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January 2016

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31 January 2016
by Paul Bongiorno

Tony Abbott leading the conservative fight from the backbench

No matter what oppositions think, elections are all about governments. When incumbents run out of puff or present as a disunited circus more focused on themselves than the nation’s welfare, they get the shove. Just ask John Howard, or Kevin Rudd.

When parliament resumes next week, appearances will be that Malcolm Turnbull and his government are riding high. But appearances can be deceptive and short-lived. The biggest threat to the Coalition’s success in the election due this year isn’t the Labor opposition: it is the internal dynamics of the Coalition itself. [Read More...]

30 January 2016
by David Wroe

Kevin Andrews angers party whip with 'prayer breakfast' reason for Washington visit

Kevin Andrews will attend a prayer breakfast, but will also address a right-wing think-tank while away from Parliament.

Former Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has infuriated his party's chief whip by requesting an absence from Parliament to attend a Washington "prayer breakfast" only then to use the time to deliver a speech to a major conservative think-tank.

Mr Andrews will miss the first sitting week of Parliament starting Monday to give a national security address to the Heritage Foundation, one of Washington's most influential conservative policy institutes. [Read More...]

30 January 2016
by Lucille Keen

Corruption threat stalls Melbourne port sale

Victoria's sale of the Port of Melbourne has hit another stumbling block with the Opposition now claiming that the political negotiations over the sale could be deemed to be corrupt under new anti-corruption legislation.

The Opposition says new powers to be granted to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission could make negotiations over government bills the subject of a malicious complaint in the future. [Read More...]

29 January 2016
by Syd Hickman

Does the ALP have a future?

Only two good things have happened to the ALP in the last twenty years; Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. Both fizzled. Could another saviour appear?

Rudd was one of Australia's best actors. His sustained performance as a nice smiley guy amazed people who knew him and should have won a gold logie. He singlehandedly dragged the Party back into government, but then he had to actually govern and even Cate Blanchett couldn't help with that. [Read More...]

29 January 2016
by Lachlan Barker

Queensland's collapsing LNG industry

Santos Qld LNG plant

The oil price war is inflicting further damage on Queensland's collapsing LNG industry.

It's reporting season for the resources companies with a range of fourth quarter reports being published.

It’s a sea of bad news for the coal and gas sectors, and sphere of the resources area that is in a world of trouble is Queensland’s CSG-to-LNG projects.

The price of LNG is linked to that of oil for various historical reasons, and as is generally well known, the oil price has crashed big time. [Read More...]

29 January 2016
by Phillip Coorey

Labor's big spending versus Coalition's tax overhaul

The federal election has begun as a race between big-spending social policy and a tax overhaul, after federal Labor put education on the agenda with a promise of an extra $4.5 billion for schools by the end of the decade.

As cabinet met to discuss increasing the GST to 15 per cent to fund income tax cuts, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would honour fully the Gonski school-funding package it implemented when last in office. [Read More...]

27 January 2016
by John Kelly

We are Governed by Idiots.

After several interest rate reductions over the past two years, a tool used by the Reserve Bank to stimulate activity, not much has happened. Business has not been prompted to invest and consumer spending is flat. So one might well ask, what’s going on behind the scenes?

One would think that with interest rates so low, both businesses and consumers would take advantage of the moment and expand. But a couple of other factors not broadly explained, give us a clue as to why this isn’t happening. [Read More...]

27 January 2016
by John Pilger

Australia's day for secrets, flags and cowards

On 26 January, one of the saddest days in human history will be celebrated in Australia. It will be "a day for families", say the newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Flags will be dispensed at street corners and displayed on funny hats. People will say incessantly how proud they are.

For many, there is relief and gratitude. In my lifetime, non-Indigenous Australia has changed from an Anglo-Irish society to one of the most ethnically diverse on earth. Those we used to call "New Australians" often choose 26 January, "Australia Day", to be sworn in as citizens. The ceremonies can be touching. Watch the faces from the Middle East and understand why they clench their new flag. [Read More...]

27 January 2016
by Paul Smith

Aussie start-up Unlockd signs on with Sprint, Twitter and Yahoo in global push

Unlockd CEO and co-founder Matt Berriman has relocated to New York to drive its global expansion.

Lachlan Murdoch-backed Australian telecommunications and advertising technology start-up Unlockd has expanded into the US, signing a potentially lucrative deal with one of the country's largest mobile providers Sprint Telecom, including advertising partnerships with Twitter and Yahoo.

The deal will make Unlockd's mobile platform initially available to more than 9 million US customers of Sprint's Boost Mobile brand, as it tries to establish a new business model, where customers can reduce or even remove their mobile bills by watching ads. [Read More...]

26 January 2016
by Alan Austin

Does Scott Morrison really have a clue?

Alan Austin analyses the Turnbull Government's economic performance since Scott Morrison took over the reins as Treasurer and concludes that rather than improving, things really are "spiralling out of control".

Hopes by business, workers, the welfare sector and others that Scott Morrison might rescue Australia’s tanking economy appear to have been dashed.

It is now more than four months since Morrison replaced the hapless Joe Hockey as Treasurer. Things are now worse than ever. [Read More...]

26 January 2016

Australia Day Holiday

25 January 2016
by Joanna Mather

Google could owe Australia millions, Nick Xenophon says

Google could owe Australia hundreds of millions in unpaid tax, independent senator Nick Xenophon said, seizing on revelations that the search engine giant has agreed to pay AU$185 million in the UK.

Google is one of the global companies criticised for using complex tax minimisation schemes such as the "double Irish" and "Dutch sandwich". [Read More...]

25 January 2016
by Primrose Riordan

Tony Abbott to recontest his seat of Warringah

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ended speculation over his future, posting a statement saying he will recontest his seat in the 2016 federal election.

After he was brutally rolled in the September leadership coup that installed Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Abbott has simply said he would take the summer holidays to consult with family and confidants over whether to stay on. [Read More...]

25 January 2016
by RT

Confined, isolated, killed: Primates used for secret ‘Frankenstein-like’ studies in Sydney

Hundreds of monkeys have been sent to Australia for what seem to be dubious medical experiments that raise “serious ethical questions,” the local environmental authorities have warned.

More than 370 primates have been part of the research over the past 15 years, and the scientists who conduct the tests are most probably “entirely lacking” in expertise essential to care for such animals, Australia’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has said. [Read More...]

22 January 2016
by David Stephens

Minister defends Abbott's wasteful war museum boondoggle

The proposed Sir John Monash Centre addition at Villers-Bretonneux in France by Cox Architecture.

After copping criticism about the $100 million war museum in France (including from the prime minister's own son-in-law), the Turnbull government is blaming everyone but itself for proceeding with another of Abbott's wasteful Captain's Picks.

ANZAC CENTENARY minister, Stuart Robert, has wielded what is probably his first official silver spade in turning the first sod of the whizzo Monash museum (Interpretive Centre) to be constructed at Villers-Bretonneux in time for a slap-up opening ceremony on Anzac Day 2018. [Read More...]

22 January 2016
by Gabriela Motroc

Consumer advocate: ASIC should be stripped of its consumer protection role

Consumer advocate Denise Brailey told the ABC in an interview in September 2014 that the Australian Securities & Investments Commission “has done such an abysmal job that a royal commission into the whole sector is definitely, urgently required.” Brailey recommended that all consumer protection be “taken out of the hands of ASIC.”

Although ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft said in early 2015 that his organisation is under-funded and claimed that penalties for corporate crime are light as a feather, some people perceive this situation as a natural reaction to the watchdog’s incompetency throughout the years. Mr Medcraft concluded that the silver lining of the financial system inquiry was that Australians want ASIC to be more proactive and to intervene more. [Read More...]

20 January 2016
by Joanne McCarthy

Mystery of $600,000 found in The Star casino safety deposit box

Police found more than $600,000 in a casino safety deposit box.

It is the money laundering story that has everything - a casino gambler, a pile of cash, a fake "uncle", and a quick trip to Newcastle to see a woman about a brothel. [Read More...]

20 January 2016
by Ewin Hanann

Waterfront workers want $1000 for Sunday shifts

Waterfront workers are seeking $1000 for working a single eight-hour shift on a Sunday under a union claim being resisted by stevedore Patrick.

The company said on Tuesday that it would consider seeking the intervention of the Turnbull government if its dispute with the Maritime Union of Australia escalated beyond further strikes scheduled for next week. [Read More...]

19 January 2016
by ANR

Woolworths to close down Masters Hardware

Woolworths has decided to pull the plug on its Masters experiment and will seek a sale or closure of its home improvement business, which includes Masters and Home Timber & Hardware.

Woolworths said in a statement on Monday it was ready to sell or wind up Masters after heavy losses. The decision puts at risk over 7000 jobs across the chain’s network of stores –Masters has 63 stores in Australia. [Read More...]

19 January 2016
by Alan Austin

The ABC plunges to a new low

Andrew Bolt by Tony Sowersby

The ABC’s decision to produce a TV show with right wing columnist Andrew Bolt will do more harm than good.
What is the ABC thinking?

Yes, we know it is under enormous political pressure to be like Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp but surely the national broadcaster must make some show of honouring its charter.

In an apparent attempt to rehabilitate the tattered reputation of right wing columnist Andrew Bolt after humiliations in court and public bruisings, the ABC has asked him to participate in a documentary on Indigenous constitutional recognition.

This follows several recent developments indicating that the ABC has abandoned political impartiality in favour of support for Coalition causes. But this is a new low. [Read More...]

18 January 2016
by Michael J. Green

Mr. Turnbull Goes to Washington: A US Perspective

Today, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull makes his first official visit to Washington, D.C.

The two countries’ interests, values and perspectives are largely aligned, and support for the Australia-U.S. alliance is strong and bipartisan in each. Australia and the United States are as one on the importance of defeating ISIL, and Australia is one of the largest military contributors to the U.S.-led international coalition. They agree on the importance of an open Asia-Pacific economy reenergized by the Trans-Pacific Partnership, on freedom of navigation and on the need to maintain stability and economic development in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Australia and the United States work closely together to combat terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and transnational crime, supported by intense intelligence cooperation. They have cooperated to build inclusive regional institutions, such as APEC and the East Asia Summit. [Read More...]

18 January 2016
by AFR

Iran deal welcome but bad for LNG

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected in 2013 pledging to end the sanctions that were crippling the nation's economy.

The re-emergence of Iran into the global economy on Saturday with the lifting of crippling international sanctions that were in place for years is a welcome step forward in an area where the news is often grim – as emphasised during the surprise visit of Malcolm Turnbull to troops in neighbouring Iraq. [Read More...]

18 January 2016
by Greg Earl

Andrew Robb says Blackmores Bega venture is a role model for Australia

Barry Irvin, left, Li Na, Andrew Robb, and Christina Holgate at the Blackmores/Bega infant formula product launch.

Trade minister Andrew Robb has hailed the partnership between Blackmores and Bega Cheese to produce infant formula as the new role model for Australian companies looking for pathways into Asian business after the resources boom. [Read More...]

18 January 2016
by Julia Medew

Thousands of older people exploring 'rational suicide': Nitschke

Pat and Peter Shaw took their own lives together in their home when they were both aged 87.

Thousands of older people are investigating peaceful methods to end their own lives because they want to control the nature and timing of their death, says controversial euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke.

The former doctor said there was a developing trend of baby boomers and people over 70 wanting to avoid "end of life medical nightmares" in which they are seriously ill and or feel trapped in a hospital or nursing home where it can be difficult to take your own life. [Read More...]

18 January 2016
by Neil Chenoweth

Top foreign banks had $9b revenue but no taxable income

Nearly a third of the 26 large foreign banks operating in Australia, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Lloyds and BNP Paribas, had no taxable income in 2014, data released by the Australian Taxation Office shows.

Eight banks with total revenue of $9 billion had no taxable income, while Credit Suisse, which had a taxable income of $397,000 on revenue of $707 million, also paid zero tax. [Read More...]

17 January 2016
by Mike.B

A list of Currently Registered Australian Political Parties

For all the ex-pats, or people who may be away from Australia, or those who may wish to research their next party vote, here is a list of currently registered federal political parties.

Some are undergoing name changes, or other bureaucratic formalities, but the list is essentially correct and is listed as weblinks, so you can check out their websites. [Read More...]

17 January 2016
by Kaye Lee

Wake up Australia, you are being conned

Conservative governments would have us judge every group in society by its worst members unless, of course, you belong to the political class or their corporate partners.

Muslims living in the Western world are facing suspicion and discrimination because of the action of a few militant fundamentalists. We are led to believe that people living in Middle Eastern and African countries are primitive savages who are constantly attacking and hurting one other, but this type of behaviour occurs to a certain degree in nearly every society. [Read More...]

17 January 2016
by John Kelly

Will this election be any different?

As things stand today, when it comes down to policy initiatives, we know far more about Labor policies than we do the Coalition. But how much is understood?

This year, as the federal election draws near, you can be sure the mainstream media (MSM) will waste much of their time on the trivial and ignore most of what’s really important.

We can confidently anticipate that policy initiatives will be skimmed over in favour of personalities, preferred foods, how one dresses, which candidate better articulates his position on the great Aussie meat pie, and so on. [Read More...]

16 January 2016
by John Passant

Fighting for justice for Essendon players

In Australia the commodification of sport and the big money involved in broadcasting it is a recent development. When Kerry Packer commercialised cricket he revolutionised other sports and their relations to broadcasters and the way the clubs came to see success. Winning the flag became not about individual and team excellence but about profit.

This has ramifications for club management and their relationship with the players. Given the difference in reward between winning the premiership and not, winning can become winning at all costs. As the Essendon case shows, this is translated into pushing the limits not only of physical excellence but also of the rules governing activity to improve performance. [Read More...]

16 January 2016
by Chris Graham


Bludgeon To Death An ‘Aborigine’: The Virtual Apple iPhone Game The Whole Family Can Play

Just when you think humanity couldn’t get anymore offensive… a newly released app on the Apple iTunes stores – rated for children aged 12 years and up – allows players to beat to death an ‘Aborigine’ during their quest to survive on the Australian continent. And a WARNING TO READERS: This story contains virtual imagery which may be extremely upsetting, in particular to Aboriginal people.

Called Survival Island 3 – Australia Story 3D – the app, by developer Kristina Fedenkova, was released last month, and retails for $4.49.

The theme of the game is to survive in Australia, by hunting and building a home. The developer explains, “Your goal is to survive. Beware of angry animals, especially if you don’t have any weapon. At nights, there is really dangerous, (sic) try to hide somewhere…. Hunt animals or grow plants – you have to eat something. You also have to fight with aboriginals (sic) – you invaded their home!” [Read More...]

12 January 2016
by Jake Niall

Essendon CAS verdict: Bombers players to miss season 2016

Jobe Watson and Essendon teammates at a press conference in October.

Current and former Essendon players have been found guilty of doping offences and will miss the entire 2016 season after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the World Anti-Doping Agency appeal.

In a stunning reversal of the AFL Tribunal decision that cleared the 34 current and former Essendon players last March, CAS was comfortably satisfied that the players had taken the banned substance thymosin beta-4 in 2012. [Read More...]

12 January 2016
by Greg Earl

TPP benefits only modest for Australia, World Bank finds

Australia will reap fewer benefits from the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal than most of the members, according to the first comprehensive research on the economic impact of the deal since it was agreed last October.

The findings on the main beneficiaries come as the prospects of the deal being implemented appear to have been improved significantly in the new year, with key US business groups endorsing it after earlier equivocation. [Read More...]

11 January 2016
by Jamie Freed

Start-up Airly aims to disrupt how you fly from Sydney to Melbourne

Airly co-founders, from left, Ivan Vysotskiy, Alexander Robinson and Luke Hampshire, hope to launch the private jet service in the second quarter.

Frequent travellers between Sydney and Melbourne face several frustrations: traffic to and from the airport, long security lines, regular ground delays and often the need to circle the congested air space before landing. It can turn what should be a one-hour flight into more than four hours door to door.

Enter the disruptors, Luke Hampshire, 28, and Alexander Robinson, 32. The young pair, both of whom have aviation experience, are looking to take a business model proven by the successful start-up Surf Air in California and transplant it to Australia, albeit with a few modifications. [Read More...]

11 January 2016
by Kaye Lee

People of calibre

In an attempt to show that politicians were sharing the pain of the 2014 Budget, Tony Abbott announced a freeze on politicians’ pay rises. Needless to say, that didn’t last long.

Federal politicians, judges and top bureaucrats received a 2 per cent pay rise from January 1 this year.

Malcolm Turnbull will pocket over $10,000 extra with an annual salary of $517,504 and the base salary of a parliamentary backbencher will rise to $199,040 a year. [Read More...]

11 January 2016
by Dr Benjamin Thomas Jones

Choosing a new Australian flag

What would happen if Australia followed New Zealand’s example and allowed a fully democratic process to choose a national flag? With support from the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University.

AT THE DAWN of the twentieth century, dozens of British colonies and dominions proudly waved flags with the iconic Union Jack in the top corner.
As the empire dissolved in the wake of World War II, a process of decolonisation took place and new flags were raised — flags that symbolised independence.

With New Zealand set to vote on a new flag in March 2016, Australia stands as one of the only nations to still cling to its colonial past. Like the republic, the issue of a new Australian flag will not go away until it is finally addressed. A flag is just a piece of cloth but it is infused with meaning. Australia deserves a flag that represents the vibrant, independent nation we are — not the loyal dominion we were. [Read More...]

11 January 2016
by Elizabeth Knight

Casino wars: Uneasy peace between James Packer's Crown and Star Entertainment

There is a new style of ammunition in the competitive war between Australia's casino giants, James Packer's Crown and the Sydney-based Star Entertainment. Farewell the public lambasting and covert whisper campaigns. Enter the new era competitive corporate diplomacy.

It was only two and a half years ago that the chairman of Australia's competition regulator Rod Sims was drawn into one of the most bitter corporate brawls in Australian corporate history – between Crown and Echo, since renamed The Star Entertainment Group. [Read More...]

09 January 2016
by Kaye Lee

Barnaby’s bill

In the first six months of 2015, federal politicians claimed almost $48 million in expenses with Barnaby Joyce topping the list claiming $1,073,991.45.

Mr Joyce did not travel overseas during this period. His biggest expense was $670,897.24 for Office Fit Outs. He had already been a minister for 15 months by this stage but it appears he must have decided on a Rolls Royce upgrade in keeping with his future ambition. One could hardly entertain Gina any old where. [Read More...]

09 January 2016
by F. William Engdahl

As the East Creates, the West Tries to Destroy

I’m feeling more and more in recent months that, as difficult as it may be to believe, our world is moving away from seemingly endless wars. Make no mistake, we haven’t seen the end of wars at all.

The dynamic and the war energy is changing, however. Not without a frenzy of self-conceit does the so-called Western World throw forks, china, pots, pans, rolling pins–anything it can get its bloody hands on–like a spoiled child throwing a gargantuan temper-tantrum. It tries to deny this reality over which it has less control by the second. The world is moving away from wars, from an, if-you-will, patriarchal psychosis of control–a matrix of fear, shame, guilt, rage, hate. What is beginning to emerge in what we in the West have egoistically termed the East, is construction, building new great projects to uplift a sector of mankind ignored for more that a thousand years. This transformative positive motion is what, if anything, will save our humankind from the mass death and destruction some in the West so devoutly wish for us. [Read More...]

09 January 2016
by Cara Waters

Musashi v A-Sashi: Nestle wins trademark battle against Aussie small business

The court found A-Sashi had infringed Musashi's trademark.

Small business owner James Christian has been forced to stop trading after losing a courtroom battle against Nestle over the use of the word "A-Sashi".

Christian started an online vitamin business in 2013 known as A-Sashi Vitamins for which he registered a business name, domain name and used logos incorporating the word A-Sashi.

But Nestle, as the owner of a range of trademarks for dietary supplements incorporating the word Musashi, sued Christian for trademark infringement. [Read More...]

08 January 2016
by Simone Marsh

Whistle-blower Simone Marsh's new exposé:
The corrupt birth of the Queensland gas industry

Whistleblower Simone Marsh (Image via ABC 'Inside Business')

Courageous whistle-blower, Simone Marsh, shines a further spotlight into the murky and corrupt relationship between the Queensland gas industry and the politicians who are supposed to serve the interests of the public.

Peter Garrett's recent memoir Big Blue Sky has offered further insight into the entry of the Queensland CSG-LNG export industry in 2010.

Garrett, who at that time was the federal environment minister, had responsibility for decisions under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC). Referring to the British Gas (QGC) and Santos CSG-LNG projects, Garrett states that one of his final decisions was actually a non-decision. [Read More...]

08 January 2016
by Perry Williams

James Packer's Studio City boosts Melco Crown's Macau share

James Packer's $4 billion gamble on growth returning to Macau's embattled casino sector has been rewarded with Studio City helping to boost its market share.

James Packer's $4 billion gamble on growth returning to Macau's embattled casino sector has paid its first dividends with Melco Crown Entertainment boosting its market share above 16 per cent from about 13 per cent in October following the opening of its Studio City resort.

Macau, the world's biggest gambling hub, has been hit in the last 18 months by a China government-led crackdown on corruption and the flow of illicit capital which has dramatically slowed gaming revenues from the city. [Read More...]

08 January 2016
by Lucille Keen

Ports to close as tug boat engineers plan strike action

Ports on Australia's east coast could be forced to shut down for 12 hours next week, after tug boat engineers voted to strike over a new enterprise agreement.

The strikes, planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, are expected to result in coal and fuel carriers, as well as bulk container ships, being stopped from entering the ports of Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne and Geelong. [Read More...]

08 January 2016
by Yolanda Redrup

General Motors unveils Aussie vehicle management app

Connexion Media CEO George Parthimos at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The world's first smart car subscription service that lets users track a vehicle's diagnostics from a smartphone in real-time has been developed by Melbourne-based tech company Connexion Media for General Motors.

Commercial Link, which operates via an internet-connected SIM card installed in GM's new vehicles and a website and app, was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday. [Read More...]

07 January 2016
by ANR

McIntyre slams ASIC

ASIC has been asleep at the wheel while Dick Smith loses $500 million of investors’ money. In the past, Storm Financial lost $3.5 billion of investors’ money because ASIC was too busy using taxpayers’ money to cause $6.8m in losses to innocent land banking investors.

Electronics retailer Dick Smith has gone into receivership after disappointing sales and banks’ refusal to keep it afloat following poor retail numbers. [Read More...]

07 January 2016
by Nicole Hasham

'You want me to touch that thing with my bare hands?': Calls for airport security overhaul

Security at Australia's airports is under the spotlight under a new inquiry.

A transgender airline passenger was forced to remove a genital prosthetic and present it for inspection in a "demeaning" encounter that adds to calls for an overhaul of unnecessary security at Australian airports.

An airline training captain has also questioned why items such as pocket knives and screwdrivers are barred from flights when everyday objects allowed on planes could easily be turned into weapons. He also called for mid-flight passenger visits to the cockpit to be reinstated. [Read More...]

07 January 2016
by Matthew Knott

'I'm ready to lead': Barnaby Joyce set to become deputy PM but not everyone's happy

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce inside his Parliament House office.

For years he has studied, planned, manoevered. Soon, his dream could be reality. Here, Barnaby Joyce tells Matthew Knott why he should be Australia's next deputy prime minister.
It was after midnight and leadership was on Barnaby Joyce's mind.

Last October, the deputy Nationals leader was in Parliament House drinking red wine with a veteran MP who has seen six prime ministers come and go. He wanted to know what makes a great leader.

There's no policy depth to him. I think he's a goose.
Tony Windsor

"What were Paul Keating's strengths and weaknesses?" Joyce asked his colleague. "What about John Howard?" [Read More...]

06 January 2016
by John Passant

Prime Minister Turnbull: If you really respect women, sack Dutton now

Peter Dutton is, to use his own words, more or less, a mad fucking wanker.

In supporting his political mate Jamie Briggs over Briggs’s sacking from the ministry for serious matters related to a public servant in Hong Kong, Dutton called News journalist Samantha Maiden a mad fucking witch. She had written an article that was somewhat less ‘Uncle Rupert’ supportive than normal of the Coalition and Briggs in particular.

The only trouble is Dutton sent the text message to Maiden rather than Briggs. Sheer genius. [Read More...]

06 January 2016
by ANR

Australian superfunds set for a half-year loss, report shows

Research prepared by SuperRatings shows that Aussie superannuation funds may experience a loss in the first half of the financial year.

The projected 0.5 per cent loss for the six months to December is fuelled by decreased commodity prices, low interest rates and the slowdown in China. Although the ASX is down almost four per cent for the year [3.92 per cent], some sectors have suffered greatly. Materials are down 19.9 per cent and energy 33.3 per cent –much of the drop has occurred since July, Business Insider reported. [Read More...]

06 January 2016
by Noel Wauchope

Five big nuclear issues for 2016 — and Australia's role in them

Nuclear issues got next to no discussion in Australia in 2015. That is sure to change in 2016 from five explosive factors.

#1: Nuclear weapons
It's not nice to talk about the threat of nuclear war. That's the bogey man that doesn't exist any more. Or does it?

Swinburne University's Marko Beljac recently outlined the risks of a 'nuclear war by miscalculation', due to the United States setting "red line" borders close to Russia and China, while all three powers escalate their production of modern nuclear weapons. Australia contributes to these increasing border tensions by joining the U.S. in stepping up up military surveillance flights over the South China Sea, in defiance of China.

William Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, in his new book My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, warns on the renewed danger in the new nuclear arms race. Australia has to be involved, with Pine Gap's important role in the United States ballistic missile defense system and in its space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. In the event of nuclear war, Pine Gap makes Australia both a participant and a target. [Read More...]

06 January 2016
by Lucy Cormack

New year rings in 41 per cent rise in GreenPower prices

Russell Mills with a selection of his Origin Energy electricity bills.

Why are green energy prices going up?
Consumers want answers after energy providers have announced a price increase of up to 41 per cent for their green energy contribution to coincide with the new year.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Origin Energy customers were notified that "a rise in the market price of renewable energy" meant GreenPower electricity charges would increase from 3.61¢ per kilowatt hour (excluding GST) to 5.10¢ per kilowatt hour from January 1, 2016. [Read More...]

06 January 2016
by Misa Han

'Pommiebasher' too offensive to be a business name

The business name "pommiebasher" cannot be registered because it may be offensive to some people if the word is taken out of the sporting rivalry context between Australia and England, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found.

A sports merchandise business tried to register the business name "pommiebasher" but the Australian Securities and Investments Commission had refused in 2013 because it considered the name to be offensive. [Read More...]

05 January 2016
by Ruth Liew

Amaysim buys Vaya in $70m deal

Amaysim chief executive Julian Ogrin says the Vaya business presented a great opportunity.

Australia's fourth biggest mobile phone provider, Amaysim, has bought telecommunications group Vaya for $70 million in a takeover that will support the company's goal of securing 1 million users by 2019.

Amaysim, which listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in July last year, bought the Brisbane-based mobile virtual network operator in a deal that it said will be "materially accretive" by fiscal 2017. [Read More...]

05 January 2016
by AFR

Building the next generation of aircraft engines

Everyone remembers the Wright brothers, who made the first powered, heavier-than-air flights by human beings on a beach in North Carolina in 1903. Few, by contrast, remember Charlie Taylor, a mechanic at the brothers' bicycle business in Dayton, Ohio. Yet it was Taylor who, by building an internal-combustion engine out of aluminium castings rather than iron ones, created a device both light enough and powerful enough to lift Orville and Wilbur into the sky. [Read More...]

05 January 2016
by Giles Parkinson

Ten big trends in solar, wind and storage to watch out for in 2016

It’s that time of year again. Time to consider what the big trends of the next 12 months might be. And for Australia, in the energy space, there is no prizes for guessing the big mover in 2016: battery storage.

This will not be the only thing of importance, however. There will be ambitious plans for decarbonisation pushed by states, regional and local governments. The push against wind and solar will become the new denialism, arguments will rage about consumer tariffs as networks seek to protect their revenues, and there will be new technologies in the market such as large scale solar and wave energy. And, of course, there will be an election. So here are our top 10 trends. [Read More...]

04 January 2016
by Lachlan Barker

Adani’s finances go from bad to worse

Federal and State Governments continue to approve it but the Adani Carmichael project will never eventuate unless an investor with "a financial death wish" can be found, writes Lachlan Barker.

In October 2015, the new Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, Josh Frydenberg, made a death knell pronouncement on Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, indicating that the rail line to the Galilee Basin to serve the mine:

"... wouldn’t be a priority project."

He added that Adani’s project was:

"... a commercial operation and it needs to stand on its own two feet." This makes it pretty clear that the federal government have, at last, recognised that this Adani coal mine has not a chance in hell of making a red cent and federal funding through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (named by opponents as the ”Dirty Energy Finance Corporation”) will not be provided.

Additionally, the banks have indicated that they will not touch this project and the one bank that Adani has constantly pointed to as a source of finance, the State Bank of India (SBI), has not actually said "yes" to the project. The SBI has simply received an application from Adani for financing. [Read More...]

04 January 2016
by John Haly


Christmas, one normally assumes is a time of goodwill and charity. We read and absorb selected stories because they are ones that remind us of our need to give to others. At this time charities take advantage of the spirit of goodwill of this time, to promote their work amongst the community, and gather the bounty of “grain into the barn” sufficient to last them through the dry seasons that follow this outpouring of generosity. People are also distracted with matters of family, consumerism, charity, religious observances, friends, barbecues, children, school year completions, holidays and – in areas that aren’t in the retail industry – a slowing down for office workers. Parliament closes down for the year, and so one assumes that political machinations take a break. It is also assumed, of course, that no one is listening to them at this time of the year. However what is recognized as a lull in proceedings (where everyone is preoccupied), it would appear that the LNP party has been surprisingly active. Those who have not taken their eye from the Liberal party’s agenda were surprised to discover activity in the making.

The liberal party’s ideals of charity and goodwill for Christmas appear to have taken a turn towards making decisions that continue to act against our collective good as a nation and as a people. Perhaps, they thought we weren’t looking, and many of us were not! [Read More...]

03 January 2016
by Victoria Rollison

The WorkChoices Zombie

Let’s put aside the irony of a Liberal government, the preacher of the ills of ‘big government’, spending $45 million to reach its expensive Royal Commission tentacles into the operation of trade unions. Let’s put aside the obvious political nature of such a witch-hunt, designed to reduce the power of unions to negotiate on behalf of workers, a seek and destroy mission with the pincer-movement aim of a) benefiting employers at the big end of town, b) reducing unions’ capacity to contribute funds to Labor election campaigns and c) to discredit Labor MPs with union backgrounds. For now, putting these contradictions and political trickery aside, which are so wholly obvious to us but strangely not apparently obvious nor interesting to commentators in the mainstream media, let’s instead look at the Trade Union Royal Commission’s findings in relation to the lives of those people the commission paradoxically claim to represent the interests of; workers. [Read More...]

03 January 2016
by Kellie Tranter

Turnbull & Dutton Caught Misleading Public

Abyan: Turnbull's stumbling start to 2016 as FOI docs reveal he and Dutton misled Australian public

Newly released FOI documents on the Abyan case reveal that DIBP and Minister Peter Dutton misled Parliament and the Australian people. Prime Minister Turnbull's decision to back the Department and Minister's version of events again raises questions about his judgement. Human rights lawyer, Kellie Tranter, who obtained the documents is calling for a Royal Commission.

The case of Abyan, the 23-year old Somali refugee who was sexually assaulted while hitchhiking on Nauru, and who came to Australia for an abortion and subsequently was deported, generated conflicting versions of what she wanted, how she was treated and why.

Documents about her case obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws now reveal how the Department of Immigration & Border Protection (DIBP) and the Minister for Immigration & Border Protection, Peter Dutton, misled the public by omission. [Read More...]

02 January 2016
by John Passant

Panadol Osteo, government cuts and tax avoidance

I take Panadol Osteo on my doctor’s advice for my osteo-arthritic knee. I buy it over the counter from my local chemist.

Until today patients could also buy it at a subsidised price if it was prescribed by a doctor. The Abbott/Turnbull government removed the subsidy for over the counter medications with effect from 1 January 2016. This means the subsidised price could increase, perhaps to the over the counter price. [Read More...]

02 January 2016
by Nick Dyrenfurth

In 2015 the captain’s calls continued under Turnbull

Despite calling for an end to political sloganeering and spin, Malcolm Turnbull is repeating many of his predecessors’ sins.

Too much power in the PM’s office persists in leading to poor policy development.

"No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins."

Is Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a practising Christian, unaware of this parable attributed to Jesus? For all his "new" politics talk of Australians living in "exciting times", "agility" and an innovation agenda born of some "ideas boom", Turnbull's popular three-month government remains caught in the paradigm of old politics. Despite calling for an end to political sloganeering and spin in favour of reasoned argument and substantive achievement, Malcolm, the Messiah of Australian politics, is repeating many of his predecessors' sins. [Read More...]

02 January 2016
by Alan Austin

Corruption and incompetence escalate on Turnbull’s watch

The pile of evidence of corruption and incompetence infecting the Coalition parties has continued to rise through December. Alan Austin updates the shame files.

Consumers of Australia’s mass media have been pummelled continually for years with front page news stories of corrupt Labor MPs and union officials. So the quiz question asked here last month did, as expected, generate hostility in the social media.

That debate – together with subsequent events – requires a revision of the question and the answer.

So here it is again.

Over the last 31 months, since May 2013, 23 state or federal parliamentarians have been forced to resign from their party or the executive (government or parliamentary) following allegations of misconduct. How many were Labor Party MPs? [Read More...]

02 January 2016
by Clancy Yeates

Aussie Banks exploit your personal data to stave off competitors

Arriving at the mechanic to pick up the car from a service, your phone buzzes with a text message. It's the bank, and it is getting in touch to offer you a loan for the $1500 repair bill you're about to get.

The bank's algorithms have calculated an interest rate which, based on your previous borrowing patterns and its view of you as a credit risk, it thinks you may accept.

If you want the loan, you can tap your phone and the money will be wired to the garage in seconds. [Read More...]

January 01 2016
by Yolanda Redrup

Ground-breaking hologram technology developed by Australasian entrepreneurs

Neville Rodda, left, and Chris Mathers have created the world's first interactive, customisable hologram, HoloSpace.

Years of pop culture exposure in Star Trek and Star Wars have not been enough to carry holograms into the mainstream. But a trans-Tasman duo is looking to change all that. [Read More...]

January 01 2016
by Nick Tabakoff

The world's biggest punter is Zeljko Ranogajec, and he's an Australian

Unassuming fellow ... punter Zeljko Ranogajec, during a walk around Balmoral

Some call him the "Loch Ness Monster" because of his rare public sightings. Casinos have dubbed him "The Joker". High-profile racing industry figures say he is the biggest punter not only in Australia but in the world. [Read More...]

January 01 2016
by Gabriela Motroc

Vaccines: This is what Big Pharma is hiding from you

The world has finally started to question Big Pharma’s agenda and is demanding transparency, but there are still some things that we don’t know which may influence our willingness to vaccinate our children.

Not long ago, a Congressional bill to force mandatory vaccinations across the United States entered the House of Representatives under the name HR 2232 or “Vaccinate All Children Act of 2015.” The bill resembles the one that passed in California a few months ago and requires all state public schools across the U.S. to mandate vaccination of their enrolled students to receive federal aid money. [Read More...]

January 01 2016
by Paul Craig Roberts

Why WWIII Is On The Horizon

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 gave birth to a dangerous American ideology called neoconservativism. The Soviet Union had served as a constraint on US unilateral action. With the removal of this constraint on Washington, neoconservatives declared their agenda of US world hegemony. America was now the “sole superpower,” the “unipower,” that could act without restraint anywhere in the world. [Read More...]