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May 2015

Read in 143 Countries

29 May 2015
by Rob Marsh

Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Free Market Hypocrisy

In an almost unbelievable report released on the 18th of May, the International Monetary Fund has shown that subsidies for fossil fuel companies have reached $10 million dollars a minute. The companies are benefitting from global subsidies of 5.3 trillion dollars a year, more than the total health spending of all the world’s governments. It seems that polluters have been failing to foot the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas, which include the adverse environmental effects of climate change such as floods and droughts, and the harm caused to local settlements by air pollution. [Read More...]

29 May 2015
by Peter McCloy

The power revolution - winners and losers

I have a grazier friend who invested more than $1 million in solar panels for his properties in the earliest days of such schemes. When I spoke to him recently he seemed quite satisfied with his investment, which he calculates is returning him 17% per annum.

On April 29 1998 the Howard government signed the Kyoto Protocol, and created the Australian Greenhouse Office, the world's first government agency dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In April 2001 they introduced the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme (MRET). This mandated that by 2010 electricity retailers and other large electricity buyers source an additional 2% (above 2001 levels of about 8%) of their electricity from renewable or specified waste-product energy sources. This target has grown to 20% renewables by 2020.

The scheme envisages two areas, large and small scale, the former covering large scale generators, the latter including domestic solar panels and solar hot water systems. [Read More...]

28 May 2015
by Liz Conor

LANGUAGE WARNING: This article contains phrases, while offensive to some, should not be all that unexpected.

On Tampons And Tax, Tony Abbott Is Not The Suppository Of All Wisdom

Tony Tony Tony.
I fear for you.

I wonder if you quite realise the hornets nest, the honey pot the spunk bucket the fish mitten the spam folder the grot slot the spasm chasm the spunk dungeon the passion purse the otter’s pocket the wiener warmer the skin mitten the meat purse the wellie top the mutton tube the tuna taco the panty hampster the money box the gutted quoka the collapsed mineshaft the pandora’s box you have stirred.

Ruling out removing the luxury tax on tampons is really a winkle of a move, a blart a cooze a vuvvle a minky a twinkle a lulu a snizz a mimsy a fuffkin a punani a clunge a growler a minge a flange a miffkin a tumpsy a slit a pussy a foof a twat a quim a snatch a chuff a gash a muff a fanny a vag a cunt.

Dammit, it slipped out, I was holding it in but, nope. Know the feeling Tony? [Read More...]

28 May 2015
by John Passant

I hate Australian capitalism. Will I be stripped of my Australian passport?

Peter Dutton

The Australian Cabinet, according to the Fairfax Press, had a vigorous debate about stripping the passports from Australian citizens who commit acts of terrorism or fight for the likes of ISIS.

The Cabinet decided to give the power to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to strip their passports if they were dual nationals. This would supposedly avoid making them stateless.

The cabal argued vigorously over the proposal to take away the citizenship of those who hold only Australian passport; so too the ‘softer’ two passports policy. According to Daniel Hurst in the Guardian Cabinet ‘deferred a decision on strong new powers against sole nationals after a cabinet backlash’.

Let’s make it crystal clear what the government is doing. It is abandoning its citizens. And not just that. It is doing so without evidence, or without due process. [Read More...]

28 May 2015
by Bob Ellis

Tony Abbott: A question of incompetence

Il Duce: The little dicktator

It will be remarked by historians how incompetent Abbott was at tyranny.

He claimed he had "stopped the boats" and, when thousands of stateless Rohingyas were found floating off Malaysia, he continued to claim he had; refused, moreover, to obey the UN and the Pope, and take some of them in. [Read More...]

27 May 2015

You really can go off-grid

These start-ups are about to do to the energy sector what Uber did to the taxi industry.

AGL's Marc England thinks home batteries will be used initially by early adopters. (photo)

For renewable energy nerds, Elon Musk's much anticipated May 1 announcement that his company, Tesla, would soon be selling "home batteries" – that is, technology capable of storing solar energy – generated the kind of euphoria reminiscent of Steve Jobs unveiling one of his devices.

Tesla hasn't invented "home batteries" any more than Apple invented MP3 players or tablet computers. In fact, anyone with $20,000 odd and a bit of technical nous has been able to use technology capable of storing solar energy for years. But that's thus far resulted in a tiny customer base almost exclusively made up of those in remote locations or with a passionate commitment to the environment.[Read More...]

27 May 2015

Tony Abbott a dual citizen Pom wants his minister to have the power to strip Australian born citizens of their birthright citizenship.

Cabinet revolt over Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton plan to strip Australians of citizenship

Tony Abbott confirms Australia will strip citizenship from dual nationals engaged in terrorism, and confirms cabinet was split over a plan to tackle sole Australian citizens.

Six members of the Abbott cabinet have risen up against an extraordinary proposal to give a minister the power to strip an Australian of their sole citizenship.[Read More...]

27 May 2015
by Natalie Crombe

Sorry Day sadness and the widening gap

Yesterday was Sorry Day — and there is much to be sorry about. We are now now than seven years on from Kevin Rudd's Apology to the Stolen Generation, yet Indigenous People are in an even worse position today than they were then, writes traditional owner Natalie Cromb.

Yesterday was sorry day, which has been commemorated since 26 May 1997 when the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament, which documented the forcible removal of Indigenous children from their parents over several generations.

On Wednesday, 13 February 2008 in the House of Representatives, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made history when he apologised on behalf of the Government to the Indigenous community of Australia — particularly the Stolen Generations.[Read More...]

26 May 2015
by David Leyonhjelm

Lies Lies Lies - Tax is too high every which way

Whichever way you look at it, our taxes are high.

They are high by historic standards. Fifty years ago, taxes were around $5,000 per person after adjusting for inflation. This grew to around $8,000 per person by the mid-1970s, $11,000 by the mid-1980s, $12,000 by the mid-1990s and $17,000 by the mid-2000s. Today the tax burden is around $19,000 per person, still allowing for inflation. [Read More...]

26 May 2015
by Michael Galvin

Time to go, Cardinal Pell

Cardinal George Pell does not seem to know it yet, but last week his world changed. Once and for all.

Last week, in Ballarat, no fewer than 17 survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church told their stories. The horror and pain in each individual story was gut-wrenching, but the cumulative effect was far worse than that. What emerged was a dense and interconnected latticework of violence, and sexual crimes of young children on a large scale.[Read More...]

25 May 2015

Budget smoke and mirrors, but Abbott keeps his cuts

Tony Abbott is desperately praying that this year’s budget will save his skin. But the budget cuts from last year remain in place, and even his new spending on childcare relies on taking money allocated elsewhere for families and new mothers.

Abbott has maintained his fearmongering about terrorism and national security, boosting military spending. Interest rates are at an all-time low, but except for the NBN, there is no government spending on badly needed infrastructure like public transport and renewable energy that might create jobs.[Read More...]

25 May 2015
by Alan Austin

This is what the world thinks of Australia...

Tony Abbott’s harmful hypocrisy condemned worldwide

Australia is being exposed for its human rights failures worldwide — including in Russia, South Africa, Indonesia and China.
DISMAY AT Australia’s cruelty and hypocrisy is now worldwide...[Read More...]

25 May 2015
by Bob Ellis


The perfect storm consuming PM Abbott

Tony Abbott is in a perfect storm of bad confluent events that may, in the next few weeks, do for him.
Starving women and children on the high seas are begging for his help; he is telling them to come in the "front door", though for Rohingyas, who are citizens of no country, there is no such thing.[Read More...]

24 May 2015
by Mike Seccombe

BHP and Rio Tinto dictate terms to the Abbott governent

Fortescue Metals Group CEO Andrew Forrest.

Twiggy Forrest’s failed bid to reset the iron ore price inadvertently shows who really tells the Abbott government what to do.

It was a typical interview by the king of right-wing radio, Alan Jones, last Friday.

The host talked more than the guest. A long diatribe of introduction was followed by leading questions. All the prime minister was required to do was agree. And Tony Abbott duly did just that.

Jones’s bugbear du jour was the way two giant mining companies, Rio Tinto and BHP, were flooding the world market with iron ore and forcing down prices.[Read More...]

22 May 2015

5 Eyes: US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

Malware masterplan: NSA targeted Google & Samsung app stores to harvest data

The NSA and its spying partners wanted to hack into smartphones via Google and Samsung App stores and infect them with spyware. The revelations came from a top secret document released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The surveillance project wanted to implement a spying system called XKEYSCORE, which would be able to identify smartphone traffic flowing across internet cables and then track down smartphone connections to the app servers, which were operated by Google and Samsung. The information was released Wednesday to CBC News in Canada and the Intercept.

The aim was then to infect every app listed in the store with malware, in a project codenamed IRRITANT HORN. Users of the Google Play Store and Samsung App Store would then download the infected apps, thus making it easier for the NSA and its partners to spy smartphone users around the globe.[Read More...]

22 May 2015
by Thom Mitchell

Abbott Fiddles While Coal Burns: Renewable Energy Jobs Have Boomed Overseas. And Then There’s Australia

The Abbott Government’s determination to prop up Big Coal has left Australia a long way behind global trends on renewable energy.

State government anger at the Abbott Government’s stalled Renewable Energy Target is likely to grow with a new report this week revealing nearly eight million people are now employed in the sector globally.

The report, released by the International Renewable Energy Agency on Tuesday, found that more than one million jobs were created in the last year alone, bringing the total figure world-wide to 7.7 million.

But back in Australia, the fledgling renewable energy sector is in turmoil.[Read More...]

22 May 2015
by Bem Eltham

Paid Parental Leave: Why Break A Promise Once When You Can Double-Dip?

The Coalition's paid parental leave turnaround has left them spouting contradictory rhetoric and repeatedly breaking promises. With Labor staying firm it doesn't look like there will be an easy way out.

The Abbott government has suffered many misfortunes in its short life, lots of them self-inflicted. But one of this government’s most surprising ailments has been a certain tendency towards policy on the run.[Read More...]

21 May 2015

Excessive credit card fees persist

Consumers are still getting slugged by excessive surcharge fees levied by merchants on credit card payments, the Reserve Bank of Australia says.
The RBA is examining Australia’s card payments regulation after the Murray Financial System Inquiry raised concerns about a number of issues, including interchange fees and card surcharges.[Read More...]

21 May 2015
by Dr Benjamin Thomas Jones

Why the next federal election will be the most important in decades

All elections are important but with long standing Australian values concerning health, education and multiculturalism on the line, the next federal contest will be the most significant in decades, writes Dr Benjamin T. Jones.

The Abbott government has delivered its second budget and the political commentariat is rife with speculation. Are we due for an early election? In stark contrast to the intensely unpopular first budget, the latest offering contains tax breaks for small business and few measures to address the now distant “budget emergency”. It has all the hallmarks of an election budget.[Read More...]

21 May 2015
by Jay Dyer

Mad Max: Fury Road – The Inverted New Order

Film Poster.

Much furor has been raised over Imperator Furiosa, Charlize Theron’s “strong woman” figure in the latest Mad Max reboot: I expected some to retitle it Mad MaxiPad. Mad Max: Fury Road opened to a large box office success, and is undeniably a feat of technical and choreographic brilliance, setting a new standard for George Miller’s previous high-octane chase scene exuberance – this is George Miller on acid. While critics are lauding these (admittedly) spectacular feats of technical prowess, there are also deeper messages being conveyed that should be elucidated, especially the notions of the commodification and control of resources. Before investigating Fury Road, let’s consider the esoteric setting and context from the prequels.[Read More...]

20 May 2015

$5 note leads woman to a bag of cash at The Star casino

A woman took $624,340 in notes to the exclusive Sovereign Room and asked to put it in her casino account.

A man and a woman arranged a meeting at the Star Casino, agreeing she would hand over a $5 note.

The exchange of that note led them down to the car park to collect a backpack, hidden inside a plastic bag, containing far more cash.

From there, the couple went briefly to a hotel room, before the woman took $624,340 in notes to the exclusive Sovereign Room and asked to put it in her casino account.[Read More...]

20 May 2015
by Nassim Khadem

How McDonald's dodged half a billion dollars in Australian tax

In 2013 McDonald's Australia reported that it earned A$154.5 million in service fees from franchisees.

International fast-food giant McDonald's avoided paying half a billion dollars of tax in Australia over five-year period by shifting profits through the low-tax nation of Singapore, a new report by a global coalition of trade unions says.[Read More...]

19 May 2015
by Savitri Taylor

Equal protection of the law?

Prime minister Tony Abbott at Larrakeyah Barracks in Darwin in late 2013 with one of the Cape Class vessels used in Operation Sovereign Borders.

Has Australia cut itself adrift from international law? Savitri Taylor looks at the implications of recent refugee-related legislation

Like it or not, Australia is subject to two legal systems. Our domestic law, which we can change at will, regulates conduct within Australia. Equally as important, international law enables countries to coexist and cooperate. In principle, the two legal systems should be in harmony. In practice, they can drift dangerously apart. Yet Australia’s continued existence as a sovereign state depends on the international legal order, so we really have no option but to play by its rules.[Read More...]

19 May 2015

PNG imposes ban on Australians travelling to Bougainville

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill gave a talk at the Lowy Institute in Sydney last Thursday.

The Papua New Guinean government has banned Australians from travelling to Bougainville.

The ban comes after Australia's announcement that it planned to build a new diplomatic mission in the capital, a move that was slammed by PNG officials.
On Monday PNG's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato said the stringent measure would take effect immediately.[Read More...]

18 May 2015
by Naomi Fryers

George Brandis slugs the arts

Georgie Grub slugs the "Yartz"

George Brandis' shock move to goose step over the government's peak arts funding and advisory body by siphoning off its funding to his own arts fiefdom, smacks of fascist ideology. It's time to be alert and alarmed, warns Naomi Fryers.

Famous musicians, the Beatles, once sang,

“You say you want a revolution? Well, you know, we all want to change the world.”

Well, the current Federal Minister for the Arts George Brandis QC is attempting to throw one of his own and change the national landscape of Australia’s arts world. According to the Liberal Government’s 2015 Federal Budget, in excess of one hundred million dollars will be slashed and burned from funding to the Australia Council, the Government’s peak arts funding and advisory body and champion for Australian arts both nationally and internationally. [Read More...]

18 May 2015

Paid parental leave: Could the Coalition have been any dumber?

What a difference a year makes: Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come under pressure to consider an early election this year to capitalise on the public support while it is there.

It's the same kind of idiot who thinks it's a good idea to draw a line in the sand between the Coalition and Labor over super. Tony Abbott told Parliament last week there would be "no changes to super, no adverse changes to super in this term of Parliament, and we have no plans to make adverse changes to super in the future".

It was remarkable coming from a government whose Treasurer only six weeks ago reached out to Labor for a "bipartisan" approach on super, saying he had measures "under very active consideration".[Read More...]

18 May 2015

Tobacco industry threatens to launch super-cheap ciggies as officials want more power to seize illicit tobacco

NSW Health says that its inspectors have detected increased sales of illicit tobacco, which is packaged without health warnings and is sometimes blatantly labelled "illegal tobacco"

The tobacco industry has threatened to launch super-cheap cigarettes costing just $9 a pack in response to a growing black market in cheap, illegal tobacco, which health officials claim they are powerless to seize. [Read More...]

Abbott keeps his cuts amid budget smoke and mirrors

Tony Abbott is desperately praying that this year’s budget will save his skin. But the budget cuts from last year remain in place, and even his new spending on childcare relies on taking money allocated elsewhere for families and new mothers.

Abbott has maintained his fearmongering about terrorism and national security, boosting military spending. Interest rates are at an all-time low, but except for the NBN, there is no government spending on badly needed infrastructure like public transport and renewable energy that might create jobs. [Read More...]

14 May 2015
by John Passant

The bullsh*t Budget

‘Have a go.’ This is the mantra of the Abbott government in response to Tuesday night’s Budget.
They forgot to add the final two words of this famous Australian sporting epithet. ‘Have a go, ya mug’ is what they really mean. Mugs are what they are taking us for.[Read More...]

14 May 2015
by Craig Murray

Update: Striking Hypocrisy

A government elected to absolute power by 23% of those entitled to vote, legislates that just to go on strike will require the support of 40% of those entitled to vote. [Read More...]

14 May 2015
by Tim Colebatch

The budget: mostly normal, partly unreal

Federal treasurer Joe Hockey arrives at the dispatch box to deliver the 2015–16 federal budget, flanked by prime minister Tony Abbott, left, foreign minister Julie Bishop and education minister Christopher Pyne.

It’s the kind of budget Australian governments release when things aren’t going so well, but its shaky assumptions could easily rebound on the Coalition

Some commentators are telling us the budget shows the Abbott government has abandoned efforts to get the budget quickly back to surplus. They’re wrong; it abandoned that priority soon after it took office. This budget takes us further away from it, but that’s not the point. [Read More...]

13 May 2015

Did Guns N' Roses beg, borrow or steal from Australian Crawl?

Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses, 20 years after the 1987 hit.

No one official is saying it directly but maybe, just maybe, a lawyer or two is looking at Guns N' Roses and Australian Crawl and seeing not a totally weird double bill but a totally awesome massive bill.

After several years of chatter among fans this week has seen suddenly feverish public discussion about chord progressions, guitar sounds and something something something about a beach (that's the lyric isn't it?). [Read More...]

13 May 2015

Federal budget 2015: Houdini Hockey plots Tony Abbott's great escape

Treasurer Joe Hockey delivers his second budget in front of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Social Services Minister Scott Morrison.

This is Joe Hockey's Houdini budget, crafted to release the Treasurer and Tony Abbott from the chains, handcuffs and straightjacket they painstakingly donned last year before hurling themselves overboard in front of a hostile and disbelieving audience.

Through a combination of contortion, illusion and downright denial, it is designed to free the Coalition from the odium that flowed from the most unpopular budget in at least a a generation - and it might just work. [Read More...]

12 May 2015

Empty office black hole dogs the Public Service

The great unknown: How many empty work spaces does the Australian Public Service have across the country?

The Commonwealth says it does not know how much empty office space it is paying for, as a review is ordered of the tens of thousands of empty public service desks around Australia.

The last reliable figures, produced five years ago, revealed no "signs of life" at nearly 29,000 desks in government buildings across the nation.

The Finance Department says it cannot say how much empty real estate is being billed to taxpayers each year despite departmental bosses claiming to the Parliament recently that they had the figures at their fingertips.[Read More...]

12 May 2015

Abbott government spends $100,000 on travel to lobby against UNESCO reef listing

A Senate estimates hearing has been told the Abbott government has spent $100,000 to lobby against UNESCO listing the Great Barrier Reef as in danger.

The Abbott government has spent $100,000 on travel costs to send environment department officials to lobby other countries not to list the Great Barrier Reef as in danger.
The figure was revealed in a Senate estimates hearing on Monday after questions from the Greens.

The government has mounted a massive international effort to avoid UNESCO's world heritage committee listing the reef as officially in danger next month.[Read More...]

11 May 2015
by Peter Munro

Welcome to the Age of Tedium

Emergencies are a fickle force in politics. When interest rates slumped to 2.5 per cent under Labor, Joe Hockey skittered about like Chicken Little, squawking that the "struggling economy" had tipped "beyond emergency levels". Now that we're officially in the back-of-beyond, the treasurer's cock-a-hoop.

"Everything we are doing is going according to plan" - apparently. That should console the 770,000 unemployed, self-funded retirees and the slumping mining sector. Never mind that the budget deficit is projected to hit $45.9 billion in 2014-15. Don't fret about China's weakening economy and falling commodity prices. "It's all part of the plan."[Read More...]

11 May 2015
by Craig Murray

U.K Puppetmasters at work again for Labour

Umunna - Born Sneering! Is This The Man?

Labour Urgently Needs Gallery Vernissages

State propaganda and corporate media are wasting no time in promoting their candidate for leader of the pretend opposition: Chuka Umunna. He ticks absolutely all the right boxes. Private school educated, son of a High Court judge (which did not hold back his career to become a multi-millionaire lawyer) and entirely London based. Umunna has only ever moved out of the M25 on an aeroplane.[Read More...]

11 May 2015
by Matt Wade

Family income of $185,000 a year 'not especially high': PM

Those earning $185,000 a year are in the top 6 per cent of all family incomes.

"Certainly it's not going to give you a particularly lavish life by any means,"

he said while defending a key income threshold in the government's new childcare policy.

Really, Mr Abbott? $185k not 'especially high'?
So where exactly does a family earning $185,000 a year sit on Australia's income distribution? The short answer: very high[Read More...]

10 May 2015
by Bob Ellis

The Liberals (cont...)

Maurice Newman, a Liberal voter, called global warming ‘a world-wide UN-led conspiracy to embarrass our dear leader Tony Abbott, peace be unto him’, and called for a jihad against these ‘false prophets’ and their hanging, drawing and quartering in ‘public places in the appropriate cities’ lest ‘capitalism die and authoritarian Castroism engulf the planet by December, 2016.’

The University of Western Australia gave back three million intended for Pyne’s pet maddie Lomborg whom he would find, the Minister swore, ‘a university sufficiently pauperised by my previous cuts to accept him.’[Read More...]

10 May 2015
by John Kelly

Hapless Hockey’s Hyperbole

Watching Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey the other night on television sitting together in one of their offices pretending to look over their latest brainchild, the 2015 budget, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed.

To see our two most senior government members, one so stern faced, trying to look so accomplished, the other like he didn’t have a clue, parading in front of a compliant media, was near laughable.[Read More...]

10 May 2015
by Eamonn Duff

Undercoverman Man Slams AFP Drug Sting

Before the Bali nine's arrest, Mick Keelty and the AFP sent a furniture salesman on a secret high-risk drug sting in Indonesia

International drug dealers approached furniture importer 'John Mansfield' about using his containers to smuggle millions of dollars worth of ephedrine into Australia.

A furniture importer has revealed how the Australian Federal Police abandoned him in Indonesia after convincing him to go undercover in a high-risk sting targeting an international drug-smuggling syndicate.[Read More...]

09 May 2015
by Mike Seccombe

The hashtag crusaders

Since she first set out on a course of social activism well over four decades ago, Helen Caldicott’s dedication to the anti-nuclear cause has taken her to some unusual places.

Perhaps no twist in her journey, though, was more unexpected than the one that took her in early 1982 to United States president Ronald Reagan’s White House via the Playboy Mansion, the Los Angeles pleasure palace of Hugh Hefner.[Read More...]

09 May 2015

Macquarie chief Nicholas Moore's pay soars to $16.5m

Nicholas Moore has emerged as the nation's second-highest paid CEO.

Nicholas Moore has emerged as the nation's second-highest paid CEO. Photo: Louise Kennerley Macquarie Group chief executive Nicholas Moore makes more in 12 minutes than the average worker in Australia earns in a full working week.

The banking boss saw his pay for the 12 months to March jump 26 per cent to $16.5 million as Macquarie's earnings climbed, making him the nation's second-highest paid chief executive of a listed company.[Read More...]

09 May 2015

Climate change is UN-led hoax to create 'new world order' – Australian PM's adviser

Maurice Newman, the Australian PM's business adviser

The Australian prime minister's chief business adviser says that climate change is a ruse led by the United Nations to create a new world order under the agency's control. The statement coincided with a visit from the UN's top climate negotiator.

Maurice Newman, chairman of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's business advisory council, said the UN is using false models which show sustained temperature increases because it wants to end democracy and impose authoritarian rule.[Read More...]

08 May 2015
by Peter Brent

Greens Being Greens

Newly elected Greens leader Richard Di Natale and former leader Christine Milne leave a news conference at Parliament House after Senator Milne’s resignation yesterday.

Despite the policy differences, the Greens have important things in common with the major parties.

At his first press conference as leader of the Australian Greens, Richard Di Natale hinted that perhaps the party would be more centrist in future. If that means a Senate that is in any way more cooperative then that’s good news for the Abbott government. The Coalition plus the Greens form a comfortable majority in the chamber.[Read More...]

08 May 2015
By Peter Wicks

Dogma – The attack on womens rights continues unabated

Fred Nile wants women to view an ultrasound of her live foetus before having an abortion, and then hold the dead foetus for three minutes post abortion.

Fred “I don’t want to hear about common decency” Nile

Fred Nile, the crazy so-called Christian with the balance of power in the NSW upper house would like us all to go back a century or two.

As reported in The Guardian, Nile has his agenda laid out for himself, and firmly in his sights is the women’s right to choose.[Read More...]

08 May 2015

Federal budget 2015:

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison announces changes to the pension

More than 90,000 Australians will no longer qualify for the pension and an extra 235,000 will have their payments cut under changes to save the government $2.4 billion in next week's federal budget.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said that under the changes to be introduced in January 2017, more than 170,000 pensioners with modest assets will have their pensions increased by an average of $30 per fortnight. And tax incentives for self-funded retirees would be retained.[Read More...]

07 May 2015
by Valerie Yule

The death specialist

We do not like the idea of doctors with their Hippocratic oath and ideals to save life, being given the powers to help people to die. Yet many of us as we near the end of our life wish to avoid the extreme pains and troubles - and expenses - of a lingering dying.

It would be possible to have ‘death’ specialists to whom we could be referred. These specialists would know all about palliative care and also about ways to die easily. They could counsel people referred to them, and know when to help them to survive, and when to offer them the means of serene death.[Read More...]

07 May 2015

Abbott still dangerous every day he hangs on

The Liberal victory in the NSW election was a reprieve for Abbott after Liberal defeats in Victoria and Queensland. But it was hardly a ringing endorsement for him. His major contribution to the campaign was keeping his mouth shut for a few weeks.

Abbott knows that if his next budget in May does not revive his electoral fortunes, the knives will soon be out again. He is desperately searching for a populist hook to turn around the polls, talking of an “ice epidemic” and cracking down on welfare benefits for parents against vaccinations. None of it is working; a whopping 60 per cent of voters disapproved of Abbott as PM in an April poll.[Read More...]

07 May 2015
by Sean Stinson

Democracy: Coming soon to a parliament near you.

At the recent Queensland election, responding to Campbell Newman’s threat that a hung parliament is a hung Queensland, Bob Katter made the astute observation that a hung parliament would more likely result in a minority government, a situation similar to almost every other constitutional democracy in the world. Now personally I’ve always thought Katter a bit of a nutter, in the nicest possible way of course, but in this instance I believe he hit the nail squarely and firmly on the head.[Read More...]

07 May 2015
by Dr Craig Johnston

Editor's Note:
Because we are on the eve of a UK general election, and because Australia is inextricably linked to Westminster, bigwallbling.com feels it prudent that a comment on that election and its possible outcomes that will undoubtably affect us in Australia, should be published. The following article by Dr. Craig Johnston is a wonderful expose on that topic.

After the referendum: How Scotland is shaping the British General Election

With his swingeing austerity programme attacking the living standards of the underprivileged, British PM David Cameron has struggled to overcome his upper-class roots, especially north of the border in Scotland.
The imminent UK election is one of the most unpredictable in history — however one thing is for sure, the Scottish Nationalists will be decisive to the result and emerge stronger in the aftermath.

On Thursday, 7 May 2015, the UK goes to the polls. David Cameron’s Conservative Party is attempting to win an outright majority after governing in coalition with the Liberal Democrats for the last five years. Labour, under Ed Miliband, is hoping to return to government after just one term in opposition. The Lib Dems are hoping just to survive. And, six months after the independence referendum was defeated, Scotland is once again to the forefront of British politics.[Read More...]

06 May 2015

PM doles out cash to WA

Federal government coughs up cash after premier’s COAG dummy spit on GST.

The Federal Government will give Western Australian an extra $499 million in funding for road projects to make up for the large fall in the state’s share of GST revenue.

The cash injection comes after last month’s fiery Council of Australian Governments meeting, where WA Premier Colin Barnett said the state was being crippled by falling iron ore prices.[Read More...]

06 May 2015
by Bob Ellis

The Liberals (cont...) Today

It was revealed that Abbott refused to be greeted by the gay partner of the Australian ambassador in Paris, after dining with him and threatening to ‘knuckle’ him in a screeching-match that followed three fine bottles of Veuve Clicquot at Yarralumla. This confrontation bestirred the mellifluous contempt of the entire French nation, many of whom supported gay marriage and disliked Aussie barbarians chundering prawns in the Louvre. It was thought they would raise, in revenge, the price of cheese.[Read More...]

06 May 2015
by Tim Clobatch

Victoria: Austerity ends, but where’s the vision?

Victoria’s Labor treasurer might have echoed Tolstoy in his budget speech, but the fine print doesn’t rise to the challenges facing the state

Victoria’s treasurer Tim Pallas has the kind of figure his friends might describe as soft and cuddly. His first budget, delivered on Tuesday, is sort of similar. Pallas calls it a budget “for families.” It relaxes the extreme constraints the previous Coalition government placed on spending on schools, hospitals and other services. But it is not a budget for tough times. And it does not try to tackle the huge infrastructure backlog that is making Melbourne choke on its traffic.[Read More...]

06 May 2015
by John Kelly

Abbott and Hockey Running Scared

A week or so out from Joe Hockey’s second attempt at bringing down a national budget, what are we hearing? Not much. It will be dull and routine, boring, the job of fiscal repair is half done and so on. What rubbish. Behind all the upfront rhetoric we are hearing, the calming assurances and so on, both the PM and the Treasurer are running scared.

The overwhelming rejection of the 2014 budget, one that was so poorly crafted, has left our fearful duo so concerned they are keeping their twin mouths shut for fear this next one is sunk before its maiden voyage.[Read More...]

06 May 2015
by Peter Hartcher

Ambassador to France offers resignation after 'bizarre' Abbott airport incident

Australia's ambassador to France, Stephen Brady, pictured during his time as official secretary to the governor-general.

Australia's ambassador to France offered his resignation after an incident while greeting Tony Abbott as he arrived in Paris on Anzac Day.
According to multiple sources, the ambassador, Stephen Brady, was on the airport tarmac with his partner of 32 years, Peter Stephens, waiting to meet the incoming plane around 7pm Paris time.[Read More...]

06 May 2015
by Tess Lawrence

Australian Federal Police: Drug mule out of control

The AFP's refusal to apologise to the Chan and Sukumaran families says much about their lack of humanity, but even more about their resolve to suppress the truth, writes contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence.

AFP Press Conference An Exercise In Futility
Yesterday's futile attempt by the Australian Federal Police to bleach its hands of the congealed blood of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran provided disturbing evidence that it is out of control and in need of competent leadership.[Read More...]

05 May 2015
by Anica Niepraschk

Australia's call for volunteers to host a radioactive waste facility

Over the coming weeks and months we will find out whether the Federal Government's new approach to finding a radioactive waste storage and disposal site will be more successful than past efforts.

Australia does not produce any high-level radioactive waste. It does however produce moderate amounts of low-level waste that could be disposed of in a shallow repository to be monitored for several hundred years, and long-lived intermediate-level waste that will need to be carefully managed for some thousands of years.[Read More...]

05 May 2015
by Mark Pearce

How many journos does it take to run the News Corp Indigenous smear machine

Herald Sun, pages 4 and 5, 2/5/15

How three experienced Herald Sun reporters used deception and trickery to distort the critical closure of remote Aboriginal communities issue into a propaganda piece about ‘commuter chaos’.
ON SATURDAY 2 May 2015, an insert article on page 5 appeared in a Herald Sun double page spread, connected with front-page headlines concerning a protest rally against the closures of remote Aboriginal communities that shutdown Melbourne’s CBD.
In the age of media restructures and budget cuts, apparently it takes not one, not two, but three journalists to undertake the reporting and writing of a two-hour event.[Read More...]

05 May 2015
by Martin Armstrong

Australia First To Introduce A Compulsory Tax On Money Itself

The reason I moved the Solution Conference forward was due to the fact that all my sources behind the curtain were screaming from the four corners of the world that the new age of Economic Totalitarianism is upon us all. Australia will be the first to introduce a compulsory tax on savings. This is the ultimate Marxist state for now anyone with spare cash is the enemy of the Conservative Tony Abbott government. What I laid out at the Solution Conference is the ONLY way out of this nightmare. It is time for people to start spreading the word and get behind changing the game plan while we still have a game in play. We have to stop this confiscation of all wealth and the continual borrowing and taxation. This will lead to the total destruction of Western culture for we are plagued by power hungry insane politicians who cannot see past their nose.[Read More...]

04 May 2015
by Tim Colebatch

Victorian Labor tries to build without borrowing

This week’s Victorian budget will pass up the opportunity to borrow at historically cheap rates to fund essential infrastructure.

Victoria’s new Labor government went into last year’s state election with two transport policies. One, dubbed Project 10,000, set out an ambitious list of roads and rail infrastructure it would build, headlined by a new Melbourne Metro underground railway line and a pledge to remove fifty of Melbourne’s worst level crossings. The other was to create a new body, Infrastructure Victoria, which would prepare and publish independent cost–benefit analyses of infrastructure proposals to ensure Victorians got no more duds.[Read More...]

04 May 2015

AFP breaks silence on Bali Nine

AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin at a media conference today.

CANBERRA | The nation’s top cop cannot guarantee Australians never again will be executed for drug offences based on information police pass onto authorities in other countries.

But Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin regrets that Indonesia went ahead with the “unnecessary” executions of Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

“It was tragic what happened last week,” he told reporters during an hour-long media conference in Canberra on Monday, breaking the AFP’s long silence on the matter.[Read More...]

04 May 2015
by Nick Beams

Where is the TPP taking us?

US “Grand Strategy” For War Against China Laid Out

The advanced stage of discussions in US foreign policy circles over the pursuit of an ever-more aggressive policy toward China has been revealed by the recent release of a chilling report under the auspices of the influential Council on Foreign Relations. Entitled “Revising US Grand Strategy Toward China,” the report is nothing less than an agenda for war. It is authored by Robert D. Blackwill and Ashley J. Tellis, both of whom have close connections to the US State Department and various American foreign policy think tanks.[Read More...]

04 May 2015
by Bob Ellis

The Liberals (cont...) Today

Phillip Ruddock, a Liberal voter, said he was against capital punishment anywhere in the world, but made no mention of Zhu Qingping, whose male child he had helped judicially murder when he sent her back to an enforced abortion in her ninth month in China though she begged him, Ruddock, in tears to be allowed to ‘have him here, and go home without him’. He did this amid worldwide revulsion in 1999; ‘another millennium,’ he beamed, serenely, ‘a long, long time ago.’ He had since had a change of heart, he boasted, and was against judicial murder now, though not of full-grown babies, which was a ‘human right’.[Read More...]

04 May 2015
by John Passant

Shut down their communities, not ours

It does seem pretty simple to me. You shut down our communities we’ll shut down yours.

Now, I am not Aboriginal but I stand in soldiarity with Aboriginal people as they lead the campaign against the closure of up to 150 remote communities in Western Australia. These communities are our communities.[Read More...]

04 May 2015

The Propaganda Machine

In recent weeks there has been much commentary about the formation of Bjorn Lomborg’s “Consensus Centre” within the halls of the University of Western Australia. We have been aggrieved at the profligate use of taxpayer funds during a “budget crisis”. We are offended, but hardly surprised, at the disbanding of the independent Climate Council, saving $1.5m at the cost of losing internationally-recognised expert climate change opinion, followed by a $4m grant to the Consensus Centre, whose methodology and outcomes are universally panned. We have been repeatedly shamed by our government in its statements and actions on the world stage in relation to climate change, and this latest move is simply the most recent in a long list.[Read More...]

03 May 2015

Shoppies union pay Coles and Woolworths millions to boost membership

National SDA president Joe de Bruyn insists that they agreed "absolutely" with the union leadership on same sex marriage.

Australia's biggest private-sector union pays major employers including Coles and Woolworths up to $5 million a year in commissions that help maintain its large membership, and influence in the Labor Party.[Read More...]

03 May 2015

Australian first: UniSA lecturer Martin Freney’s futuristic Earthship home at Ironbank

Martin Freney has built Australia's first earthship house, a home built from recycled tyres, cans and bottles on his Ironbank property.

Welcome to Martin Freney’s new home. It’s built from earth-filled tyres, bottles and straw barrels, uses solar power, rainwater and recycled sewage and just might be the future of Australian housing.
The University of South Australia lecturer is adding the finishing touches to his fully sustainable “Earthship” home, the first of its kind in Australia.[Read More...]

03 May 2015

Senator Nick Xenophon picking team to stand in Lower House seats at federal election

Nick Xenophon expects to reveal candidates within weeks.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon is in talks with potential candidates and preparing a party platform as he starts acting upon a threat to target federal Liberals over the future of building submarines in South Australia.
Senator Xenophon, whose group won 24.88 per cent of the Upper House vote at the 2013 federal election, told the Sunday Mail he expects to reveal candidates within weeks.[Read More...]

03 May 2015
by Bob Ellis

Abbott tells Australians to get over Sukumaran and Chan

Tony Abbott and his leadership team say we must reconcile with Indonesia and put the shooting of Chan and Sukumaran behind us. In this, he has badly misjudged the Australian people.

BISHOP, ABBOTT AND TRUSS have all said this week that we must, soon, reconcile with Indonesia, and put the illegal shooting of two reformed Australian heroes behind us.

A week is a long time in politics, and we shouldn’t make a fuss any longer. There are bigger things at stake. The cattle trade. The asylum seekers. Many Australians’ habit of going to Bali on holidays.[Read More...]

02 May 2015

Editor's Note
I hope you like the new site layout. It is much more flexible, and can be viewed on any size device. To all the ex-pat readers, please share the site and stories more often. It is now easier than ever to do so.
There are more enhancements to come in the next few days.
Regards Mike.B

02 May 2015
by Mike Seccombe

Negative gearing's social carnage on low-income earners

How tax breaks for investment properties have created a housing affordability crisis while lining the pockets of those least in need.

David is just the sort of motivated, self-reliant bloke that our political leaders like to laud.
He had his own business for 30 years as a freelance graphic designer in Melbourne. He’d never been on welfare. He was a lifter not a leaner, to borrow the tendentious slogan of the Abbott government.
Then his marriage broke up. He left for country Victoria, bought some land, planned to build a new house and a new life. He remarried and had a new family.[Read More...]

02 May 2015
by Paul Bongiorno

Post-Bali Nine executions, Tony Abbott still has axiom to grind

Every now and then something happens that is so horrible everything else for the moment seems unimportant. That was certainly the way Australia’s political leaders across the board dealt with the cruel state killing of two compatriots in Indonesia. It was one of those events governments are not responsible for but have no choice but to confront.[Read More...]

01 May 2015
by Ruth Spielman

The people infrastructure equation

How might we be living in 40 years time ? The Government's Intergenerational Report (IGR) tells us there will be a lot more people. What it doesn't tell us, of the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA), is how the infrastructure to support more people will be provided; the roads, the public transport, the health and the education facilities. Without them road congestion will worsen, it will be harder to get to work and our health and well being will decline.[Read More...]

01 May 2015
By Alex Sanchez and Michael Potter

A federation fit for purpose

Significant debate is ongoing about collecting the GST and distributing it to the States. The West Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, was apparently ‘furious’ over the GST split provided to WA, with the state getting less than 30 cents in the dollar of GST revenue. The other states retorted that Western Australia signed up to the current system, and should therefore live with the consequences. And the commonwealth, like a parent turning away as the kids squabble, utters that it’s the responsibility of the states themselves to agree. Meanwhile, the federal government is proposing to apply GST to online services such as Netflix and clamp down on GST avoidance through the cash economy, and others are contemplating an increase in the GST rate.[Read More...]

01 May 2015
by Kaye Lee

The sequel to the Little Book of Big Labor Waste

When Jamie Briggs penned The Little Book of Big Labor Waste in the lead up to the last election he really nailed Julia Gillard for her sinful waste.

He drew our attention to the fact that “the proceeds of the carbon tax are being used to pay for expensive dinners” when “a dozen climate change bureaucrats left taxpayers with a $1,700 dinner bill after a night out at a posh Italian restaurant in Melbourne.”[Read More...]

01 May 2015
by Peter Boyer

Greg Hunt says ERF “stunning” success...really?

Remember Tony Abbott’s 2013 line about carbon trading — “a so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one”? Well, last week he put $660 million into exactly that. Peter Boyer analyses the Emissions Reduction Fund and asks some critical questions.

Hunt’s new Carbon Tax – the Emissions Reduction Fund
He won’t ever admit it, but his government’s Emissions Reduction Fund is a market for greenhouse gas emissions and now it has its very own carbon price. Whether it will work is yet to be determined.[Read More...]

01 May 2015

Over 4000 Tax Office workers vote to strike

The ATO says plans by workers to strike ahead of the close of financial year won't affect services to the community.

Over 4000 Tax Office workers have voted to strike over pay and conditions just weeks before millions of Australians are due to start filing their annual tax returns.[Read More...]