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July 2015

Read in 143 Countries

30 July 2015
by Mark Gillespie

Shorten and the AWU: The best friends Abbott and the bosses ever had

Shorten and the AWU’s model of unionism short-changed workers through doing favours for the bosses.

Listening to Tony Abbott criticise Bill Shorten for union deals that “ripped off the workers” almost made me choke on my corn flakes. Tony Abbott has dedicated his life to attacking workers and is totally indifferent to the conditions people work under, once saying, “bad bosses…do more good than harm”. [Read More...]

29 July 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Back of the envelope calculations in Coalition campaign against renewables, climate action

ex Senator Ron Boswell

The Abbott government has resorted to simply making up numbers in its desperate attempts to maintain a scare campaign against proposals to lift Australia’s renewable energy target and take bolder action on climate change.

On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed Labor’s 50 per cent renewable energy target would cost $60 billion – a number an advisor later admitted had been found in The Australian, which in turn had quoted consultants ACIL Allen, who in turn later admitted it was a “back of the envelope” calculation. [Read More...]

29 July 2015

OK Pollies – time’s up. It’s the end of YOUR age of entitlement.

At the time of being elected, the government proclaimed that there was a debt and deficit emergency. They needed to clean up Labor’s mess, they said. Once elected, Joe Hockey declared: “The age of entitlement is over“. There must be cuts, cuts and more cuts. To pensioners, to health, to education, the ABC, SBS and so on…

There’s been plenty written about how there was no debt and deficit emergency, no mess to clean up back in 2013, and how since coming into office, rather than improving Australia’s financial situation, Abbott and Hockey have turned our economy into a basket case, and that we now have the world’s worst debt trajectory. So I’m not going to focus there. [Read More...]

29 July 2015
by Christine Long

The woman who took on Coke and won

Annabel Young trademarked Honest Tea back in 2005. It took years of fighting to protect her brand.

Annabel Young's tales of trademark trials and tribulations are enough to make you want a cup of tea and a lie down.

Young had already done the planning and design work for a tea product called Vitalitiea when she decided to trademark it. It was only then she discovered a European company had beaten them to it by a single day.

So when she created Honest Tea in 2005, she trademarked it straight away.

"We'd had it for a couple of years when we got hit with a challenge from a US-based company who thought that they had global rights because they were using that name in America," she says. [Read More...]

29 July 2015

Australia faces $50m legal bill in cigarette plain packaging fight with Philip Morris

Australia's legal bill for defending its cigarette plain packaging legislation is set to hit $50 million as it battles to contain a case brought by tobacco giant Philip Morris before a tribunal in Singapore.

And that is just for the first stage. If in September the three-person extraterritorial tribunal decides Australia has a case to answer, the hearing will move on to substantive matters and the bills will become far bigger. [Read More...]

28 July 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Abbott Coalition kills hopes of ambitious climate change targets

The Abbott Coalition government has further entrenched its position against any ambitious climate change targets, describing the recommended trajectory by the Climate Change Authority as “staggering”, and continuing its three-word slogan attack against Labor’s policies, and the prospect of more wind farms.

Abbott has already delayed the release of Australia’s post 2020 targets until August, potentially slowing down what others have described as good progress in the lead up to the key climate change talks in Paris later this year. [Read More...]

27 July 2015
by Malcolm King

Mass unemployment looms over Adelaide

While other states built modern, diversified and robust economies, South Australia debated, formed committees and engaged in endless rounds of self-reflection.

SA's net debt as a percentage of the state economy is 7.3 per cent - the highest in Australia with 8700 job losses in May and 6000 jobs in June.That's four times the number of jobs created by the state government since 2011.

Although why people believe the state government should create jobs is part of the problem. Here's the timeline from the ABC on the major job losses. [Read More...]

27 July 2015
by Kaye Lee

The Nats are a waste of space

In 2013, with 4.3 per cent of the primary vote, the Nationals won 9 seats in the House of Representatives. The Greens, with 8.6 per cent of the primary vote, won one.

But even with this disproportionate representation, the National Party seem unwilling or unable to act in the best interests of their constituents.

We have seen mining approvals that endanger prime farm land and water resources. We have seen the relationship with Indonesia deteriorate so far that they have slashed their cattle imports. We have seen free trade agreements which, on closer inspection, deliver far less than promised, with whole industries ignored, long phase out periods for tariffs, and caps on tariff free exports based on 2013 levels. [Read More...]

27 July 2015
by Ross Jones

Coming soon (for your enjoyment): The final implosion of Menzies' creation

As we approach the next election and the end days of Menzies' now-unrecognisable Liberal Party, Ross Jones suggests we sit back, grab the popcorn and enjoy the final implosion.

WE SHOULD enjoy the coming year. It will be a time when we watch, in exquisite slow-motion, the final implosion of Menzies’ creation — the Liberal Party of Australia. Apart from the odd rumps, which will keep coming like the Terminator’s skeletal hand, they are gone.

It has long been obvious the self-serving Party, which bought us such luminaries as Harold Holt, Billy McMahon and the quintessential bullied-child-come-war-monger, John Howard, has pined for the authoritarian might of its founder. And in Abbott they thought they had found their man. But he is not their man. He is someone else’s man. [Read More...]

27 July 2015
by Rick Wilking

Australia may legalize medical marijuana in August – report

“I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates.” - Tony Abbott.

A Senate committee representing all Australia’s major parties is preparing a Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill to legalize medical marijuana, despite warnings of regulatory complications with both Australian and international law, a report says.

The committee includes the Coalition (the Liberal Party, the National Party, the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party, and Queensland Liberal branch the Liberal National Party), the Labor Party and crossbench senators. They will “strongly recommend” parliament pass a cross-party bill setting up a medical marijuana regulator, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, citing Fairfax Media sources close to the legislation debate. [Read More...]

26 July 2015
by Martin McKenzie-Murray

Inside the strange dynamic of Reclaim Australia's rallies

The Reclaim Australia protests and counter-protests reveal the unedifying anger on the outer fringes of politics.

For the few men who comprise the anti-immigration Australia First Party and the neo-Nazi Squadron 88, the numerals referring to “HH” or “Heil Hitler”, it was an opportunity to augment the United Patriots Front’s rally in Melbourne, itself a supplement to the Reclaim Australia rally organised for the foot of the Victorian parliament. A road trip was planned, a bus rented. The journey would be a merry drive from Sydney to Melbourne, a city they deemed a leftist “stronghold”. They packed a gun but Sydney police – aware of the groups – searched them before they departed and it was confiscated. [Read More...]

26 July 2015
by David Leser

Bronwyn Bishop’s lifelong gambits

As a scandal over expenses threatens to dethrone the speaker of the house, a litany of prior missteps highlights self-belief run amok.

On May 31, 1994, Bronwyn Bishop delivered her maiden speech in the house of representatives.

The speech was remarkable for a few reasons, both then and now. First, because after two decades of political ambition – beginning with her unsuccessful tilt in 1974 for the seat of retiring New South Wales premier Robert Askin – Bishop was finally in the chamber where national governments were formed. [Read More...]

25 July 2015

Still being lied to...

So it seems that Bill Shorten will be taking a proposal for a 50% renewable target by 2030 to Labor’s national conference in Melbourne this weekend. Accordingly, climate change is shaping up to be a major battleground for the next election – probably much to Abbott’s chagrin. On this argument, the Coalition starts from behind. Tony Abbott would prefer the discussion to be neutralised and as a result the government is stepping up the rhetoric to attack Labor’s history and position on the climate change front. As a result, the laughably-named Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, has been working the airwaves furiously to poison the national consciousness. [Read More...]

25 July 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Shorten slams Coalition ‘flat earthers’ as incumbents bite back

Labor leader Bill Shorten appears to have rediscovered his and the party’s climate change mojo – promising an emissions trading scheme, a 50 per cent renewable energy target, and slamming Tony Abbott’s society of “flat Earthers”.

Shorten, in his speech to the Labor national conference in Melbourne, described the attacks on wind energy by Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey as “grotesque”. [Read More...]

25 July 2015
by Geoff Whitestock

Abbott Scraps Efficient Medical Model

Health experts want Prime Minister Tony Abbott to rethink a decision to scrap a system of standard prices for medical procedures that is showing signs of slowing growth in hospital expenses.

The issue of how to curb hospital costs flared this week at the Council of Australian Governments where states demanded an extra revenue source to compensate for the Federal spending cuts. [Read More...]

24 July 2015
by Emma Sutcliffe

Richard Di Natale – the party leader living off the grid

Greens leader Richard Di Natale chose to go off-grid 10 years ago, largely because of the huge costs of connecting his then weekender and now family home to the grid. “It’s a great feeling to be able to convert the sun into useable energy.”

It’s hard to imagine Bill Shorten or Tony Abbott pulling up on a quad bike to greet visiting journos, but it’s how our morning with Green Party leader Richard Di Natale begins and ends. It’s also hard to imagine any other political party leader in Australia choosing to live off-grid. [Read More...]

24 July 2015
by Giles Parkinson

Labor picks a winner with 50% renewable energy target

It seems that the Labor Party has finally had enough of joining with the Coalition in the policies of the lowest common denominator, at least in respect to renewable energy. Labor leader Bill Shorten has finally found a major issue to make a point of difference with Tony Abbott.

The announcement by Shorten that he would ask Labor to adopt a 50 per cent renewable energy target – following a major push among grass-root branches – is a real breakthrough for the political debate in Australia, possibly as significant as the bipartisan deal to pursue a 20/20 renewable energy target way back in 2007. [Read More...]

24 July 2015
by John Passant

Of fascists and guns

One of the fascists on the bus from Sydney to the Melbourne Reclaim Australia rally had a gun.

Remember when Man Haron Monis took over the Lindt cafe in Sydney and held people hostage in December? He too had a gun. The difference was he was identifiably different, a Muslim. He got some of his hostages to wave an ISIS flag at one stage. [Read More...]

24 July 2015
by Eva Cripps

“What about my rights?”

It would be easy to assume that the Government of a country founded on democratic principles and the rule of law would have a semblance of respect for basic rights. That assumption would be incorrect. Rights are simple things. But often conflicting. One person’s right to hold a booze-fuelled orgy in their garden might well offend the neighbour’s right to quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their own property. As a result, laws have been introduced over the centuries to achieve a balance between personal freedoms and a generally cohesive and functioning society.

What are rights? [Read More...]

24 July 2015
by Jane Lee

Labor taking George Brandis to court over higher divorce fees

Attorney-General George Brandis has accused Labor of "shameless hypocrisy".

Labor is taking Attorney-General George Brandis, QC, to court, to wind back higher fees for people divorcing their partners and going through the Family Courts.

Senator Brandis recently sneaked through a regulation raising divorce application fees from $845 to $1200 in the Federal Circuit Court and from $1195 to $1200 in the Family Court, despite the Senate disallowing a slightly smaller hike last month. [Read More...]

23 July 2015
by Mick Armstrong

The secret history of fascism in Australia

New Guard leader Eric Campbell at a meeting in Sydney 1932

There is a myth that Australia, with its supposed democratic, egalitarian traditions, has been immune from mass fascist movements. This is far from true.

Fascism as a mass phenomenon is a product of a capitalist system that is in deep social and political crisis. That was the case with the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s. [Read More...]

23 July 2015
by Eva Cripps

Aliens, Allegiance to Australia and 1984.

What do aliens, allegiance to Australia and 1984 have in common? Surprisingly, not George Orwell’s spookily accurate prediction of life under the Abbott Government in 2015; albeit 30 years later than anticipated. The plot of Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-four, is scarily similar to the current political regime; an authoritarian government controlled by the privileged and elite, a climate of perpetual war, mass surveillance, public manipulation through media control, and the persecution of dissenters. While there are no aliens in Orwell’s fictional masterpiece, aliens are certainly relevant to Abbott’s utopian concept of Team Australia in an increasingly dystopian nation. And crucial to the notion of allegiance to Australia. [Read More...]

23 July 2015
by Patrick Keane

Tony Abbott and his mates' new path of climate change obstruction

When it comes to climate change, Tony Abbott is representing vested interests, not voters (Image via @EnviroVic)

Tony Abbott and opponents of action on climate change have determined a new path of obstructionn, instead of doubting the science they will thwart the solution.

2015 is a momentous year in the story of climate change; never has the world been hotter and never has the Government of Australia done more to thwart action on Climate Change.

The Abbott Government has engaged in an unprecedented attack on renewable energy. Tony Abbott described wind turbines as “visually awful” and coal as “good for humanity”. His government's attacks have occurred at the same time as there is another Senate Inquiry into wind energy — the tenth so far. [Read More...]

22 July 2015
by Phillip Coorey

Bye-election test for Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten

The sudden death of federal Liberal MP Don Randall has set the scene for a federal byelection later and the first real test for Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott.
The potential consequences for each leader are significant. [Read More...]

22 July 2015
by Peter Brent

The Name Game

Mark Butler MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water (2013–present)

With the next election on the horizon, the pressure is on to give Labor’s carbon policy a name that sticks.

The Labor Party is fighting a battle over terminology. At stake are the decisions political journalists, editors, sub-editors and nightly news scriptwriters will make when they’re referring to the party’s climate change policy. As election day approaches, will it be called an “emissions trading scheme” or a “carbon tax”? [Read More...]

22 July 2015

Yesterday's Newspoll

For those of you interested in polls, here are the results of yesterday's polls released by Newspoll.

[Read More...]

21 July 2015
by John Passant

No end to profiteering and rorts at the top end of town

Last year, Treasurer Joe Hockey famously declared that Australia needed to be a nation of “lifters, not leaners”.

The Coalition wants us to believe workers and the poor have it easy—and that the funds for their coveted budget surplus should be taken from our pockets. Labor leaders, for their part, largely agree. [Read More...]

21 July 2015

Sydney mathematics whiz Seyoon Ragavan scoops gold at International Olympiad

He had prepared for almost a year. Done hundreds of practice tests. And won two bronze medals in his past two International Mathematics Olympiads.

But despite being one of the best young mathematicians in Australia, 16-year-old Knox Grammar student Seyoon Ragavan was still racked with nerves as he stepped into the exam room. [Read More...]

21 July 2015
by Paul Bongiorno

Barnaby Joyce’s undermining over coal

Barnaby Joyce is increasingly looking like the mad uncle the family, or at least the Liberal cousins, would like to see locked in the attic. The Nationals deputy leader has so irritated his Coalition colleagues with his outspoken opposition to a giant open-cut coalmine in his electorate that they have begun leaking against him. The undermining, if you’ll pardon the pun, is symptomatic of tensions over policy and direction affecting the Abbott government.

As a piece of political drama it is looking more and more like the theatre of the absurd. No sooner had Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved the giant Shenhua Watermark project than his cabinet colleague, Agriculture Minister Joyce, attacked it on his official Facebook page. [Read More...]

21 July 2015 by Martin McKenzie-Murray

Abbott's campaign to kill renewable energy sector

Unable to disband a financing body it despises, the Abbott government has set about rigging renewable energy investment to fail.

John Grimes isn’t happy with the prime minister, and he’s not shy about saying so. The former Royal Australian Air Force officer and CEO of the Australian Solar Council has watched what he considers the government’s vindictive “crusade” against renewable energy – and his pique increased this week after the treasurer and finance minister directed the statutory body, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), to cease investment in wind farms and domestic-scale solar projects. Environment Minister Greg Hunt argued that the directive merely nudged the CEFC back to its original mandate – as an investor of immature technologies with only speculative commercial viability. [Read More...]

20 July 2015
by Jennifer Wilson

A Speaker “on probation” cannot remain a Speaker

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to put his handpicked Speaker Bronwyn Bishop “on probation” demonstrates, as perhaps little else can, his contemptuous disregard for our Parliament and its processes.

As Speaker, it is Bishop’s job to discipline all MPs, thus setting the tone for parliamentary behaviour, and using the authority of her position to ensure that behaviour is within the guidelines and traditions of the Westminster system. [Read More...]

15 July 2015
by Shane dowling

Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party Take Bribes For Favours Once Too Often.

Everywhere you look lately there is evidence of the Liberal Party taking bribes for access to their politicians. The most recent allegation by the ABC and Fairfax Media is that the Liberal Party have been taking bribes off the Mafia. Add that to the recent NSW ICAC Liberal Party bribery scandal and the “Treasure for Sale” defamation case “partial win” and things aren’t looking good for the Liberals. [Read More...]

15 July 2015
by Rossleigh

A Government Is Not A Business, Repeat A Government Is NOT A Business

Both the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court have operated at a loss for a number of years.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 15th July, 2015

If you run a public listed company, you have an obligation to try and maximise the return to shareholders. Of course, there are legal and moral qualifications for this, but basically, companies listed on the stock exchange exist to make a profit.

Governments exist to prevent anarchy. [Read More...]

14 July 2015
by Bob Ellis

The Libs...

It was thought Barnaby’s description of Indonesia as a bunch of poofter-bashers who might not buy our cattle if we tried gay marriage on may have had something to do with the loss of our market there, and the pardoning of two hundred thousand of of his mooing, puzzled fellow creatures now on Death Row eating expensively. It confirmed what Tony Windsor had said of him on election night 2010, ‘Barnaby Joyce is a fool’, and that Tony would now run against him, and take him out. [Read More...]

13 July 2015
by Ben Groundwater

Australia nanny state: Australia, the Land of The Idiot

Here's the thing I've come to realise: Australia has too many idiots. We don't have a lot of idiots; we don't even have a middling number of idiots. But we still have enough idiots to reach a tipping point where things are being ruined for the rest of us.

This realisation came to me recently in Europe. Now, I don't want to be one of those people who goes to Europe for the summer and comes home saying everything is better over there – but I've just been to Europe for the summer and everything's better over there. [Read More...]

13 July 2015
by Noel Towell

First pay-day fail for Abbott's "smaller govt"

Thursday's Euro-style pension panic for thousands of Australia's military and public service retirees was a rocky start to the new era of "smaller government" in the federal superannuation authority.

The newly merged Commonwealth Superannuation Authority, born of the "red tape" agenda, failed this week in a first attempt to perform a basic function – paying the pensions of the hundreds of thousands of retirees who rely on public service or military superannuation.

Sources close to the agency say the merger has been beset by resignations and cultural clashes between the CSC and the outfit it took over, the old ComSuper which ceased to exist on July 1. [Read More...]

13 July 2015
by Heath Aston

Australian Government pulls the plug on household solar

The Abbott government has opened up another front in its war on renewable energy by pulling the plug on investments in the most common form of alternative energy, rooftop and small-scale solar.

As a storm raged over the government's directive to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to no longer back wind energy projects, it emerged that it has also put a stop to solar investments other than the largest industrial-scale projects. [Read More...]

13 July 2015
by Alan Austin

Australian economy tanking at the halfway mark

Australia economy tumbles down the economic tables

Simply comparing numbers now with numbers at the 2013 election shows Australia’s economy has deteriorated. But when we examine rankings across the world – which is now recovering steadily – the position is truly alarming.

We can now track most variables over the first 18 months since September 2013 for the entire Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). That is the group of 34 western democracies with comparable mixed free enterprise economies.

So how is Australia travelling? Badly. How can we tell? Ten variables can readily be compared across nations. On each of these prime minister Tony Abbott and treasurer Joe Hockey promised improvement when in Opposition. On each there has been demonstrable decay – if not in the raw figures then certainly in relative performance. [Read More...]

12 July 2015
by Paul Bondiorno

Bill Shorten and the $80 million unions royal commission

The venue for the impromptu rally was the Covent Garden Hotel in Sydney’s Haymarket. Slurring with passion, Bill Shorten’s performance would have done any diva proud. He was dragged into the pub when Young Labor delegates spied him walking past last Sunday, after a convivial dinner in a nearby restaurant. They demanded a speech to cries of “Bill, Bill, Bill”. He obliged with a verve rarely seen in his orchestrated performances. [Read More...]

12 July 2015
by Mike Seccombe

The government's $14.2 billion budget fantasy to sell an election

While the government is looking for any distraction it can find from the economy, it is banking on unlegislated budget cuts hidden beyond the next election.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott calls it a “very clear commitment”. Richard Denniss, chief economist of progressive think tank The Australia Institute, calls it an “outrageous lie”.

Whatever you call it, it represents a big loss for people who can ill afford it.

We’re talking about Abbott’s oft-repeated recent assertion that there would be “no adverse changes in superannuation under this government in this parliament”. [Read More...]

11 July 2015
by Martin McKenzie-Murray

Spyware company's shadowy deals exposed

Millionaire hackers' spyware clients include South Sudan, Russia, Saudi Arabia – and Australia.

David Vincenzetti had changed. From anarchic cyberpunk of the early ’90s – a young man enchanted by the nascent web and its clandestine harbours – to the conservative CEO of Hacking Team and one of the most reviled figures of the internet. That young punk would also become a millionaire, the result of selling surveillance software to the world’s law enforcement and spy agencies – including the Australian Federal Police. [Read More...]

11 July 2015
by Max Opray

Legalising sex work in SA

A woman's murder has renewed debate in South Australia over the lack of protections for sex workers and decriminalisation of the industry.

The court heard that on New Year’s Day, Ting Fang had her throat slashed open with the blade of a windscreen wiper. In a year that has since seen women violently killed in Australia at a rate of almost two a week, the 25-year-old sex worker was the first victim of 2015. Unlike the other 48 names tallied up so far in the grim ledger of Destroy the Joint’s “Counting Dead Women” project, Fang’s fate has not just fuelled a debate about gendered violence but also on how best to regulate the profession so famously regarded as the world’s oldest. [Read More...]

11 July 2015
by Philip Dorling

French spying agency tapping Australia’s communications

France’s intelligence agency is listening in on Australia’s communication networks, as submarine contracts and regional relations vital to both nations are negotiated.

Thirty years ago this week, French secret agents destroyed the Rainbow Warrior. The Greenpeace flagship had been involved in high-profile protests over French nuclear testing in the South Pacific and agents from the French General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) were sent to prevent it leaving New Zealand for another protest campaign at Mururoa Atoll. Just before midnight on the evening of July 10, 1985, two explosions ripped through the hull of the Rainbow Warrior, killing a Portuguese crew member, Fernando Pereira, and sinking the vessel alongside Marsden Wharf in Auckland. [Read More...]

11 July 2015

Jaqui Lambie Gives Joyce a Serve Over Shenhua Coal Mine

In this short video, Jaqui Lambie shows she has balls by giving Barnaby Joyce a serve over the Shenhua coal mine. [Read More...]

10 July 2015
by Dr. Geoff Davies

Fourth Estate: The third political force

The Australian commercial media are the unacknowledged third force in Australian politics. Arguably they are more powerful than any of the political parties.

Consider the pre-occupations that dominate our politics at the moment.

Islamic terrorists are supposed to be a clear and present danger. Boat people are supposed to be a lurking threat, ever-likely to sweep in and over-run the country, taking our jobs, imposing an alien culture and bringing more terrorists. Roughly half the population does not believe global warming is an immediate or serious threat. (And global warming is almost universally referred to by the deliberately propagated euphemism “climate change”.)

On each of these issues, the dominant public perception is so far from evidence-based reality as to constitute a myth. [Read More...]

10 July 2015
bt Dr. Geoff Davies

Who will rid us of this turbulent priest?

To reclaim the lawful, liberal, decent society we once were, we must soon rid ourselves of the turbulent priest, along with those like him, those who support him, and those who appease his kind.

"Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?"

— Henry II of England

IS THERE no-one with eyes that see how the best of Australia is being destroyed? Is there no-one with the will to name it, and the courage to call on our better angels?

The rule of law, the freedom to know and debate, privacy, freedom from arbitrary detention and punishment, education for everyone, hospitals for everyone, help for the disadvantaged, family time, community time, social cohesion, the economy, infrastructure and industries to sustain our children, our priceless natural heritage, sovereignty over our own affairs, all are being attacked, undermined or neglected while we writhe in a lather of fear and distraction, jumping at shadows while hiding our faces from the real challenges staring down on us. [Read More...]

10 July 2015
by Kate Aubusson

Federal politicians spend $500,000 on Australian flags

Tony Abbott appears with Peter Dutton and George Brandis in front of 10 flags at a press conference

Federal politicians spent over half a million dollars on Australian flags in the second half of 2014, according to parliamentary records.

If the quantity of flags were a reliable indicator of patriotism, Liberal MP John Alexander and his Bennelong electorate would be awash with national pride, topping the flag spending tally on $17,949, according to the Australian Financial Review. [Read More...]

10 July 2015
by Nicole Hasham

Barnaby Joyce either 'incompetent or lacks influence in cabinet' over coal mine approval

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce withdrew from an appearance with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is under pressure to consider resigning from the frontbench after he castigated the government for approving a massive coal mine in his electorate.

The furore comes as the federal National party pressures NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant over the potential impact of the mine, which must pass a final Baird government hurdle before proceeding. [Read More...]

08 July 2015
by Nicole Hasham

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce slams Abbott government over Shenhua coal mine approval

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says "the world has gone mad" after his own government approved the highly contentious Shenhua Watermark coal mine in his NSW electorate, despite his vehement protests. [Read More...]

05 July 2015
by Rossleigh

China Sends Coal (back) to Newcastle

No, this time it isn’t satire and yes, I do acknowledge that these days it’s very hard to tell!
When I wrote about Noam Chomsky’s idea that the best place to get the truth in the newspaper was on the business pages, a few people argued that those capitalist lackey running dogs had the sort of views that were responsible for all that ails the world. However, I wasn’t suggesting that it was their viewpoints that were worth reading. It was what they revealed about what was actually going on. [Read More...]

05 July 2015
by Kaye Lee

Value for money?

When it was revealed that, on top of his $332,000 salary package and $40,000 accommodation allowance, Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson had claimed $77,763 for expenses in his first year, his response was “You’d rather I sit in my office all day?” [Read More...]

04 July 2015
by Phillip Dorling

Leaked negotiations from a key trade deal show radical plans to deregulate services in Australia, including banking and childcare.

WikiLeaks: Secret trade deal exposed

Jan Adams isn’t a household name. Even in federal parliament and among Canberra’s political insiders she’s barely known. Few press gallery journalists have heard of her. Fewer still know she’s the deputy secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) with responsibility for the Abbott government’s ambitious free trade negotiation strategy. [Read More...]

04 July 2015
by Mike Seccombe

How the Faceless men work

Barton Deakin, the Coalition’s ‘evil twin’ lobby firm

Hidden behind two of Australia’s biggest lobbying firms is one company and an endless list of political links.

The head of Barton Deakin’s Commonwealth division, Grahame Morris.

It was on April Fools’ Day 1997 that a group of Labor Party staffers set out to change the way the political lobbying business operated in Australia.

They determined not to be just another public relations company that also did some work with government. They would be all politics, all the time. [Read More...]

02 July 2015
by Jennifer Wilson

Tony Abbott: the human face of evil

More than forty current and former workers at Australia’s detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island are challenging Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton to prosecute them under the new secrecy laws for speaking out over human rights abuses.

What, exactly, is the government going to do to these forty professionals, and others who will no doubt join them? Arrest them all? Charge them? [Read More...]

02 July 2015
by Ross Sharp

White Trash on Heat

It is another time, and it is another place, far, far away.

New laws rule this land in this time, and these laws must be upheld by das Volk to ensure the safety of the nation from those who would destroy it, those who would corrupt the minds of its young, befoul the tender flesh of itsfrauen, and recast the very soul and substance of its culture and the state, the cities and the towns, into a libertine haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks. [Read More...]

02 July 2015

Immigration workers ask to be charged under new Border Force gag laws

Suffer the little children: The Government and the Opposition both voted for new laws gagging whistleblowers from speaking out about what they see at detention centres

Scores of current and former workers at Australia's immigration detention centres write an open letter to Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton and Bill Shorten, challenging them to prosecute the authors under new laws aimed at gagging workers from speaking out about abuses in these concentration camps. [Read More...]

02 July 2015

Why Do We Follow Westminster?

When a government acts secretly, it allows great freedom for them to conduct nefarious activities.

We in Australia have become rather silent on our governments' opaque activities, and by that itself, means we condone the acts that they are pursuing, ostensibly, 'in our best interests'. [Read More...]

01 July 2015
by John de Meyrick

The rule of law: what does it really mean?

The term, "the rule of law" is constantly used by politicians, journalists, commentators and others as meaning that everyone is subject to the law and everyone must abide by the law.

Also, in this 800th anniversary year of the sealing of Magna Carta, it has been said and written by commentators that it was Magna Carta in 1215 that established the rule of law.

These usages of the term are not entirely correct and in some contexts they can be altogether misleading. [Read More...]

01 July 2015

Australia is getting played for a mug with tax dodging

PayPal is no pal of the Australian Tax Office. Like its sister company eBay, the electronic payments provider seems hell bent on making as little in the way of profit in this country as it possibly can.

After all, if you make a profit, you have to pay tax on it. So it is that an investigation by Fairfax Media and University of NSW accounting academic Jeff Knapp found PayPal rakes out 86 per cent of its revenue to an associate in Singapore, and countervailing its duties under the Corporations law, fails to disclose sufficient details of the arrangements. [Read More...]

01 July 2015

China not fit for global leadership

says top Canberra official Michael Thawley

Michael Thawley: "China won't help you produce a solution."

Australia's top public servant has dismissed any prospect of China leading the world, saying the economic giant is neither willing nor able to solve global problems.

Michael Thawley, secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, said China had shown itself to be more interested in challenging the existing order than building a better one. [Read More...]

01 July 2015

Labor set to abandon Kevin Rudd's leadership rules

Labor has left the door open for the caucus to reverse Kevin Rudd's rule that makes it nearly impossible for the party's elected leader to be toppled in a midnight coup.

The Australian Labor Party's draft national constitution, published on its website, includes changes made to the way the leader is elected - by an equally weighted ballot of caucus and party members. [Read More...]