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February articles have moved to the Archives

Click here to see them

March 2015

Read in 122 Countries


31 March 2015
by John Passant

Of shit sandwiches, tax ‘reform’ and taxing the rich

On Monday morning, Joe Hockey, the Australian Treasurer, released Re:think, a tax discussion paper. It is no accident that he did so at the Australian Council of Social Services office. Let’s hope ACOSS don’t fall for the 3 card trick that is the tax discussion paper.[Read More...]


31 March 2015

The Australian banking sector: Predatory and untouchable

The Australian banking sector is dominated by corrupt organisations that also run banks on the side, supported by a craven, supplicant media and political establishment.

The NAB has currently been exposed as running a corrupt "wealth management" division.[Read More...]


31 March 2015

Lacking an agenda, the Abbott Government's time is running out

The release of the tax policy discussion paper by Treasurer Joe Hockey more than 18 months into the life of the Abbott Government offers important clues to the problems the Coalition has been suffering since it took office in September 2013.


When it comes to producing a comprehensive, far-reaching policy regime – a coherent vision for Australia’s society and economy and how to turn it into reality – the Government is only getting started. Having spent the first half of its first term going in one direction, killing off Labor’s carbon and mining taxes and thoroughly mismanaging its attempts to hack into the budget deficit, it has stopped and is looking for another path.[Read More...]


30 March 2015

Budget 2015: Treasurer Joe Hockey hints the Government will be introducing a bank deposits tax

Mainstream media is abuzz with suggestions Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey will introduce a 0.5% tax on deposits into bank accounts with up to $250000 in them. This latter figure is the level up to which government underwrites and guarantees payment in the event of a run on the banks.

Instead of a tax on bank accounts, how about a super profits tax on the most profitable banks in the world.[Read More...]


30 March 2015

Bill Shorten backs pay rise for the poorest

First for an opposition leader: Bill Shorten.

Bill Shorten has risked Labor's already tense relationship with employers by becoming the first opposition leader to intervene in a national wage case.

Arguing that higher minimum wages lead to greater economic stability, the opposition leader says he wants the safety-net wage to protect its purchasing power but also so it can flow through to higher award-based wages too.[Read More...]


30 March 2015

Tax white paper: Treasury urges more GST, less income tax

Steering the response to proposed taxation changes: Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Victoria on Sunday.

The Commonwealth Treasury has set out the case for an increase in Australia's rate of goods and services tax and a series of cuts in income and company tax, saying that at 10 per cent, Australia's GST is one of the lowest in the developed world.

In a discussion paper released to encourage contributions ahead of a white paper that will set out the government's priorities on tax, the Treasury says that of the 33 developed countries that have taxes similar to the GST, only 3 charge less than Australia.[Read More...]


30 March 2015

What's in a target? Australia warned not to 'cook the books' on emissions cuts

The Australian government is changing how it expresses climate change targets in way that could make it appear to the public as though it is cutting greenhouse gas emissions more rapidly than it is.

As bureaucrats in the Prime Minister's department work on a pledge Australia can take to a year-end global climate summit in Paris, it is understood they are canvassing shifting the year against which any cut is measured.[Read More...]


30 March 2015

NSW election 2015: Little comfort for Prime Minister Tony Abbott in strong Mike Baird win

Opposing propositions: Tony Abbott the polariser and Mike Baird the likeable.

The embattled Abbott government is breathing a sigh of relief after voters in NSW bucked the trend of ditching first-term governments, opting to stay with popular Liberal Premier Mike Baird.

In a strong performance, welcomed by federal Liberals as "stopping the electoral rot" that had begun in Victoria in November and continued in Queensland in January, the Baird Coalition was easily returned albeit with a smaller majority.[Read More...]


28 March 2015
by Jack Waterford

Dead heat between two bad arguments

The Labor Party presenting itself to the voters of NSW today is in several cosmetic respects different from the party rightly and decisively rejected by the voters of NSW only four years ago. But that it can expect a big swing, with even a (if very remote) chance of being back on the Treasury benches, says more about the Liberal Party's misfortunes, and the electorate's tolerance, than any sign that it has learnt much from the drubbing.[Read More...]


28 March 2015
by Halifax Bennett

NSW Greens seeking to capitalise on Baird’s unpopular policies

(NSW Greens' campaign placard)

The Greens have come out swinging in the upcoming NSW election in what looks to be a close contest. With an eye to snagging a couple of extra seats in both houses, the Greens have focused on specific issues, as Halifax Bennett reports.

ON THE eve of the NSW state election, householders would have received the usual campaign literature from the major parties, plus maybe one or two independents. But the big surprise this year is the campaign by the Greens.[Read More...]


28 March 2015
by Kellie Tranter

Global water woes: Australia's looming water crisis

With the world facing a 40% water shortfall by 2030 threatening Australia's food and water security. The Abbott Government nneds to urgently address the need for investment in water research and development.

NO-ONE cares about water until the taps run dry. It’s a reality now facing the residents of Broken Hill. In time we all will, including our Asian neighbours, unless we confront and plan for our water-insecure future.[Read More...]


27 March 2015

How property investing politicians have skin in the game on the negative gearing debate

Australia's federal politicians have been outed as the country's most eager property investors, casting doubt on their willingness to rein in negative gearing.

The controversial practice allows taxpayers to use tax losses from rental properties to cut their taxable income. Critics argue it contributes to Australia's house affordability crisis.[Read More...]


27 March 2015
by Sandi Keane

Money politics trumps party loyalty as Ferguson enters the NSW anti-CSG fray

Labor's anti-CSG campaign poster

The power of money over party loyalty is patently obvious with APPEA’s Chairman, Martin Ferguson, siding with NSW Liberals on behalf of their mining paymasters.

NSW Labor’s plan to cancel Santos’ coal seam gas project in the Pilliga State Forest has spawned a thunderous barrage of spin by Ferguson, who now holds several mining industry posts in addition to chairing the advisory board of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA). So, no surprises here whose interests are paramount.[Read More...]


27 March 2015

Senate passes controversial metadata laws

Attorney-Metadata laws passed: General Senator George Brandis.

Australians will have two years of their metadata stored by phone and internet providers after the Abbott government's controversial data retention laws passed parliament.
But it's still unclear how much will be added to internet users' monthly bills.

The latest suite of national security legislation passed the upper house on Thursday evening with bipartisan support.[Read More...]


26 March 2015
by Peter Wicks

Luke Foley launches Labors NSW Animal Welfare Policy

Today Labor launched its policy on animal welfare, although unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of a busy election campaign, it appeared to get lost in all the noise about Mike Baird and the Liberal Party’s power privatisation plan that appears to get shadier by the minute.

The policy Labor has launched is perhaps the most comprehensive animal welfare policy that NSW, and perhaps the nation has ever seen from any of the major political parties.[Read More...]


26 March 2015

Libs wheel out robo-Turnbull in Abbott snub

Malcolm Turnbull with Mike Baird at Coogee Beach

Liberals snub Tony Abbott by wheeling out Malcolm Turnbull for assault on marginal state seats.

The NSW Liberal Party has risked reigniting leadership tensions within the federal party by using Malcolm Turnbull in a last-minute push to shore up votes in marginal seats.

Voters in the state electorates of Coogee and Blue Mountains received recorded telephone messages – known as a "robocall" - from Mr Turnbull on Tuesday night.[Read More...]


26 March 2015

Liberal National party fundraising bodies forced to correct AEC returns

Queensland LNP leader Lawrence Springborg

AEC review reveals multiple errors amounting to millions of dollars were made in political donation disclosures while accounting for fundraising bodies was managed by the LNP

A group of powerful fundraising bodies linked to the Queensland Liberal National party have made substantial and repeated errors in their political donation disclosures while their accounting was managed by the party itself, and have been forced to make millions of dollars in corrections to their annual returns.[Read More...]


25 March 2015

Budget measures finished, but Liberals still want cuts

Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne suffered another humiliation when their university deregulation plans were defeated in the Senate for a second time in March. Abbott’s budget agenda is now in tatters. The government has declared that its Medicare GP co-payment was “dead, buried and cremated”. The Coalition has been forced to drop its two most high profile budget attacks—for now.

But the government is in disarray. Abbott and Hockey have backflipped—going from demanding savage cuts to saying the budget is manageable. The backflip has dismayed senior public servants and big business.[Read More...]


25 March 2015
by Kaye Lee

Mining and politics are joined at the hip

The following is a Facebook post by Jeremy Buckingham.

There is a revolving door between mining and government.

The following is a list of some of the people who work or worked as lobbyists for the mining industry who used to be or became politicians, including ministers, advisers for Liberal, Labor and National Party politicians or senior government bureaucrats. It is by no means complete but gives a sense of the extent of the revolving door between miners and the government.[Read More...]


25 March 2015
by Peter Wicks

Private Mike Baird: The NSW sell-out

With the NSW election only a couple of days away, it is clear that Baird Government's plan to privatise NSW's electricity network is the hot issue.

It has heated up even further with revelations Premier Baird pressured investment bank UBS into changing a report that said the privatisation would damage the NSW bottom line. Of course, Mike Baird is a former investment banker and UBS stands to make millions in fees from the proposed sale, so few would be surprised that the bank duly buckled under Baird's influence in agreeing to sex up the proposed sale dossier.[Read More...]


25 March 2015
by Ross Elliott

Where we live: the case for suburban renewal

The advent of ‘urban renewal’ in the 1990s has been such a blistering policy success that it’s now arguably well out of proportion to the realities of need based on where people actually live. It’s as if the magic “5 kilometre ring” around our city centres has become a policy preoccupation and an industry obsession. One look at the evidence though suggests perhaps it’s time we turned attention to the suburbs, where the vast majority of us live, to restore some balance.[Read More...]


24 March 2015

World’s largest asteroid impact zone found in Aust

Rock features showing shock metamorphic deformations.

Australian scientists have uncovered what is believed to be the largest asteroid impact zone ever found on Earth, in central Australia.

A team led by Dr Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University (ANU) said two ancient craters found in central Australia were believed to have been caused by one meteorite that broke in two.[Read More...]


24 March 2015

Bill Shorten labour opposition leader - nose picker, snot roller, and eater of snot

Sometimes politicians disgust me.

Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition, would be Prime Minister, shows his true form in business class, snot gobbling.[Read More...]


24 March 2015

Foreign aid becomes a pawn in leadership play

It is among the cheaper plays in the book of expedient governing: Hit foreign aid.

It was a lever pulled in the Abbott government's first budget and apparently someone influential wants to give it another hearty yank this time around.
The exasperation on the Foreign Minister's face on Monday spoke more clearly than a thousand angry words.

Her visual disdain – directed at Treasurer Joe Hockey who was lauding the razor gang in Parliament - followed the chief diplomat's ice-cold public response to a newspaper suggestion of another aid cut in May.[Read More...]


23 March 2015
by Smelly Tongues

Double Dissolution? No! Double Barrel Shotgun? Hmmm!

KILL ‘EM ALL AND LET GOD SORT THEM OUT

ABC News Breakfast Thursday morning crosses to a live interview on ABC Radio with Finance Minister Matthias Corman.
Corman is asked straight up if he were active in alleged discussions on calling a double dissolution.

He says he was not, and then continues that the only thing he has been active in is getting on with the job of government and addressing those issues that are of real concern to the Australian people today, which is jobs and the economy, and the mess we’re in, and the previous Labor Government this and the previous Labor Government that, and so forth.

After one particularly mind-numbing stream of incoherent babble, I mutter “Jesus Christ”, hit the mute button on the remote and decide this would be a good time to go have a shower and get ready for work.[Read More...]


23 March 2015

The Moss Review exposes the sexual and physical brutality on Nauru and all Tony Abbott can say is ‘things happen’

The Moss Review exposes the sexual and physical brutality on Nauru and all Tony Abbott can say is ‘things happen’. His government released the review an hour after news that Fraser had died hits he airwaves in the hope that the rape, self harm, beatings etc are ignored by the Australian media and public in the frenzy over Fraser’s death.[Read More...]


23 March 2015
by Dr. Rachel Stevens

Exposing the reality of Fraser’s treatment of Vietnamese refugees

No, the Fraser era was not a golden age for asylum seekers

Australia has rarely had a humane refugee policy and the idea that the Fraser government compassionately welcomed Vietnamese asylum seekers is amiss.

Asylum seeker policy is sure to be a divisive issue again this year. Instead of wishing that Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had the courage and decency of their predecessors 35 years ago, we should acknowledge that the Fraser government's reaction to the Vietnamese refugee crisis was far from ideal.[Read More...]


23 March 2015

Tony Abbott stays mum while Mike Baird plays dad

An amazing scene. Perhaps for the first time in nearly two months Tony Abbott was seen and not heard.
Only a man of the calibre of Mike Baird could be capable of such a feat.

Sitting in the pantheon of Liberal leading lights while the Premier officially launched his 2015 election campaign at the City Recital Hall on Sunday, the Prime Minister remained dumb and dumber.[Read More...]


22 March 2015
by Collin Myers

Not a conservative western Victorian grazier

A great Australian, Malcolm Fraser infuriated the narrow minded because he would not fit neatly into the conservative, western Victorian grazier box.

This is the Prime Minister whose government rivalled and even outdid his contemporary Margaret Thatcher's budget cutting. This is the supporter of State aid to private schools at a time when such a resolute position placed him to the right of the right. This is the Army Minister in the Vietnam war.

Yet this is the same Prime Minister who identified with black southern Africa. Who defied the bureaucrats to let the Vietnamese into Australia by the hundreds of thousands...[Read More...]


20 March 2015

Tony Abbott's Nazi taunt backfires, sparking questions over his judgment

Tony Abbott's comparison of Labor leader Bill Shorten to one of the 20th century's most reviled genocidal killers, the Nazi propagandist and anti-Semite Joseph Goebbels, has provoked outrage and again sparked discussions over his judgment and aggressive style in politics.

In a stunning declaration from which he was quickly forced to resile, Mr Abbott described Mr Shorten as the "Dr Goebbels of economic policy" during question time before swiftly withdrawing the comment.[Read More...]


20 March 2015
by Kellie Tranter

Who is really behind the headlong rush to sell off public assets in NSW?

Who are the ideological forces or vested interests behind the headlong rush to sell off public assets in NSW?

IT'S JUST over a week away from the NSW State election and the New South Wales Government has reportedly been selling public assets on a massive scale. Treasurer Joe Hockey has promised to give billions of dollars in federal cash to state governments who reinvest the proceeds from privatisations back into the building of new infrastructure. Is this an ideological push by the Federal Government onto the state governments or are they bowing to the wishes and ideologies of our financial overlords?[Read More...]


20 March 2015
by Nial McLaren

Australia's Tea Party crashes and burns

The U.S.'s first attempt to export the Tea Party has all but imploded. Angry voters have hit back at the Australian Liberal Party's doctrinaire adoption of brutal right-wing policies. There is a larger message in this antipodean squabble.

IN WASHINGTON, the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action) conference is underway, giving "potential presidential candidates" of the Republican persuasion the chance to parade their wares under the floodlights.[Read More...]


19 March 2015
by Smelly Tongues

SPACE COWBOY

I was idly flipping through the pages of “The Australian” yesterday (it’s a quick flip), at my local pub, quietly sipping a beer, when my eye did spy amidst the cluster of bylines and scribblings from a small flock of old white people on the “opinion” pages, an ode.

An ode of love. Of joy and of devotion. Of high praise for the constancy of spirit, the balance of mind, the purity of soul and embodiment of the rugged individualism of Man, One Man, Tony Abbott, Prime Minister.

The piece was penned by Maurice (You Can Call Me The Space Cowboy) Newman, [Read More...]


19 March 2015

Tony Abbott proves he's the new Einstein: metadata bends time

Metadata never worried Tony Abbott the journalist

The Prime Minister says reporters need not fear police accessing their metadata to identify their sources- he never worried about his own metadata being accessed when he was a journalist.

'I was never worried about metadata'

Tony Abbott is a genius.
He has proved Albert Einstein's greatest theory, propounded 100 years ago. Time and space do bend![Read More...]


18 March 2015
by Max Atkinson

Freedom of conscience and the Liberal Party

In recent times Liberal Party supporters were shocked to see how many of their elected members wanted to replace the Prime Minister, and to learn that Abbott was himself taken by surprise. It spurred a move, by NSW Liberal politicians John Alexander and Angus Taylor, to change the rules - as Labor did under former PM Rudd - to raise the voting bar for a leadership spill to 60 or 70 per cent.[Read More...]


18 March 2015
by John Quiggin

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: it might be about trade, but it’s far from free

Not quite secret: opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement during negotiations in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, in July last year.

This secretive agreement is less about free trade than about protecting American interests. But there’s a glimmer of a chance it won’t proceed

There can be few topics as eye-glazingly dull as international trade agreements. Endless hours of negotiation on such arcane topics as rules of origin and most favoured nation status combine with an alphabet soup of acronyms to produce a barely readable text hundreds of pages long. But unless you were actually involved in exporting or importing goods, or faced import competition, it used to be safe enough to leave the details to diplomats and trade bureaucrats.[Read More...]


18 March 2015
by Petrer Brent

Back to base

Are the self-appointed consciences of the Liberal Party helping the government?

It’s a game some political observers pass the time with: counting participants’ words in encounters between government ministers and radio broadcaster Alan Jones. These tend to involve not so much an interrogation, much less the eliciting of information, as a scolding and a demand for promises of obedience.[Read More...]


17 March 2015
by Kellie Tranter

El Modelo

The three pillars of the notorious Washington Consensus were fiscal austerity, privatisation and liberalisation. They are precisely the principles that the Abbott government espouses, and implements when it can.

It's only weeks away from the NSW State election and the New South Wales Government has reportedly been selling public assets on a massive scale. Treasurer Joe Hockey has promised to give billions of dollars in Federal cash to State governments who reinvest the proceeds from privatisations back into the building of new infrastructure. Is this an ideological push by the Federal Government onto the State Governments or are they bowing to the wishes and ideologies of our financial overlords?[Read More...]


17 March 2015
by Edward Eastwood

Unemployment looms for Job Network staff: Karma’s a bitch

Are staff at the Job Network Providers about to fall prey to rising unemployment? Edward Eastwood reports:

My case-work officer at the Job Network provider doesn’t seem too bad a human being. It’s just that he has some strange ideas and is looking very worried.
He worries about dole bludgers and those who rort the system, he worries about Islamic terrrorists. He thinks that putting young unemployed into the army is a good idea. He sees himself as an avenger appointed by that most put upon of species; the Australian tax-payer.
On this day however, he is not worried about any of the above. Today he’s worried about job loss – his own.[Read More...]


17 March 2015

Joe Hockey outclassed on Q&A, by an economist

John Daley

Treasurer Joe Hockey was upstaged and shirtfronted on Q&A Monday night, but not by a member of the audience or a political opponent.

The man who cut him down to size on questions including negative gearing, tax and infrastructure spending was John Daley, the Melbourne-based research economist who runs the Grattan Institute.[Read More...]


16 March 2015

Tony Abbott’s affinity with ADF reflected in parliament

The red and green houses of parliament are being tinged with khaki as an increasing number of former defence force personnel enter politics.

When Tony Abbott made his about-face on Australian Defence Force pay, he was flanked by two first-term MPs who had run a covert operation to force his hand.

While independent senator Jacqui Lambie had threatened to block legislation if there was no further pay rise, Andrew Nikolic and Linda Reynolds had used tactical nous gained through decades of military service to campaign for change behind the scenes.[Read More...]


16 March 2015

Abbott running short of spares

We all know the car industry is on its way out. This week Tony Abbott decided he was not going to willingly join it at the exit. There is no other way to see the decision to reverse a planned cut of half-a-billion dollars to the car makers and local component manufacturers. The stated reason was the factories were in grave danger of running out of parts if their suppliers shut up shop before the scheduled closures. The real reason was the prime minister had run out of spare political capital. Some of his strongest backers in South Australia had hit the panic button. If he wasn’t prepared to shift, he risked losing their support.[Read More...]


16 March 2015
by Michael Gordon

Patrick Dodson's heartfelt plea to Tony Abbott: Change course on indigenous policy before it's too late

Senior Yawuru men Patrick Dodson, Neil McKenzie and Lalga Djiagween with young Yawuru men discussing ceremonial sites at a meeting tree near Broome.

Patrick Dodson, one of the country's most respected indigenous leaders, has issued an urgent plea to Tony Abbott to change track, warning that the fate of the referendum on recognition of the first Australians hangs in the balance.[Read More...]


15 March 2015

Australian Support for China-led development bank grows despite US opposition

Support for a Chinese-led development bank is growing despite US opposition, with Australia indicating that it could join the UK and New Zealand as a founding member.[Read More...]


15 March 2015
by Rob Marsh

Choosing to Lie About Indigenous Australia: Why Tony Abbott Should Do More Than Just Apologize

Tony Abbott has, yet again, demonstrated his appalling lack of knowledge on even the most basic aspects of our society with comments made last week that claimed the problems Aboriginal people face are a result of “poor lifestyle choices”.

The irony of a rich, Catholic white male lecturing a people who have routinely been consciously disadvantaged by government after government after government in this country is palpable.[Read More...]


15 March 2015
by Alan Austin

Abbott trashes Australia’s reputation abroad — again

Abbott's comments have yet again provoked worldwide condemnation and derision There is no place on the globe to escape the opprobrium and embarrassment generated by Australia's uniquely hamfisted prime minister. Mon dieu!

SHAMELESS, insensitive, outrageous, incredibly racist, intransigent, shameful, disrespectful, lacking humanity and completely disconnected from reality. These are just some of the loathsome labels attached to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, as the world’s media again shakes its head in collective disbelief and mild abhorrence.[Read More...]


13 March 2015

Palmer United Party official claims Glenn Lazarus quit after wife Tess was sacked

Lazarus quits Palmer United Party

Senator Glenn Lazarus resigns from PUP, declaring on his Facebook page:

"I have a different view of team work".

Senator Glenn Lazarus quit the Palmer United Party after his wife and chief of staff was fired, party boss Peter Burke claims.

Mr Burke made the claim in response to Senator Lazarus' shock resignation from the party, which leaves leader Clive Palmer with just one vote in the Senate via the reclusive West Australian senator Dio Wang.[Read More...]


13 March 2015
by Smelly Tongues

SICK OF's

Since 1972, when I was thirteen years old, I have observed Prime Ministers from the late Gough Whitlam through Paul Keating through to the shambolic dysfunction and shrill, shrieking chaos of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years, but of the current incumbent, Tony Abbott, I have now come to the sad, but somewhat predictable, one could say inevitable, conclusion that Our Prime Minister’s Brain Is Missing.[Read More...]


13 March 2015
by Peter Wicks

The Power And The Passion – Mike Baird’s plan to privatise the NSW power network

Mike Baird - Ignoring the obvious

With the NSW election only a couple of short weeks away and pre-poll voting kicking off on Monday it has become clear that the selling off of the NSW electricity network is the hot issue.

Privatisation was a hot issue in the recent QLD election which saw a Coalition government booted out of office after just one term, despite the huge swing towards the Coalition in the previous election.
In NSW, Mike Baird wants to sell off one asset that is used by virtually everyone living in NSW, our power network.[Read More...]


12 March 2015

Tony Abbott does not like what government is doing to pensions: Liberal MP

MP Angus Taylor

Is a pension backflip coming?

It would be possible to retain the current indexation of pensions if budget savings can be found elsewhere, says Liberal MP Angus Taylor.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott "does not love" the government's plan to peg the age pension at a lower rate and if alternative savings can be found and the budget returned to surplus, a higher rate of increase could be reapplied sooner, a Liberal MP said.[Read More...]


12 March 2015

Vietnamese boats 'unseaworthy', government sources say

Two of the Vietnamese fishing boats in a Darwin boat yard.

The fleet of brightly coloured wooden Vietnamese fishing boats that the Australian government will use to turn back asylum seekers are unseaworthy and ethically wrong to use, marine sources in Darwin say.

A government official and a local fisher say they were shocked at the building standards of the 20-metre green, blue and red fishing boats that will replace the garish orange lifeboats that were deemed "unsinkable".[Read More...]


12 March 2015

Christopher Pyne blames Labor for education reforms surprise

Education minister says Labor abandonment of planned university savings forced him to embark on program of sweeping change that was not discussed before election.

Christopher Pyne has pointed the finger at Labor as he sought to justify the Coalition’s failure to tell voters about plans to make sweeping changes to the university sector.

In a speech to university leaders in Canberra on Wednesday night, the education minister addressed the government’s lack of an electoral mandate to remove limits on fees – widely seen as one of the major obstacles to securing public and parliamentary support for the package.[Read More...]


11 March 2015

Indonesia 'could release human tsunami of 10,000 asylum seekers on Australia'

An Indonesian police officer watches a fishing boat carrying asylum seekers.

Minister warns Canberra to stop agitating for clemency for Bali Nine pair with reminder that Jakarta’s cooperation is vital to ‘stopping the boats’

Indonesia could release a “human tsunami” of 10,000 asylum seekers on Australia if Canberra continues to agitate for clemency for the death row pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, an Indonesian minister has warned.[Read More...]


11 March 2015
by John Lord

At the Risk of Repeating Myself: Abbott’s Gone

Good Government, he said, would begin again after 17 months of mediocrity and find its way out of the dark hole it had been hiding in. The adults would grow up and all would be right with the political world.

How is it that when a demonstrably unpopular, lying Prime Minister, devoid of any qualities of leadership, who has been so universally condemned in the media and by both supporter and foe alike for his deplorable governance, wasted 18 months of the life of the nation and survived a leadership spill – in the space of two weeks taken his party from a hopeless position to a winning one in the polls?[Read More...]


11 March 2015

'This is an own goal': Ian Macfarlane accused of bungling car industry assistance announcement

The government is trying to claim credit for being generous when in reality it is benefiting from decisions encouraged by its former parsimony.

The federal government's attempt to capitalise on a decision to keep $500 million in assistance for the car industry has backfired spectacularly, with senior colleagues of Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane accusing of him of bungling the announcement and scoring a political own goal.[Read More...]


11 March 2015

Joe Hockey defamation trial: Words are bullets, says the Treasurer

Joe Hockey takes the stand

Form inviting public to donate to the Treasurer was "clearly misleading", Joe Hockey tells defamation trial on Tuesday.

"Words are bullets," Joe Hockey told Matthew Collins, QC. As if to confirm his point, the federal Treasurer engaged in a marathon verbal shootout on Tuesday with Dr Collins, the barrister defending Fairfax Media against Mr Hockey, who claims its publications vengefully cast him as a corrupt minister who let businesses and lobbyists influence his decisions in return for bribes in the form of political donations.[Read More...]


11 March 2015

Rolf de Heer slams Tony Abbott over 'lifestyle choice' comments on remote Aboriginal communities

Extraordinary ... director Rolf de Heer on the set of Charlie's Country.

Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer has lashed out at Prime Minister Tony Abbott for saying that indigenous Australians live in remote communities because of "lifestyle choices".

Speaking after the Aboriginal drama Charlie's Country won best film and best director at the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards in Sydney, the director of such acclaimed indigenous dramas as The Tracker and Ten Canoes described the comment as "offensive".[Read More...]


10 March 2015

Whistleblower goodies and baddies

When Kathy Jackson blew the whistle on Craig Thomson for misusing union funds, she was praised by various members of the Coalition. Tony Abbott described her as “a brave decent woman”, a “credible whistleblower” whose actions were “heroic”. Christopher Pyne labelled her a “revolutionary” who will be “remembered as a lion of the union movement.” George Brandis and Eric Abetz were similarly effusive in their praise.[Read More...]


10 March 2015

Abbott, Hockey, Procrustes and 21st Century Australia!

Procrustes was a host who adjusted his guests to their bed. Procrustes, whose name means “he who stretches”, was arguably the most interesting of Theseus’s challenges on the way to becoming a hero. He kept a house by the side of the road where he offered hospitality to passing strangers, who were invited in for a pleasant meal and a night’s rest in his very special bed. Procrustes described it as having the unique property that its length exactly matched whomsoever lay down upon it. What Procrustes didn’t volunteer was the method by which this “one-size-fits-all” was achieved, namely as soon as the guest lay down Procrustes went to work upon him, stretching him on the rack if he was too short for the bed and chopping off his legs if he was too long. Theseus turned the tables on Procrustes, fatally adjusting him to fit his own bed: Mythweb[Read More...]


10 March 2015

Show me more sex, judge tells council in landmark legal case

Hornsby Council spent more than $100,000 to have an alleged illegal brothel closed and lost its case in court.

Case dismissed: Pupils from Hornsby Girls' High School walk past a massage parlour that won a legal battle with the council.

A Sydney council has lost a landmark legal battle against a massage parlour it alleged was operating as an illegal brothel, after a court ruled the council failed to prove there was enough sex being provided on the premises.

Hornsby Council paid a private investigator to go undercover inside the parlour and have sex with a prostitute as part of a bitter, year-long legal battle to have the operation closed. The business operates directly next door to a tutorial centre for primary school children - and 50 metres away from Hornsby Girls' High School.[Read More...]


09 March 2015
by John Passant

International Women’s Day and female doctors being raped at work in Australia

Dr Gabrielle McMullin is a senior vascular surgeon. Alice Matthews from ABC News interviewed her after the release of her new book Gender Equality – The Role of Merit and Quotas.

In the interview Dr McMullin detailed the case of Caroline whose career as a neurosurgeon was destroyed before it started. She rejected the request of one of her colleagues, a male mentor and supervisor, for sex. It was a long battle for her to win her complaint against the man, who after the rejection began giving her bad reports. She has never been employed as a neurosurgeon.[Read More...]


09 March 2015
by Rob Marsh

Privatisation: Just Who Is It For?

New South Wales is following Canberra’s lead in adopting what the Abbott government is referring to as “asset recycling”, which in practice translates to privatisation, securing 2 billion dollars under the deal.[Read More...]


09 March 2015

UN report to state Australia is in breach of international torture convention

An independent expert has found aspects of Australia's asylum-seeker policies have breached the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

A report addressing concerns about Manus Island, as well as recent amendments to maritime laws, is due to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council today.[Read More...]


09 March 2015
by Peter Wicks

Jackson and Lawler's guest list and Tony Abbott's judgement

Who turns up for lunch at the Lawler household when they are entertaining David Rofe QC provides food for thought.

This week, once again, Brad Norington of The Australian has revived my faith in investigative journalism in this country.

Norington, on February 28 exposed us to the murky world of Tony Abbott's heroes Kathy Jackson and Michael Lawler and their recent relationship with 83-year-old dementia sufferer David Rofe QC, and in particular their involvement with his estimated $30 million estate. Many have described their behaviour as “ambulance chasing”, and there are other words I could use to describe their behaviour and ethics that are not fit to print.[Read More...]


08 March 2015

Joe Hockey, the wily old fortune-seller

This week Treasurer Joe Hockey pulled out his crystal ball to give the nation a foretaste of where it will be in 40 years’ time. The fact of the matter is, like the rest of us he has as much idea about that as who will lead the government into next year’s election.[Read More...]


08 March 2015

Inside the Knox Grammar's sexual abuse scandal

How one man’s blindness allowed a generation of sexual abuse at Sydney’s Knox Grammar.

He would become known as the “balaclava man”. At least in the sordid lore of Sydney’s Knox Grammar, and in the airing of it at this week’s hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The nom de guerre was useful for the school, for it suggested mystery and not the immediate implication of one of its own teachers. But the boys who were there referred to him by another name. Chris Fotis, religious teacher and resident master.[Read More...]


08 March 2015

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison's 'fluffy' new image

His campaign to stop the boats made him the government’s toughest minister, but a new portfolio has Scott Morrison remodelling.

Scott Morrison, the hardest of hard nuts in the Abbott team, is now presenting as a voice of moderation, his simplistic sloganeering about stopping the boats replaced with more nuanced messaging.[Read More...]


05 March 2015

Virgin Mobile introduces data rollover for mobile plans

Virgin Mobile has responded to a push by consumer groups and their customers to allow ever-precious mobile phone data to roll over to the next month.

Starting today, the telco will allow customers on all existing post-paid mobile plans to upgrade to new ones allowing for data rollover. Existing customers who upgrade won't have to re-sign their contract or pay extra, while new customers will get the feature enabled by default.[Read More...]


04 March 2015

'Truly awful': Centrelink, Medicare apps slammed

The federal government's range of Medicare and Centrelink online apps are so bad they are getting claimants kicked off benefits, users have complained.[Read More...]











04 March 2015
by MIKE SECCOMBE

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s new leadership plan: panic

Tony Abbott’s security speech shows him already reaching for the last trick in the conservative playbook.

Australia’s national terrorist threat level remained unchanged at high this week. The prime ministerial alarm level, however, rose dramatically to six flags.[Read More...]


04 March 2015
by Yale Stephens

POLL REVIVAL? IF HE SURVIVES, ABBOTT MUST CHANGE

FOR THE SECOND TIME in a week, a new opinion poll has signalled a dramatic recovery in Coalition support, with the less-than-reliable Fairfax-Ipsos poll’s 51-49 lead to Labor apparently validating the four-point rise recorded by Newspoll last week. If these polls buy the Prime Minister time and should he survive, Tony Abbott must make changes, for even in recovery, he is burdened by unacceptable liabilities that continue to imperil his government.[Read More...]


04 March 2015

PALMER MPS NOT PAID TO DO NOTHING

PUP Senators Lazarus and Wang

THE RIDICULOUS NEWS that Clive Palmer and his remaining two Senators will abstain from voting on legislation — on the dubious pretext of “chaos” resulting from the unfortunate contortions over the Liberal Party leadership — is an anti-democratic travesty; Palmer United MPs will continue to enjoy salaries, air travel, staffing and other taxpayer-funded perks for not doing their job. Such a refusal should coincide with departure from Parliament.[Read More...]


03 March 2015
by John Passant

Labor’s ‘crackdown’ on tax avoidance: Shorten fiddles and revenue burns

Yesterday Bill Shorten released details of Labor’s crackdown on tax avoidance. It was small beer stuff.

Under changes to what are known as the thin capitalisation rules, (think interest deduction limits for business based on their net assets), Labor will put in place measures that will in many circumstances restrict the level of interest deductions big business can make. The current arrangements allow a ‘safe harbour’ deduction of interest up to 3:1. The changes will limit that to whatever is the global debt/equity ratio of the company below that.[Read More...]


03 March 2015
by Rob Marsh

Censors, Censures and Campus Cops

Justice Minister Michael Keenan

Justice Minister Michael Keenan today elucidated new changes to the controversial “Schools Security Programme” that would involve the employment of security personnel to oversee campuses at fifty four schools across the nation.

“It’s a commitment that we made prior to the last election to make sure that we were partnering with schools that might be at particular risk of intolerance”, the Minister stated in his address to the senate.

The program has existed since 2007, however until now the legislation has excluded the use of security personnel, limiting the available avenues of spending to stronger fencing, CCTV surveillance and anti-ramming devices.[Read More...]


03 March 2015
by Bruce Haigh

The Abbott Government and Sri Lanka's new regime

Maithripala Sirisena (right): a new broom?

Tony Abbott will need to take a different approach to new Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena, but is our current PM capable of change?

IN A SURPRISE RESULT Sri Lanka’s former minister for health, Maithripala Sirisena, was elected President on 8 January. Former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, called the election two years ahead of schedule and expected an easy victory.[Read More...]


03 March 2015

Trans Pacific Partnership will push medicine prices up, review finds

Trade minister Andrew Robb addresses House on Monday.

The proposed Trans Pacific Partnership is likely to push up the price of medicines, stop some Australians from taking their medicines and make it harder to restrict the sale of tobacco and alcohol, a comprehensive review of the deal between Australia and 11 other nations including the US and Japan has found.[Read More...]


03 March 2015

Wickr: the secret messaging app of the party unfaithful?

Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and other politicians said to be exchanging encrypted and self-destructing messages about the Liberals’ leadership crisis

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull and other politicians whose names were bandied about in last month’s attempted leadership spill are reported to be using a secure messaging app called Wickr.[Read More...]


02 March 2015

DFAT spends quarter of a billion guarding foreign embassies

Mercenaries don't come cheap. The Australian government has spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars on private military contractors to protect high risk diplomatic posts, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade plans to spend much more, according to official documents.

Two private military companies have earned more than $237 million dollars for guarding the Australian embassies in Afghanistan and Iraq and providing "close personal protection" for Australian diplomats in the two war-torn countries over the past five years.[Read More...]


02 March 2015

Tony Abbott's 'captain’s call' over Tasmanian forest humiliated Australia, Greens say

Freedom of Information documents reveal the PM pushed forward with an election pledge to delist world heritage forest despite departmental caution.

Prime minister Tony Abbott made a “captain’s call” over Tasmanian forestry policy which globally humiliated Australia, the Greens and a conservation group claim.

The Wilderness Society (TWS) says Freedom of Information documents reveal Abbott pushed forward with election commitments in the sector despite departmental caution.[Read More...]


01 March 2015
by Kaye Lee

The real stitch-up

Tony Abbott has been sneeringly yelling at anyone who will listen, if there are any of those left, that the government has no confidence in Gillian Triggs because the timing of her report shows it is a “stitch up” designed to make him look bad, like he isn’t capable of doing that on his own.[Read More...]


01 March 2015
by Annabel Crabb

Julie Bishop's game face

Political leaders often become well-known for a physical attribute. John Howard's eyebrows gave, to cartoonists, a whole new visual thesaurus for expressing his many moods. Kevin Rudd's hair – high-maintenance, studiedly casual, endlessly susceptible to breeze – became an allegory for the man himself.
But have we ever, in this country, witnessed a phenomenon quite as magically compelling as Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop's face?[Read More...]


01 March 2015

The Case Against Mandatory Prison Sentences, and Privatised Prisons

After a spate of judicial 'soft decisions', people are calling for mandatory sentences for specific crimes. We must be careful about this, particularly in any legislation which may be written that can be construed as a knee jerk reaction 'in the public interest'.
The trickle down effect can devastate a person's life for a minor 'crime'.
To demonstrate this, we highlight the case of Fate Winslow...

Life in Prison for Selling $20 of Weed
Homeless and hungry, Fate Vincent Winslow wanted something to eat, so he agreed to sell pot to a stranger—an undercover cop.[Read More...]