless. The Posse Comitatus Act was created to limit the powers of the U.S. Federal Government in using its military personnel to act as domestic law enforcement personnel.

In 1993, the FBI in conjunction with the U.S. Military stormed into a compound owned by an Evangelical Christian group in Waco, Texas, killing 76 innocent people. Among the casualties were over 20 children.

There have been ominous signs supposing our fragile civil liberties have been increasingly at risk here in Australia, for a number of years. Tony Abbotts’ draconian fear-orientated government is quite fond of reminding us that terrorist’s are lurking in our own backyard. [Read More...]

21 August 2015
by Waleed Aly

Abbott is losing the plot in his war on environmentalists

We will be subjected to the Abbott Government's nonsensical hyperbole as long as it insists on casting environmentalists as a special interest group that threatens the liberal order.

Few things seem to rile the Abbott government quite as much as isolated Federal Court decisions. You'll recall that before this whole Carmichael coal mine episode there was Andrew Bolt's section 18C affair. Tony Abbott was in opposition in that case, but this difference aside, the similarities are striking.

In both cases, the good guys lost. In both cases, they were the victims of pesky activist types. And in both cases the laws in question had been in force for some 15 or so years, having barely been used with any success. [Read More...]

21 August 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Why ‘God parity’ will be the end of centralised generation

Ever heard of the expression “grid parity”? It’s the term coined to describe the point when electricity generated from rooftop solar panels is cheaper than power purchased from the grid.

In Australia, it occurred in around 2012, and now the cost of solar has continued to fall so quickly that the cost of solar generation is probably little more than one-third of the cost of grid power.

Grid parity is seen to be highly disruptive because of the changes it causes to the energy industry, and the sudden empowerment of customers who are no longer just consumers, but pro-sumers. They don’t just have parity with the grid, but increasingly parity with the power companies themselves. [Read More...]

21 August 2015
by Ellen Sandell MP

What would it take to put solar panels on the MCG?

In the cities of the future, our iconic buildings and institutions will be powered by renewable energy. Powering iconic buildings with renewables not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but it sends a strong signal to people about the value of renewables. It inspires people and shows them how it can be done.

Right now, an important opportunity has just opened up with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announcing a $100 million solar photovoltaics competitive round. ARENA is seeking to build large-scale solar panel arrays across Australia, and the Victorian Government could partner to put solar panels on some of our most iconic buildings, such as the MCG. [Read More...]

20 August 2015
by Ruo Wang

Should Australia lean to Japan before China?

Recently the growing bilateral military ties between Japan and Australia have captured much media attention.

On May 19, according to the Asahi Shimbun, Japan dived into the race to provide attack-submarine technology to Australia. Competing with France and Germany, Japan is seen as the front-runner for this bidding race.

If successful, this would be the first time Japan has exported "technological information related to an actual weapon" to a foreign country. [Read More...]

20 August 2015
by Cristy Clark

Vigilante lawfare: The Abbott gang versus Australian environmentalists

When people mention protecting the environment, PM Abbott rolls his eyes

The Abbott Government's move to deny conservationists the right to challenge mining projects on environmental grounds is the act of an authoritarian regime trying to deny justice to their opponents.

A key feature of Authoritarianism is that the government is above the law — not accountable to the people for its actions. In contrast, under a democratic system, the rule of law means the government is constrained by law and can be held accountable by the people.

This is particularly pertinent to the move by Attorney-General George Brandis to restrict green groups from challenging major developments under Federal law, a direct response from this month’s successful appeal against the approval of Indian energy giant Adani's controversial Carmichael coal mine on environmental grounds. [Read More...]

20 August 2015
by Anthony Albanese

Leaving Australians Stranded On Roads To Nowhere

A few years ago a prominent Australian wrote a book in which he argued that there was little use for public transport in Australia.

"Mostly", this well-known person wrote, "there just aren't enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car and cars need roads.

You don't need to be a transport expert to know that this view is outright nonsense - so absurd it is laughable.

But there's a problem.

The author was none other than Prime Minister Tony Abbott, writing in his 2009 political manifesto Battlelines. [Read More...]

20 August 2015
by Nicole Hasham

Nauru guard allegedly confesses to fake assault story

A secret recording captures a Nauru detention centre guard admitting to his colleague that he falsified a report of being assaulted by an asylum seeker.

All I want out of it is a conviction recorded. Because then he doesn't go to Australia.

An Australian-paid guard at Nauru is accused of falsely claiming an asylum seeker violently assaulted him then perjuring himself in court, before confessing to the lie in a secret recording made by a colleague. [Read More...]

20 August 2015
by Joanna Mather

'Kidnap' exemption to be introduced to Parliament

An exemption that would allow 1000 privately owned Australian companies to keep their tax affairs secret moved a step closer when Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg managed to swing Senate votes in favour.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon confirmed he will vote in favour of the exemption, even though he sits on the tax-avoidance inquiry that this week recommended maximum transparency for all public and private companies. [Read More...]

20 August 2015
by Geoff Winestock

Is some surgery making us sicker?

Doctors are performing thousands of costly procedures including knee surgery and back operations which are known to be quite useless but the current system is not doing enough to educate them.

A report by the Grattan Institute Questionable care: avoiding ineffective treatments says doctors performed about 800 arthroscopies a year on people with osteoarthritis, even though there is strong evidence that for this class of patient the treatment, which involves inserting a tube to remove damaged knee tissue, is no better than a placebo. [Read More...]

19 August 2015
by Ben Schneiders

Kathy Jackson exposed as a thief, liar and hypocrite

Kathy Jackson has been exposed. As a thief, a liar and a hypocrite of the highest order after the judgment against her of $1.4 million.

Just 18 months ago, Jackson received a rare apology from the House of Representatives as she was lauded by Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne as a "lion of the union movement". [Read More...]

19 August 2015
by Sophie Vorrath

Canning - Could the solar vote be Abbott’s undoing?

While Tony Abbott was in South Australia assuring the state’s Party faithful that his 2030 emissions target was both economically and environmentally responsible, an interesting thing was happening over in the nation’s west. In the Western Australian electorate of Canning – a marginal seat incorporating south-east metropolitan Perth and rural areas in the east and south – the Australian Solar Council launched its latest campaign, on the weekend, urging constituents to “vote solar” in the upcoming by-election.

The ASC’s plan is to capitalise on the fact that, according to council analysis, 50 per cent of Canning homes have either solar PV or solar hot water on their roofs. The broader plan, however, is to ignite a nation-wide debate on renewable energy, increasing the pressure on an increasingly unpopular, coal-loving Prime Minister. [Read More...]

19 August 2015
by Sophie Vorrath

The trillion-dollar hole in Abbott’s climate policy logic

A new report from global investment giant Citigroup has blown a great big hole in the Abbott government’s logic for aiming low on emissions reduction and renewable energy growth.

The Coalition’s justification for its low-ball climate targets has been, consistently, relentlessly, that it was the economically responsible policy path for the government to take. On the other hand, it argues, the costs of Labor’s “ideological obsession” – a proposed 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, and more ambition on emissions reduction – would be “simply catastrophic.”

Unfortunately for Tony Abbott and his environment minister Greg Hunt, the report published by Citi on Tuesday – Why a Low Carbon Future Doesn’t Have to Cost the Earth – suggests this line of logic is deeply flawed. [Read More...]

19 August 2015
by Kellie Tranter

Australia’s Abu Ghraib moment

Allegations that asylum seekers are being water-boarded while held in detention in Nauru, and their denial by Government, is reminiscent of the Abu Ghraib scandal that engulfed the Bush Administration in 2004. What has emerged reflects a likely pattern of abuse that can no longer be ignored by Australian citizens.

Even though it became clear that senior members of the former Bush Administration were well awareof detainee abuse by US soldiers before the explosive Abu Ghraib photographs were published, it didn't prevent official denials and counter allegations that Congress, civil libertarians and the media were exploiting the story to discredit the Bush Administration. Official condemnation focused solely on the work of a "few bad apples.” [Read More...]

18 August 2015
by Sarah Michael

Mark Latham forced to quit column after claims he used fake Twitter account to abuse women - including Australian of the Year Rosie Batty and a transgender army officer

Former Labor leader Mark Latham has resigned as a regular columnist at the Australian Financial Review newspaper amid allegations he uses a parody Twitter account to troll women.

The Fairfax newspaper released a statement on Monday afternoon confirming his resignation 'amid controversy over his views on feminism and other social issues'.

Mr Latham had been a regular columnist at the AFR for eight years but informed editor Michael Stutchbury he was resigning on Sunday. [Read More...]

18 August 2015
by Sarah Whyte

Medibank accused of using dud list to reduce hospital costs

Private insurance giant Medibank has been accused of using a dud list to reduce its hospital costs by Australia's health care watchdog.

Following a break down of negotiations between Calvary Health Care and the private insurance company, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care said that the list used by the insurer that includes 165 "highly preventable adverse events" was not appropriate. [Read More...]

18 August 2015
by Helen Irving

Abbott bill relies on a legal fiction to revoke citizenship for dual nationals

The bill to strip to strip dual nationals involved in terrorist activities of their Australian citizenship is seriously flawed and may be unconstitutional.

THE Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security is set to report this week on the Government’s controversial bill to strip dual nationals involved in terrorist activities of their Australian citizenship. [Read More...]

18 August 2015
by Paul Keating

Paul Keating: I didn't need the Liberals' help to change Australia

It has become a creeping part of the orthodoxy of late that the reformation of Australia's financial, product and labour markets between 1983 and 1996 was not executed by the Hawke and Keating governments but was some kind of project undertaken with the active co-operation of the then Liberal-National opposition.

Nothing could be further from the truth. [Read More...]

17 August 2015
by Evan Jones

To fix Australia's banking culture: Start sending bank CEOs to gaol: Part 1

'We will act fairly and reasonably towards you in a consistent and ethical manner. In doing so we will consider your conduct, our conduct and the contract between us.

~ Section 3.2 of the 2013 Code of Banking Practice

On 10 July, at a public relations affair on the Gold Coast, our beloved prime minister, Tony Abbott, fielded the question “Should Bill Shorten quit after the Royal Commission?”.
Our Tone’s response: [Read More...]

17 August 2015
by Phillip Coorey

Coalition slips further behind, Shorten's approval rating improves

The Coalition has slipped further behind Labor, Bill Shorten's personal ratings have improved and Malcolm Turnbull has increased his lead over Tony Abbott as preferred Liberal leader, according to a new poll taken at the end of one the government's toughest weeks.

The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll shows the government trailing Labor by 54 per cent to 46 per cent on a two-party preferred basis, a result, which if replicated on election day, would cost the Coalition up to 36 seats. [Read More...]

16 August 2015
by Philip Coorey

It's every man for himself on Tony Abbott's sinking governmental ship

When Fairfax Media's Latika Bourke broke the news mid-morning Thursday that trade union royal commissioner Dyson Heydon was booked to speak at a Liberal Party fundraiser, Attorney-General George Brandis was already scheduled to do an interview with Sky News.
Given Heydon had been tainted politically, the Royal Commission castrated, and the government ambushed by yet another crisis, Brandis could have been forgiven for cancelling the interview while he got his head around the latest catastrophe and prepared a considered response. But so determined was the Attorney-General to smack down cabinet colleague Scott Morrison's call for a referendum on same-sex marriage, he didn't give it a second thought. [Read More...]

16 August 2015
by Guy Rundle

The political caste playing student politics in Canberra

we have reached the point where all the key roles in both chambers are occupied by former student politicians. These are people who have had almost no job but politics

When Tony Smith was mock-dragged to the speaker’s chair this week, there was, across the country, a mix of emotions. The slow single-engine stall crash to earth of Bronwyn Bishop had been so delicious, so deserved and so protracted that the only people glad to see it end were the country’s cartoonists, who were by now utterly out of ideas. Bishop’s Imelda Marcos act had been of a piece with her management of the house of representatives, a chamber intended to be the free assembly of elected representatives. By continuing to attend party meetings, and treating the opposition as there on sufferance, she – with the eager assistance of the prime minister and Christopher Pyne – turned it into a star chamber. Her replacement by the more, well, liberal Tony Smith, who guaranteed to stay out of the party room and rule more fairly, was thus greeted with relief. [Read More...]

16 August 2015
by Martin McKenzie-Murray

Inside controversial rideshare firm Uber’s radical model

Rideshare company Uber’s aggressive fight against the taxi industry and the tax office has caught governments off guard.

In a government office in Perth there is a stack of documents – tender bids from private investigators seeking a contract with the West Australia Department of Transport. Officially such investigators are known as inquiry agents, and their brief is simple: catch Uber rides, retain transaction receipts and record observations afterwards. The successful bidders must also be available to provide evidence in court. [Read More...]

09 August 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Ergon trials solar + storage and energy trading for households

Queensland regional network operator Ergon Energy is to launch its first major solar and storage pilot program that could be replicated across its network and for many of its 100,000 solar customers, particularly in remote areas.

Ergon on Thursday announced a deal with US solar giant SunPower and emerging battery storage solutions Sunverge to conduct a solar and storage trial in 33 homes in three Queensland towns. [Read More...]

09 August 2015

True Blue Aussie

09 August 2015
by John Kelly

Unemployment rises with no plans for growth.

This week’s unemployment figures should have seen the MSM frothing at the mouth. With over 800,000 Australians looking for work and no sign of any nation building projects to address this appalling number, the MSM is either asleep at the computer, or complicit in trying to conceal what is a failure of leadership.

Tony Abbott has developed a new three word slogan for those who can’t think. It’s ‘Jobs and Growth’ but those of us who can think are wondering what he is doing to make it all happen. [Read More...]

09 August 2015
by Laura Tingle

Tony Abbott: out of probation but not out of jail

In the desperate days and hours when Tony Abbott and his closest cabal pleaded, begged and bought the crucial votes from his colleagues that he needed to save his skin in February, there was one underlying message: give me six months to turn things around.

People tend to remember the promises he made at the time to be more consultative, to stop the "Captain's Calls"; to get chief of staff Peta Credlin out of the centre of government as the defining features of that near-coup.

As Federal Parliament reconvenes on Monday, Coalition MPs have reason to reflect on the bigger messages of that time. [Read More...]

08 August 2015
by Mike Whitney

Trump’s Triumph: Billionaire Blowhard Exposes Fake Political System

Donald Trump

Editor: This site reproduces Australian content, but when an international event shows content that will or could replicate itself in Australia BWB will publish it.
There is no doubt that cash for favours is evident in Australia, although never spoken about. Trump has opened a Pandora's box.

August 07, 2015 Last night’s FOX News GOP Presidential Debate Extravaganza featured the most riveting two minute political exchange ever heard on national television. During a brief colloquy between Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and Fox moderator Brett Baier, the pugnacious casino magnate revealed the appalling truth about the American political system, that the big money guys like Trump own the whole crooked contraption lock, stock, and barrel, and that, the nation’s fake political leaders do whatever they’re told to do. Without question, it was most illuminating commentary to ever cross the airwaves. Here’s the entire exchange direct from the transcript: [Read More...]

08 August 2015

Worth a million likes: Pic of baby kangaroo hugging teddy bear melts hearts worldwide

A tiny orphaned kangaroo from Australia holding tight to a teddy bear has won hearts everywhere, "showing the value of a good hug." The man who shared the picture on Twitter said he was surprised it was of interest as far away as Russia and the US.

08 August 2015
by Mike Seccombe

Filthy secrets shroud Aust’s emissions reduction plans

The United States president’s speech on climate change on Tuesday was vintage Obama: at once rhetorically moving and substantive.
At the end he got emotional as he evoked NASA’s famous “blue marble” picture of Earth, as seen from space. [Read More...]

08 August 2015
by Rossleigh

When Abbott Commits, You Can Be Sure Of . . . Something!

From the Prime Minister’s website:

“As Prime Minister, Mr Abbott has promised to spend a week each year living and working in an indigenous community. In recent years, Mr Abbott has spent time working as a teacher’s aide in Coen and as a truancy officer in Aurukun as well as participating in Bush Owner Builder indigenous housing project near Hopevale on Cape York. Last year, Mr Abbott and a team of business leaders spent four days helping to refurbish the library of the local school at Aurukun.”

So, that must be coming up soon, I thought. [Read More...]

07 August 2015
by Jonathan J Ariel

MSM and MP's Rorts...

Originally Published as... Federal Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority Act (2016)

One reason Australia's alternative media is gaining readers, but as yet is not swimming in revenues, is because many people – both on the Left and the Right - agree that what passes for political reporting in the MSM has gone to the dogs.

Folk lament that the MSM generally no longer covers real issues, but merely treat politics like a variety show. And a bad one at that. [Read More...]

07 August 2015
by Peter Barnes

Book banning and modern education

Should education be secular?

Book banning is usually associated with Germany in the 1930s or, perhaps more pertinently, with the prohibition of the publication of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover in the United Kingdom, from its writing in 1928 until the famous court case of 1960. Yet on 6 May 2015 readers of the Sydney Morning Herald were informed, on page 3 no less, that 'Scripture books promoting "dangerous" messages about sex and male power are being used in NSW public schools, leading to calls for a crack down on special religious education.' A lobby group known as Fairness in Religions in Schools (FIRIS) raised concerns about Christian teaching on pre-marital sex, divorce, homosexuality, and male headship. The education spokesman for the Greens, John Kaye, pronounced: 'This is dangerous stuff.' [Read More...]

07 August 2015
by Nicole Hasham

In a rare disclosure, Abbott government admits turning back 633 asylum seekers

An asylum seeker boat off Christmas Island, containing mostly Iraqi, Iranian and Pakistani men.

Boats carrying more than 630 asylum seekers have been turned back under the Abbott government including a vessel that was returned to Vietnam last month, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says, in a rare release of usually secret details of "on-water operations".

The disclosure marks more than one year since an asylum seeker boat has arrived in Australia. It came as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop claimed neighbourly relations with Indonesia were back on track after a diplomatic freeze partly brought about by boat turn-backs. [Read More...]

07 August 2015
by Su-Lin Tan

The billionaire who bought Australia's most expensive home

Dr. Chau Chak Win

Chinese-Australian billionaire Dr Chau Chak Wing paid about $70 million for La Mer, James and Erica Packer's Vaucluse six-storey mansion, beating the $52 million paid in 2013 for another house in Sydney's eastern suburbs, the Point Piper mansion Altona, and setting an Australian record. [Read More...]

07 August 2015
by Phillip Coorey

Tony Abbott faces new whispering campaign

Tony Abbott

The Bronwyn Bishop expenses scandal has left Tony Abbott exposed to a fresh whispering campaign about his leadership just six months after he saw off a spill motion.

With Parliament to resume next week, Coalition MPs say while emotions are not near the level they reached in February, morale was once again "pretty poor". [Read More...]

06 August 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Networks propose compulsory fees for all – to stop grid defections

The main lobby group for electricity network operators in Australia is pushing for compulsory connection fees for all homes and businesses – even if they are not connected to the grid – and penalties for those who choose to disconnect, as part of a last-ditch effort to protect their declining revenue streams.

The Energy Networks Association says the proposals are deliberately calibrated to stop people from leaving the grid, and kicking off what is often described as the “death spiral”, as the networks seek to recover lost revenues from those consumers who remain. [Read More...]

06 August 2015
by Lisa Cox

Federal Court overturns approval of Adani Carmichael coal mine in Queensland

The court found Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not properly considered advice about the impact of the mine on two threatened species – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

Environmentalists have had a big win in their case against Australia's largest coal mine after the Federal Court overturned Adani's federal environmental approval to build the Carmichael coal mine.

The Indian mining giant's environmental authority has been set aside after the court found Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not properly considered advice about two threatened species – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake. [Read More...]

06 August 2015

A junior Defence staffer allegedly took home an intelligence report and posted it online

Defence HQ in Canberra, where the graduate worked.

An Australian spy agency says it has no way of knowing who has obtained a "highly sensitive" report meant for our top allies after it was allegedly leaked by a junior defence bureaucrat on an online forum.

In an embarrassing security breach, a 21-year-old Department of Defence graduate allegedly managed to download a secret Defence Intelligence Organisation assessment, burn it to a disc, take it home and post it to anonymous image-sharing forum 4chan while praising Julian Assange as his hero. [Read More...]

05 August 2015
by Paul Bibby

NSW Police faces more wrongful detention claims

N.S.W Police arrest a protester in Sydney

The NSW Police Force is facing a series of civil claims running into the millions from adults who say they have been wrongly detained as a result of errors in the police database.

With the ink barely dry on a $1.85m settlement between the police and young victims of wrongful detention, it has emerged that the force is currently being sued by several adults for the same reason. [Read More...]

05 August 2015
by Nicole Hasham

Investigation into wind farm leak evaporates into thin air, along with Senate committee

Senators Bob Day, Nick Xenophon, David Leyonhjelm and John Madigan.

The Prime Minister has slammed wind farms and said if the Howard government had its time again it would never have introduced the clean energy policy.

The Senate committee that examined the health effects of wind farms has dissolved without a trace – and so too has an investigation into who leaked its draft findings.

The Clean Energy Council said the leak showed the inquiry was "a biased political stitch-up by a small group of senators opposed to the cheapest forms of renewable energy". [Read More...]

05 August 2015
by John Kehoe

US sugar paying millions to shut out Australia from TPP

American sugar growers are donating millions of dollars to presidential candidates including Jeb Bush and influential Congress members, as part of an aggressive lobbying campaign to shut out Australian cane growers under a planned Pacific Rim trade accord.

Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb is frustrated about the disproportionate influence that sugar lobbyists appear to wield over the Obama administration and Congress members in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. [Read More...]

05 August 2015
by Phillip Coorey

How it all turned bad for the Abbott government

Abbott & Co. in Adelaide today

It is a political truism that once things start going wrong, everything goes wrong, more so the harder you try.

In the past 48 hours the Abbott government, eager to emerge from the mire of Bronwyn Bishop's travel largesse, a has fallen foul of the ACTU, the Business Council of Australia, Indigenous elders and the Victorian government. [Read More...]

05 August 2015
by Gordon Smith

New Electric Highway in Australia Boosts Electric Vehicle Industry

e-station electric vehicle charging network in Australia e-station electric vehicle charging network in Australia

This Electric Highway In Australia is Most Likely the First of Many.

Two companies and the local government councils in South West Australia are collaborating to turn some of the area’s roads into efficient electric highways. They entered into an energy deal which calls for the installation of electric car charging stations into the highway connecting Perth and Augusta. The Royal Automotive Club (RAC), the organization that came up with the idea, is going to fund the acquisition as well as installation of the charging stations. [Read More...]

04 August 2015
by Richard Britain

Religion needs to be actively opposed

A book review - Sacred to Secular: why a corrupted Christianity demands a Secular solution

One can often sense a feeling of apathy among the non-religious -- from mere skeptics to hard-line atheists. It's a state of lethargy that can possess those who assume Australia will evolve naturally to a 'secular reality' simply by osmosis -- that concerted action is unnecessary as religious dominance will eventually wither without direct intervention.

That's why we need new books to be written that remind us, and in clear detail, why it's essential to reinvigorate the debate on what needs to be done, and how. And this is the key ingredient -- how? [Read More...]

04 August 2015
by John Kerin

Adelaide to host navy's $20 billion frigate construction project

Prime Minister Tony Abbott moved to stem flagging voter support in economically challenged South Australia by confirming a $20 billion frigate construction project will be headquartered in Adelaide.

Mr Abbott is in Adelaide for three days of Cabinet talks and met South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill to discuss ways to boost the state's economy, which will be hit by the closure of car manufacturing. [Read More...]

04 August 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Tony Abbott’s war on clean energy – and business people who speak out

The most recent head of the National Australia Bank, one of the country’s most powerful financial institutions, has made extraordinary revelations about the back-lash from government to business that dared speak out in support of sensible climate change and renewable energy policies. [Read More...]

04 August 2015
by Robert Milliken

Unlocking Indigenous incarceration

Governments have ignored a new report exposing appalling rates of young Indigenous people in detention. But a new response is attracting growing support.

Twenty-four years after the final report of the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, an Amnesty International report has revealed that the incarceration rate has doubled among young Indigenous people.

Bourke, the town that inspired several of Henry Lawson’s Darling River stories, has always been on the frontier. Now it’s become an unlikely cauldron for an experiment that could reverse Australia’s shocking record of locking up young Indigenous people. [Read More...]

04 August 2015
by John Quiggin

How the Senate helped derail the TPP talks

Negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement have run aground on Washington’s attempt to restrict rather than free up medicines.

Winston Churchill’s famous description of Russia as a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” could equally well be applied to the Australian Senate. It’s unlikely that one in a hundred Australian voters could explain how the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, represented (quite ably, so far) by Ricky Muir, came to hold a seat in our upper house, or describe the arcane rules associated with a double dissolution. The one thing anyone with any interest in politics knows is that the Senate, because of its power to block legislation, has been the bane of prime ministers of both political parties for generations. [Read More...]

03 August 2015
by John Passant

The Bishopric has fallen: now for the wholly corrupt See of parliament

Brownyn Bishop’s escalating expenses row, from helicopters to limosines to god knows what else, the contempt the vast majority of Australian people feel for her, the protection Prime Minister Tony Abbott gave her and the consequent damage this has done to his government and party, all combined to see her resign as speaker of the House of Representatives and Abbott announce a root and branch review of parliamentary entitlements.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie was blunt. He called Bishop’s actions fraud. He knows full well she will not sue him for defamation. It would expose her expenses claims to independent judicial scrutiny and show the Australian people the contempt she has for them. [Read More...]

03 August 2015
by Caroline James

Is this Australia's Trip Advisor of health?

It's a business model that's threatening the established private health providers.

Neill Cullen: bringing affordable health to the masses.

Niel Cullen and business partners – Hew Gibbs, a physiotherapist, and Chris Bates, a marketing agency director – have self-funded development of WellOne brand, web site and app and launched it within a year.

It launched in July with 100 dental practitioners and 100 chiropractors, optical specialists and physiotherapists on board.

The trio hopes leveraging peer networks via email, phone, trade shows, word-of-mouth referrals and social media will rapidly – and simultaneously – spread the word to user and practitioner markets.

They hope to have national coverage within months. [Read More...]

03 August 2015
by Max Mason

Huffington Post Australia to launch on August 19

The Huffington Post is set to launch in Australia on August 19 led by former News Corp editor and journalist Tory Maguire as its launch editor-in-chief.

HuffPost Australia, a joint venture between The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media, publisher of The Australian Financial Review, will have 30 staff based in offices in Sydney's Circular Quay with all staff expected to produce and write stories. [Read More...]

03 August 2015
by John Pilger

Assange: the untold story of an epic struggle for justice

An update of the Julian Assange affair

The siege of Knightsbridge is both an emblem of gross injustice and a gruelling farce. For three years, a police cordon around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. It has cost £12 million. The quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His "crime" is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war. [Read More...]

03 August 2015
by Laura Tingle

It wasn't Bronny. It was the system. Seriously, Prime Minister?

The outrage spawned by revelations that the now former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has, for years, liked to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous – on us – was made more potent than the usual outrage at politicians abusing their taxpayer entitlements for two reasons.

The first was the obviously egregious hypocrisy of Bishop's lifestyle choices at a time when the government had hit most taxpayers with big cuts in spending in its first budget.

The second was Bishop's brazen refusal to backdown and the arrogance of both her – and the Prime Minister – in thinking that they could somehow just ride the storm out. [Read More...]

02 August 2015
by Latika Bourke

Bronwyn Bishop resigns as Speaker

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announces Bronwyn Bishop will step down as Speaker of the House of Representatives following the parliamentary entitlements scandal.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the resignation of his Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, after weeks of furore surrounding her grandiose use of taxpayer-funded travel perks but refused to criticise his long-time "friend and colleague" suggesting that she was the victim of the system. [Read More...]

02 August 2015
by Phillip Coorey

Why Bronwyn Bishop is a disaster of Tony Abbott's own making

The nation Appointing a party warrior as Speaker was a stunt from student politics to wind up the Left, just like knighthoods. And look how well that went.

There are few politicians more straight up than Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane but that didn't stop his local paper giving him both barrels last week.

"How MP Spent $11,000 on One Flight" thundered the front page of Toowoomba's The Chronicle. It was accompanied by a picture of the minister with the caption "Big Spender" and another page inside detailing every cent – travel, administrative and otherwise – spent in the course of his duties. [Read More...]

02 August 2015
by Shannon Stapleton

‘Incredibly intrusive’: Windows 10 spies on you by default

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system is immensely popular, with 14 million downloads in just two days. The price of the free upgrade may just be your privacy, though, as changing Windows 10’s intrusive default settings is difficult.

Technology journalists and bloggers are singing Windows 10’s praises, often using the words such as “amazing,”“glorious” and “fantastic.” The operating system has been described as faster, smoother and more user-friendly than any previous version of Windows. According to Wired magazine, more than 14 million people have downloaded their upgrade since the system was released on Wednesday. [Read More...]

01 August 2015
by Peter Martin

Trans-Pacific Partnership deal in doubt

The US has withdrawn an offer it had made to Australia in 2014 on dairy access.

The giant Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks are in danger of breaking up without agreement after the United States gave little ground on market access, withdrawing an offer it had previously made to Australia on dairy products.

Talks went late into the night on Friday and resumed early on Saturday as the closing press conference was postponed from 9.30 am Australian eastern time until midday with talk that it might be postponed again. [Read More...]

01 August 2015
by Mike Seccombe

Fresh calls for inquiry into Ayers Rock Resort purchase

Calls for a thorough inquiry into the ill-fated purchase of the Ayers Rock Resort by the Indigenous Land Corporation are being blocked at every turn by the government.

Appearances by bureaucrats before parliamentary committees are normally mealy-mouthed affairs. Answers are given and advice is tendered in the most dispassionate terms, no matter how politically hot the subject area.

There are exceptions, though, and few as dramatic as that of Friday, November 22, 2013, when the new CEO of the Indigenous Land Corporation, Michael Dillon, fronted the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee. [Read More...]

01 August 2015
by Philip Dorling

US bugs Japan on trade and climate

Barack Obama, Tony Abbott and Shinzō Abe ahead of a trilateral meeting in 2014.

America is spying on the Japanese PM and major corporations ahead of trade talks, and sharing the intelligence with Australia.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and the top levels of the Japanese government are being spied on by America, and the information shared with allies including Australia, according to secret intelligence documents published by WikiLeaks. [Read More...]