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June 2016

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27 June 2016

Real real Tradies

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27 June 2016
by Tom McIlroy

Election slogans: Voters disagree 'there's never been a more exciting time to be an Australian'

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Liberal Party's 2016 federal election campaign launch.

If this was the most exciting time to be alive, you'd question the worth of living

A majority of voters disagree with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's view that "there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian", a new poll has found.

Asked their views of election slogans, 53 per cent said they disagreed or strongly disagreed with Mr Turnbull's oft repeated statement. A further 31 per cent said they agreed or strongly agreed, while 16 per cent didn't know. [Read More...]

27 June 2016
by Ross Peake

New party in the ACT to oppose 'secret deals' on pokies and land development

New player: Canberra Community Voters party convenor Richard Farmer.

A fledgling political party is expected have enough members by Monday to begin a campaign against the ACT government allowing the Canberra Casino to install 200 poker machines.

The new group, Canberra Community Voters, will aggressively criticise "secret decisions" made by the government on the casino and the proposed make-over of Manuka Oval. [Read More...]

27 June 2016
by Noel Towell

Tax Office's 'covert operations' against taxpayers exposed

This former tax official blew the whistle on the Australian Taxation Office's "covert operations" against taxpayers. Then it sacked him.

Former ATO intelligence analyst Ron Shamir is now pitted in a David and Goliath legal struggle with his former public service bosses who are bringing the full might of the Commonwealth government to bear as they try to silence him.

The legal battle with the Tax Office has left Mr Shamir $200,000 in debt and struggling with health problems, simply, he says, for doing his job as a public official. [Read More...]

25 June 2016
by Mark Kenny

Same-sex marriage: Secret moves within Coalition to hobble plebiscite

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday that Coalition MPs would be free to ignore the result of the plebiscite and vote with their conscience.

A secret push is under way within the Coalition party room to hobble any positive public vote in favour of same-sex marriage equality by giving conservative MPs and senators express permission to vote in Parliament against reform if their individual electorates had voted in a majority for "no".

The ploy, which was to be kept under wraps until after the election, has been crafted to allow conservative anti-marriage equality campaigners to concentrate their resources in conservative-leaning regional and outer-suburban electorates where there is the greatest chance of winning enough individual contests to frustrate an expected popular vote, in Parliament.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is coming under increasing pressure to outline the precise details of the same-sex marriage equality plebiscite, which he says he fully expects will succeed when it is held sometime before the end of 2016 – assuming he is re-elected. [Read More...]

25 June 2016
by Karen Middleton

Parties find campaign donors harder to come by

People are paranoid about their company name being on the front page of the paper

At Labor Party headquarters, the strategy used to be called “the blizzard of shit”.

The blizzard would hit late in the campaign and involved raining down television advertising on voters to deliver or reinforce a negative message.

As campaign 2016 enters its final week, the blizzard has struck. The big parties are reaching into their pockets for a negative advertising blitz up until the electronic media ad blackout hits late in the week. [Read More...]

25 June 2016
by Greg Barns

Why isn't the erosion of our democracy an election issue?

Criminal lawyer and spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Greg Barns, looks at the erosion of rights over the course of the past three years by the Coalition and argues this should be an election issue.

It has had little or no coverage in this interminably long Federal election campaign, but the erosion of human rights – and therefore our democracy – in Australia should be an issue discussed as we head to the polls in a few days.

Over the course of the last three years, the Coalition parties supported generally by the ALP, have eroded the right to freedom of speech, undermined the right to privacy and increased the capacity of security agencies and the bureaucracy to operate without proper independent scrutiny. All of these measures have been legislated in the name of the so-called "War on Terror" or what is termed “border control”. [Read More...]

25 June 2016
by Noel Towell

Insiders say Centrelink cooks the books on waiting times

Centrelink is pressuring its public servants to manipulate waiting time figures and make the agency's performance look better, insiders have alleged.

Workers at Medicare and Centrelink have given disturbing accounts to their union of life on the front lines of the agencies which have been subjected to successive rounds of cuts over recent years.

One public servant said Centrelink was "pretending" it could do more with less resources and it was "fraud on the people of Australia". [Read More...]

24 June 2016
by David Tyler

Playing politics with our very survival

Opposition leader, Bill Shorten’s return to Hobart, a record second lightning visit in as many weeks, puts the cat amongst the Tory pigeons.

Not only is Bill back in town again campaigning, when The Australian, Fairfax’s Mark Kenny and the ABC’s Chris Uhlmann have already given the election to the government, the Labor leader whose party “lags in all key marginals” is bearing further promises of jobs and money including a bright new extension lead for Basslink.

Campaign crews report that Labor is picking up votes but only in safe Labor or safe Liberal seats on issues like health and education which won’t win it the election. What is going on?

The latest Fairfax-Ipsos polls which in Victoria and NSW state elections understate the Labor vote put the opposition ahead of the government 51-49 with Shorten maintaining his improved personal approval ratings while the latest NewsPoll, whose new methodology does not confine it just to landlines and is yet untested in an election, has the two main parties at 50-50.

Yet no-one important rates Labor’s chances, although the independents, especially the Xenophon Party in South Australia, get a massive talking up causing Malcolm Turnbull to warn that chaos will result from voting for minor parties. [Read More...]

24 June 2016
by John Haly

Negative gearing: Myths and facts

Negative gearing mainly benefits the rich — the suggestion that it doesn’t borders on hallucinatory ideology or deceit.

In fact we have just bypassed Denmark (the previous first placeholder) to hold the prize for the single largest ratio of household debt to GDP.

Our government net deficit is minuscule by comparison at only 17% of GDP.

It was only 11% when Labor left office. At the time, Australia had the third smallest net government debt relative to GDP in the OECD. Unfortunately, the sheer hysteria over government debt expressed by Joe Hockey led many voters to believe this was significant — ignoring that Australia used to be one of the world’s best performing economies in 2013. [Read More...]

24 June 2016
by Pearls and Irritations

Bill Shorten is right: Turnbull is a major threat to Medicare

On the basis of the Coalition's record in office, Bill Shorten is absolutely right that Medicare as we know it is at risk if the Coalition is re-elected.

Labor appears to have rediscovered old values, while the Liberals don’t appear changed one bit. Ian McAuley explains the mire that is the fresh debate on the future of Medicare.

“Medicare is the community standard, it’s the gold standard, it speaks to Australians about who we are. It’s an echo of an older, uncomplicated sense of solidarity, the belief that the health of any one of us matters to all of us. It’s also thoroughly modern economic policy.”

That was how Opposition Leader Bill Shorten referred to Medicare in his campaign launch on Sunday night. [Read More...]

22 June 2016
by Phillip Coorey

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Senate

The make-up of the Senate could be even more complicated after the July 2 election with predictions of a larger crossbench than that which Malcolm Turnbull tried to eradicate by changing the voting rules and calling a full-Senate election.

The analysis, conducted by The Australia Institute, is supported by a separate assessment by ABC election expert Antony Green, and is based largely on voting intention in published polls.

The most likely scenario at this stage is that after the election, there will be nine Senate crossbenchers, of which up to six, and a minium four, will belong to the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT). This would be one more than the old eight-member crossbench. [Read More...]

22 June 2016
by RT

Boys forced to rape each other at Australian military schools - inquiry

Gruesome details about Australia’s military were revealed after a public inquiry on child sex abuse discovered how recruits were forced to rape one another as part of a sick initiation practice. The abuse went unnoticed for decades.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has received no fewer than 111 reports of incidents of sexual abuse carried out against navy cadets as young as 15 in the 1960s right through to the 1980s. [Read More...]

22 June 2016
by Richard Ackland

Mark Dreyfus on George Brandis as attorney general: a 'disaster for the rule of law'

George Brandis is convinced that most of his time in office has been “largely uncontroversial ... with only boutique controversies that excite academic common rooms

At an election debate between the attorney general and his opposition counterpart, George Brandis brushed off comments that his tenure had been controversial

The attorney general, Senator George Brandis, did not fare well in Monday evening’s much anticipated debate with his Labor party opponent, Mark Dreyfus.

The attorney was variously accused of “lying to the parliament” and “a disaster for the rule of law”, whose term of office has been marked by “attacks on independent office holders”. For good measure, Dreyfus added that Brandis had “failed Australia” and was “delusional” if he thought the attorney general’s portfolio attracted “little controversy”. [Read More...]

22 June 2016
by Jenna Price

How the federal government is already privatising Medicare

I love it when I get a phone call from a pollster. Unlike my beloved whose response is always to hang up, I have things to say and people to whom I want to say them. When I say people, I mean the politicians who run our country.

To those of you who say you can never see your views mirrored in poll results I say this: 1, answer your phones, even if the call is from a blocked number; 2, take your number off the Do Not Call register; and 3, answer your doors to strangers.

I must say I prefer the real people and not what's called a robopoll, where I just have to choose numbers and press buttons. With real people, I get to send messages to the "clients". When I say clients, I mean political parties. Oh how I hated the ReachTel poll. I am a real person with real views and would prefer to speak to a real person. [Read More...]

22 June 2016
by Mark Kenny

You've been told Labor can't win - but they can. The evidence was there all along

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten: You ain't see anything yet

Odds are you're among the roughly 54 per cent of Australians who expect Malcolm Turnbull to be returned as prime minister on July 2.

Fine, you're probably right.
But if it turns out to be Bill Shorten instead, many will be forced to admit that the signs of a public shift had been wilfully ignored. [Read More...]

21 June 2016
by John Lord

6 Goals down with a quarter to play, ‘Shorten stars’.

The polls may show the sides 50/50 going into the last quarter but the bookies are still betting on a Coalition win.

If you follow Aussie rules you would know the importance of the three-quarter time speech. The sort that inspires an effort of intestinal fortitude, or raw courage of the Ron Barassi sort. Or the famous John Kennedy “don’t think, don’t hope, do” that got the Hawk’s over the line in 1975.

It was by accident that I turned on the television last Sunday. I’d intended doing something else to break the monotony of writing a daily political post. Then I thought “no, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t”.

As I watched Bill Shorten deliver his party’s campaign launch speech I became somewhat aroused. Perhaps I should have used the word inspired in case you take that the wrong way. I began to think just how far Bill Shorten has modernised the Labor Party. [Read More...]

21 June 2016
by Timoshenko Aslanides

Australia's ongoing cultural cringe

Australia's inferiority complex is alive and well and needs to change before we lose our best and brightest.

Why do so many Australians still disdain and disparage Australian culture?

And why have some Australian politicians deemed preference for anything made in Australia “protectionism”?

The problem actually predates Australia. Here is Roman philosopher, Cicero, writing in 45 BC:

'I can never cease wondering what can be the origin of the exaggerated contempt for home products that is now fashionable.' (De Finibus, I, iii, 10, Loeb Translation.)
[Read More...]

21 June 2016
by Neil McMahon

Q&A recap: Host Tony Jones puts flu-ridden Malcolm Turnbull in the hot seat

Smiling but under the weather ... Malcolm Turnbull was the sole guest on Q&A on Monday night.

What was the question asked of the prime minister in 2016 that matched in sentiment, if not in precise wording, a curly proposition put to a previous prime minister - Kevin Rudd - on his solo appearance on the program during Campaign 2013?

To Rudd, September 2, 2013: "You and Tony Abbott to me seem almost the same person."

To Turnbull, June 20, 2016: "A bit over six months ago the Liberal Party made you the PM on the promise that you weren't Tony Abbott … but the real problem is that in two weeks you hope to continue in the same position on the argument that you're not Malcolm Turnbull either. Are you?" [Read More...]

20 June 2016
by Simon Birmingham

Five truths about Australia's education system

I have said since day one in my job as the federal Minister for Education and Training that I would work with all groups, together, to strengthen our education system for this and future generations.

Every day I talk to families and educators across the country and from those discussions there are a number of truths that I think worth highlighting so we can continue to have a constructive national conversation about how best to support Australian students.

The first truth is that the Australian schooling system is not in crisis and overall continues to perform above the OECD average in all categories. [Read More...]

20 June 2016
by Amanda Vanstone

Richard Di Natale: A (green) wolf in sheep's clothing

Federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale with ACT senate candidate Christine Hobbs.

Richard Di Natale is a better brand of Green than we've seen before. Potentially more dangerous than any previous leader because he doesn't come over as particularly obsessed or as a nutter. He's a good committee chair and mercifully untheatrical. But he wants to hide what he really is.

You may have had the experience of dealing with someone who wants to be or thinks they are something they're not. It's always difficult. These people either don't want, or just find it hard, to see themselves as others see them.

For Di Natale it's almost the reverse. He is a politician but doesn't want to be thought of as a normal politician. He leads a political party that he wants to grow but rails against the bigger parties. It seems he's opposed to deals being done, about both policy and party preferences ... unless they are ones he likes. There's no way out of it ... he is a normal politician because that's what being in parliament makes you. [Read More...]

20 June 2016
by Kellie Tranter

Dutton, Payne and Pezzullo: The truth about Australia’s militarised border

Michael Pezzullo denies it but Australia's xenophobia and extravagant security spending have succeeded in the militarisation of our border.

Recurring claims about the militarisation of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection have been denied by secretary, Michael Pezzullo.

He asserts that the introduction of a law enforcement approach with uniformed officers and arrest powers is due to modernisation as a result of government direction. But is Pezzullo really naïve enough to miss the larger reality? [Read More...]

18 June 2016
by Max Oprey

What's NXT

The grassroots strategy of the Nick Xenophon Team

Nick Xenophon (centre) launches his team’s federal election campaign last month

Nick Xenophon’s team of candidates looks set to give the major parties a shake-up at the federal election, but there are questions about what exactly the NXT stands for.
A million to one. Those are the odds, Nick Xenophon said, of his becoming kingmaker in a hung parliament.

It’s a line he’s been using a lot this election campaign, so frequently in fact that he volunteered it without even being asked about such a prospect. His determination to avoid revealing which way he is leaning is so intense he keeps fending off that line of inquiry whether or not it is being pursued. [Read More...]

18 June 2016
by Peter Hartcher

Nick Xenophon intends to 'drag both parties to the centre'

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon is worrying both major parties.

Potential kingmaker Nick Xenophon has named his policy priorities for negotiation with Labor or Liberal to form a government after the July 2 election.

The leader of the Nick Xenophon Team could control the balance of power in the House in the event of a hung parliament or extremely close outcome.

Senator Xenophon told Fairfax Media that he would negotiate with both major parties in such an event, and decide who to support based on their responses to his five-point list. [Read More...]

18 June 2016
by Paul Bongiorno

The two battles of the 2016 election

Perhaps the greatest blow in modern times to the reputation of human prognostication occurred about a month ago, in the United States, as the realisation sunk in that, contrary to what pretty much every expert of any standing in the country had predicted, Donald Trump had won the Republican presidential nomination.

What followed was a desperate and unedifying race between pundits to concede their errors – best to get in front of these things – and explain how they had made their mistakes. And oh, what explanations. They were complex, they were arcane, and most of all they were abundant. But amid these many and varied reasons was a simple and fatal error, and it’s interesting in the context of Australia’s own election. [Read More...]

17 June 2016
by Sally McCausland

Reputations in the courtroom

Interests of justice? The Liu case has been running for six years

Two recent defamation decisions illustrate how the law can be bad for both sides when cases go to court

What is it worth to protect a journalist’s source? Helena Liu’s defamation action against the Age has been running for six years now. It is still at the preliminary discovery stage despite what must be enormous costs and stress for the parties involved. On one side are the newspaper and its investigative journalists, Richard Baker, Phillip Dorling and Nick McKenzie. On the other is Liu, a businesswoman who claims to have been defamed by articles published in February 2010. The latest round in the NSW Court of Appeal went her way, with the court lifting a stay on a 2012 order by trial judge Lucy McCallum compelling the journalists to reveal the sources of documents that were the basis of their articles. [Read More...]

17 June 2016
by Christian Marx

2 + 2 = 5. AKA: The Dumbing Down of Australia

Australia is rapidly heading towards a completely stupefied populace. This is no accident! Rather, it is a concerted effort by the vested corporate interests that own all our mainstream media, and control the LNP, via their hardline, crypto Fascist organisation, the Institute of Public Affairs.

If one believed the media narrative, one would be convinced that climate change is a “socialist plot” run by the United Nations to enslave the world. One would also be inclined to believe that the LNP are good fiscal managers, refugees are taking our jobs while simultaneously taking unemployment payments, all Muslims are terrorists, the sky is green, the world is flat, etc, etc. [Read More...]

17 June 2016
by Arthur Plottier

The deterioration of the living standards in Australia

It is the opinion of the the Grattan Institute that Australia’s political system is failing to deal with – among other things – the country’s deteriorating living standards and falling education standards. More about that can be read in their ‘Orange Book 2016: priorities for the next Commonwealth Government‘ by John Daley.

The economists in the Grattan Institute – and our politicians for that matter – are continuing to look for solutions based on the ‘neoliberal economy theory base’ in indicators like the GDP and others that do not do anything to address the concerns in the report, or for that matter polices from our major political parties. [Read More...]

17 June 2016
by James Robertson

Parakeelia disclosure failure raises questions as Liberals scramble to adjust 'clerical error'

Former Liberal Party treasurer Ron Walker.

The Liberal Party is scrambling to contain the fallout over taxpayer-funded cash injections from its software company Parakeelia, amid allegations it failed to inform the corporate regulator of changes to company shareholdings for 15 years due to a "clerical error".

Appropriate arrangements to transfer this shareholding will be made in due course

Parakeelia has emerged as a significant threat to the Coalition after revelations that state and federal Liberal MPs direct part of their taxpayer-funded allowances towards the company, which in turn paid money into the accounts of the Liberal Party. [Read More...]

14 June 2016
by Neil Chenoweth

Behind Malcolm Turnbull's deal for a tax haven payout

For two decades, Malcolm Turnbull's great Russian gold adventure has been the stuff of legend – an exotic but largely untold story.

"There's nothing new here," Turnbull said last month when The Australian Financial Review revealed that the prime minister appeared in the Panama Papers as a director of a British Virgin Islands company, Star Technology Systems.

In October 1993 his merchant bank, Turnbull & Partners helped an Australian listed company, Central Mining, to acquire Star Technology, which held a stake in a huge gold deposit in Siberia. Turnbull and his partner, the former NSW Premier Neville Wran, ended up on the boards of both companies. [Read More...]

13 June 2016
by Kaye Lee

Who says we don’t need a Federal ICAC?

Members of Parliament are paid an electorate allowance, ranging between $32,000 to $46,000 depending on the size of their electorate. They are also provided with a car or given $19,500 pa to use their own.

The electorate allowance is ‘an expense of office allowance payable to Senators and Members to reimburse them for costs necessarily incurred in providing services to their constituents’.

First we had George Christensen telling us that he regularly uses his allowance to make personal donations.

Now we find out that Liberal MPs have been paying $2,500 each of taxpayer money to a company that is run by the Liberal Party and staffed by people drawing a parliamentary salary. This money has then been donated back to the Liberal Party – over $1 million in the last three years. [Read More...]

13 June 2016
by James Massola

Greens' dummy spit over preferences as unedifying as it is hypocritical

Greens leader Richard Di Natale at Parliament House.

Deal making is alive and well in politics
And it proved that when you scratch the surface, the Greens can be just like the major political parties.

Yes, Senator Di Natale was right to say that the Liberals putting Labor ahead of his party was always the most likely outcome.

And yes, it's understandable the Greens leader – who has taken a few knocks this campaign as personal scrutiny has rightly increased – is disappointed with the decision because it will set his party back. [Read More...]

13 June 2016
by James Robertson

Scandal: Parakeelia, Liberal Software Company

Government staff worked for Liberal software company

Parliamentary staff were working for the Liberal-linked software company that has transferred large sums of money to the party exceeding $1 million, emails show.

The emails suggest that government staff were simultaneously doing work for Parakeelia Pty Ltd, a company that MPs pay $2500 a year in taxpayer allowances to use its Feedback software. Parakeelia has in turn become the Liberals' second-biggest source of income. [Read More...]

Nick Xenophon 2016 Australian Federal Election Video

12 June 2016
by Adam Gartrell

Liberal candidate Chris Jermyn's missing millions after social media flop

Liberal candidate for McEwen, Chris Jermyn.

Chris Jermyn remains Liberal candidate following party meeting. It was supposed to be an epic reality competition that would reshape the social media landscape.

Instead it was an epic multi-million dollar failure overseen from start to finish by embattled Liberal candidate Chris Jermyn.

Announced to the Australian Stock Exchange by a company called Mooter Media in 2012, Shutterbug Millionaire was billed as "the search for the world's most incredible photo" – a global competition that would combine the suspense and excitement of reality TV with the interactivity and immediacy of the web.

The concept was simple: millions of people across the world would pay $1.49 to submit their greatest shots and the winner would take home $1 million. The creators were supposed to pocket many millions more. [Read More...]

12 June 2016
by Adam Gartrell

Liberal candidate resigns over Frankston brothel ownership

Mr Hsu has resigned, with immediate effect, as an endorsed candidate of the Liberal Party and has resigned as a member of the Party.

A Coalition candidate has quit after it emerged he owns a Frankston brothel called Paradise Playmates.

Taiwan-born massage therapist John Min-Chiang Hsu resigned as the Liberal Party candidate for the Victorian seat of Calwell after his ties to the brothel were revealed on Saturday.

The Victorian Liberal Party said in a statement it had come to its attention that Mr Hsu had "not fully declared his business interests prior to applying for endorsement as required". [Read More...]

11 June 2016
by Michael Pascoe

The policy failure that costs us most

The election circus rolls on, now firmly in the marginal seat pork barrel phase, while both parties carefully avoid the policy failure that ends up costing Australia most and that will become an ever-greater drag on the nation's future.

That's entirely understandable. Fixing the problem would be very difficult and costly, with no guarantees of spectacular success. It would take many years and thus have negligible immediate political reward while quickly offending key supporters on both sides of politics. In part, it involves running through the childcare minefield in very large boots. [Read More...]

11 June 2016
by Greg Earl

Opinion poll reveals Australians split over what to do about the US and China

Malcolm Turnbull sought to wrap himself in John Howard's foreign policy success on Thursday night when he declared that his predecessor was ahead of his time in recognising the US role in Asia would grow rather than recede.

Speaking at an anniversary function for Sydney University's US Studies Centre (USSC) and the American Australian Association, the prime minister said: "John understood that the US is the irreplaceable anchor to the global rules-based order – an order built upon shared political values and common economic and security interests.

"The truth of his insight has been affirmed by every subsequent prime minister. It is clearer now than it has been for decades that the US is pivotal to the rules-based order upon which our regional peace and prosperity depends."

But only a day earlier the very same organisation Turnbull and Howard were celebrating had dropped a proverbial dead skunk in the midst of the celebration. [Read More...]

11 June 2016
by Lucille Keen

Jamie Briggs has 'given up' on Mayo

Former Minister Jamie Briggs is facing losing his safe Liberal seat with worried Liberals claiming he has all but 'given up'.

Senior Liberal sources said Mr Briggs was nervous about the election, with one claiming he was resigned to the fact he wouldn't win.

A ReachTEL opinion poll for the left-wing activist group GetUp! found less than 40 per cent of Mayo voters intended to vote for Mr Briggs. [Read More...]

11 June 2016
by Mark Skulley

Timor-Leste pushes Australia to conciliation

Students protest in March outside the Australian embassy in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Australia has yet to enter into compulsory conciliation talks with Timor-Leste over maritime boundaries, but it has already disputed the legality of the process.

Timor-Leste rolled out the red carpet last month to Vladimir Golitsyn, president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), the Hamburg-based judicial body established to deal with disputes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Judge Golitsyn was the star turn at an international conference, which, in theory, addressed broad issues of maritime law. In practice, the gathering was directed at the Timorese push for Australia to negotiate a permanent maritime boundary with its neighbour. [Read More...]

10 June 2016
by Victoria Rollison

They missed it… again!

Yesterday Bill Shorten laid out his economic plan for the next 10 years. I’m sure you can guess how political journalists reacted?

Did they report that finally a leader is looking ahead further than the next election? Nope.

Did they explain the vision Shorten outlined to invest in the economy for the benefit of future growth? Nope.

Or, did they simplify the economic plan down to a competition about who will get to surplus quicker, whilst not actually listening to what Shorten said, and proved yet again they are incapable of any analysis above ‘debt and deficit bad. [Read More...]

10 June 2016
by Helen Davidson

'We vote too': Indigenous groups warn both parties they want action

Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups release Redfern statement calling for health, justice and education commitments

Dozens of Indigenous peak bodies and organisations released the 2016 Redfern statement on Thursday, outlining their call for government action on Indigenous affairs, including health, justice and education.

They also warned the next government to reinstate funding for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, which the Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, said was unrepresentative. [Read More...]

10 June 2016
by Nathan Hondros

Canning MP defies ‘orders’ to take down uniformed campaign photos

Canning MP Andrew Hastie says he won't remove photos of himself in uniform from his federal election campaign material.

Canning MP Andrew Hastie is defying "orders" from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to remove photos of himself in uniform from federal election campaign material.

Mr Hastie, who was an SAS officer before being elected to parliament last year, retired from the military in August prior to taking office.

He received the ADF orders after Labor's candidate for the seat of Brisbane, Pat O'Neill, was instructed by the ADF to take down photographs of himself in uniform used in campaign advertisements on a billboard.

It is understood Mr Hastie was also threatened with disciplinary action if he failed to comply with the letter.

But Mr Hastie is standing firm and has told the ADF he won't be changing any of his campaign material. [Read More...]

09 June 2016
by Michael Koziol

Coalition MP George Christensen referred to AFP over turtle 'bribery' allegation

George Christensen campaigning with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this week.

Controversial Nationals MP George Christensen has been referred to the Australian Federal Police over allegations he may have breached anti-bribery provisions. [Read More...]

09 June 2016
by Primrose Riordan

Vote For Me, You Get A Harbor: Liberal MP

The Labor Party said a comment by Liberal Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis suggesting the Turnbull government may deliver projects in her seat only if she is elected was a repeat of a widely criticised remark made by ex-Victorian Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited Ms Sudmalis in her seat, which she holds by 3.8 per cent, on Wednesday to promise $358,000 to build the Jindelara Cottage in Ulladulla and $790,000 to upgrade Ulladulla Harbour. [Read More...]

09 June 2016
by Phillip Coorey

Xenophon a pest, says Howard

Rebekah Sharkie - NXT candidate for Mayo (SA)

Former Liberal prime minister John Howard has dismissed the prospect of a hung Parliament and believes Malcolm Turnbull will be re-elected with a "clean-cut" margin because there was no mood to throw out the government.

Campaigning in the Adelaide Hills Liberal-held seat of Mayo, which is under threat from the Nick Xenophon Team's Rebekah Sharkie, Mr Howard, who has been pinch hitting for the Coalition in threatened seats in NSW and Queensland, said he had not picked up any of the voter hostility that typically precedes a change of government. [Read More...]

08 June 2016
by Gareth Hutchens

Labor pledges to review trade deals that let companies sue Australia

Tobacco multinational Philip Morris tried unsuccessfully to sue the Australian government over plain packaging laws based on a clause in a Hong-Kong Australia free trade agreement

ALP says it will try to change three major agreements that allow corporations to sue if they think a government has damaged their interests

Labor is promising to review three of the major free trade agreements signed by the Abbott and Turnbull governments in the hope of removing a controversial clause that allows foreign corporations to sue the Australian government. [Read More...]

08 June 2016
by James Eyers

NAB sued by ASIC over rate rigging

NAB is the third of the big four banks to be sued over alleged BBSW manipulation

The corporate regulator has launched legal action against National Australia Bank for allegedly manipulating the bank bill swap rate (BBSW) 50 times. NAB said it would fight the case.

Labor leader Bill Shorten jumped on the move, saying it provided further evidence of the need for a royal commission into the banks. [Read More...]

08 June 2016
by AAP

Cardinal George Pell to tender resignation to Pope Francis

Cardinal George Pell presents a cricket bat to Pope Francis after a friendly cricket match at the Vatican in October 2015

Australia's most senior Catholic cleric Cardinal George Pell will tender his resignation to Pope Francis on Wednesday.

But this does not mean the controversial churchman, who has given evidence three times at the child abuse royal commission, will leave his job as the Vatican's Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy - Vatican treasurer - any time soon. [Read More...]

07 June 2016
by Urban Wronski

Turnbull driven to embrace Bernardi in another bad week for the LNP.

With a month of whistle-stops, walkthroughs and the dark pit of at least one more dud leaders’ debate yawning ahead, the coalition campaign show is careering back and forth across stage like a pantomime horse, back legs alarmingly out of step with its front.

Meanwhile, backstage, John Roskam, IPA ring-master, inveterate defender of privilege, vested interest and sundry secret backers including Gina Reinhart is whipping up such a frenzy of opposition to super policy fit to bring the house down, assisted naturally by some sensitive back-benchers. [Read More...]

06 June 2016
by Adele Ferguson

ChAFTA has opened door to unqualified workers

The Chinese Free Trade Agreement will proceed after Labor and the Coalition reach agreement on safeguards for jobs.

Earlier this year seven Chinese workers in their 50s, clutching freshly minted passports, visas and letters inviting them to Australia weaved their way through Melbourne airport, searching frantically for their onshore contact.

Bundled into a minivan, after leaving an ice-cold morning in China and landing in balmy Melbourne in February, the men were driven to a share house in North Balwyn, with a translator shouting out instructions.

They would be picked up each morning and driven to a luxury multimillion-dollar apartment development site in Richmond, Melbourne. Food and accommodation would be provided and they would work a six-day week.

An investigation into what happened next shows the ease with which the rules designed to protect Australia's labour market and industrial system can be circumvented when free trade agreements open the nation's markets to the world because of a lack of oversight and enforcement. [Read More...]

06 June 2016
by Adam Gartrell

Liberal Party accused of 'appalling' approach to privacy with misleading website

Privacy campaigners have accused the Liberal Party of an "appalling" sleight of hand for using what looks deceptively like an official government website to harvest people's personal information.

The Australian Privacy Foundation's David Vaile says the website, which spruiks the government's $840 million PaTH to Jobs internship program, appears to be deliberately misleading.

It asks employers and jobseekers to register their interest in the program by submitting their personal details. But it's only in the well-hidden fine print that it makes it clear it is a party website rather than a government one. [Read More...]

06 June 2016
by Royce Millar

Gambling and alcohol money to target anti-pokies senator Nick Xenophon, Greens

Australia's powerful gaming and alcohol lobby is targeting independent senator Nick Xenophon and the Greens as it tips hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pokie-friendly major parties ahead of the July 2 poll.

Well-placed sources have confirmed the Australian Hotels Association is supporting the major parties with a particular focus on opposing the popular Senator Xenophon and his team in South Australia and the Greens in vulnerable seats across the country.

Senator Xenophon – who has built a political empire from his roots as an anti-pokies campaigner – is tipped to win as many as three Senate seats and is a chance in two lower house seats in South Australia. The major parties are increasingly alarmed at the prospect of him holding the Senate balance of power with the Greens in the next Parliament. [Read More...]

04 June 2016
by Heath Aston

Cash for candidacy: Leaked documents show $500,000 offer to become Liberal Democratic senate candidate

Senator David Leyonhjelm has blamed a Liberal Party 'spy' in the Liberal Democrat federal executive for leaking damaging documents to the media.

The Liberal Democratic Party of NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm considered entering an agreement to accept $500,000 from an Adelaide businessman in return for making him a lead Senate candidate for the party at the July 2 election.

Leaked documents propose a deal in which Roostam Sadri, a property developer and former abattoir owner, would hand over $500,000 on the condition he be placed in the No.1 position on the Liberal Democrats ticket.

Mr Sadri was this week listed as the Liberal Democrats' only Senate candidate in South Australia and said on Friday that he would launch his campaign with $100,000 in advertising on Tuesday. [Read More...]

04 June 2016
by Roy Morgan Research

Turnbull must establish a National Crimes Authority to investigate agreements between big business and unions to underpay workers

A special snap SMS Morgan Poll shows a clear majority of Australians (77%) say the Federal Government should establish a National Crimes Authority to investigate unions and large employers paying workers below award rates. [Read More...]

04 June 2016
by Paul Karp

Nick Xenophon team polls well in Jamie Briggs's South Australian seat of Mayo

Nick Xenophon

ReachTEL poll shows 23.5% of Mayo voters support independent’s team and with Greens and Labor preferences it could win the seat

The Nick Xenophon team is polling strongly in Jamie Briggs’s South Australian seat of Mayo, suggesting it may win the seat with Greens and Labor preferences.

A ReachTEL poll conducted on 16 May, but not released until Friday, found 23.5% of people in Mayo support the Nick Xenophon team (NXT)
Briggs, who holds the seat for the Liberal party, attracted the most support with 39.6%.

However, the NXT candidate, Rebekha Sharkie, could win the seat, with preferences from Labor (18.3%) and the Greens (10.7%). [Read More...]

03 June 2016
by Russel Jackson

Nick Kyrgios pulls out of Rio Olympics due to 'unfair and unjust treatment'

Tennis star Nick Kyrgios has ended his ongoing battle with the Australian Olympic committee (AOC) and chef de mission Kitty Chiller, sensationally withdrawing himself from contention for Australia’s Rio 2016 team.

In an official statement released on Kyrgios’ website on Friday, the world No19 said that the AOC had “chosen to publicly and privately disparage” him and that despite the support of Tennis Australia, the “unfair and unjust treatment” he’d received forced him into the decision. [Read More...]

03 June 2016
by David Wroe

Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull in staggering display of oblivious timing

Australian service personnel and their dependents, including 22 Vietnam War veterans, arrive at the Richmond RAAF base in one of the largest repatriation services in Australian history

Treasurer Scott Morrison accused Labor of declaring "war on business" and using "tax as their bullets" at the exact moment the first of two RAAF planes carrying the remains of Australian soldiers touched down on home soil.

The war rhetoric had been building for a few days but, amid its own woes over superannuation, the Coalition chose Thursday of all days to elevate this punchy and angry stuff to its main campaign grab.

It was a staggering display of oblivious timing on the day that the remains of 25 Australian soldiers – who actually died in war, some from bullets – and eight family members were being repatriated [Read More...]

03 June 2016
by Josh Butler

Chris Pyne And Nick Xenophon Are Fighting About Stolen Posters

'Chris needs to realise there are many people in the electorate that don't like him or seeing his face on poles.'

Independent senator Nick Xenophon and government frontbencher Christopher Pyne are at loggerheads over election posters, with Pyne accusing members of Xenophon's party of pinching his corflutes.

The popularity of the senator and his Nick Xenophon Team in South Australia is giving the major parties real concern, with predictions the NXT could pick up at least three Senate seats and maybe even a House of Representatives seat at the July 2 election.

Some polls have NXT outstripping the Labor Party and approaching the Liberals on on primary votes, with similar results when SA voters were polled about their state election. [Read More...]

03 June 2016
by Primrose Riordan

Coalition rolls out the big guns for Mayo assault

The Liberal Party is fighting to stop what used to be one of its safest seats in South Australia, Mayo, becoming the first lower-house seat to fall to the popular Nick Xenophon Team.

Former prime minister John Howard plans to visit the seat next Tuesday after a low-profile policy visit from Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Thursday.

Recent polls have Senator Xenophon's party ahead of Labor in South Australia. The seat is held by former infrastructure minister Jamie Briggs. [Read More...]

03 June 2016
by Fleur Anderson

Facebook Survey: When 'like' means 'hate'

Malcolm Turnbull is most commonly associated with "national security" and "Barack Obama", and Bill Shorten with "business tax" and "investment property", according to a new analysis of the political chatter of Australian social media users.

Facebook has trawled through three weeks of its 14 million Australian members' conversations, shares, likes and comments related to the 2016 election to discover whether voters' thoughts about the candidates reflected their campaigns' messaging. [Read More...]

02 June 2016

by Angela Macdonald-Smith

Batteries to help grid become 'the internet of energy'

Rather than facing a "death spiral", the electricity grid is set to become the backbone of the "internet of energy," with the help of batteries – as long as policymakers get on board.

The concept that the electricity network is set to become an expensive white elephant with everyone self-sufficient in producing and storing their own power has disappeared.

In its place is the conviction that the rise of batteries will help place the transmission and distribution system as front and centre of tomorrow's electricity supply system, connecting consumers in a smart network of generation and storage devices and allowing them to trade with one another, and control household appliances remotely. [Read More...]

02 June 2016
by Jacob Greber

Exports deliver headline GDP surge but living standards under pressure

Sluggish business investment, falling profits and faltering wages growth have overshadowed a surge in export-driven economic growth as the most sustained squeeze on national income on record heads towards an unprecedented fourth year.

In a stark display of the divergent forces driving the economy, official figures showed gross domestic product rose by an annual 3.1 per cent in the first three months of 2016, the strongest annual growth in 3 1/2 years.

At the same time they confirmed that living standards shrank 2.6 per cent in the 15th straight quarter of falling or stagnant real net national disposable income per capita. [Read More...]

02 June 2016
by Sam Gerrans

The Internet: A mousetrap about to snap shut?

The Internet is the nervous system of a mass control and surveillance grid governing economic, informational and social life. Its chaotic freedom drew everyone in. Now that we’re all plugged in, the door can come down behind us. In its early years, the Internet was like the Wild West. It was a rugged, shooty-killy kind of place where things were slow and life was cheap. But it was also possible to make a load of money, and governments let things slide while the pioneers performed the huge task of clearing the land.

Now that work is done. The fields are fenced. The plots are allotted. Everything is owned and has a number. The roads are now so wide and so smooth you can drive round large bits of it in an automatic convertible and scarcely feel the bumps. [Read More...]

01 June 2016
by Ben Eltham

Labor Is At War With Inequality, Not Business

Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh

A barely reported speech delivered recently by a Labor MP reveals the party is moving towards a more radical position on the thorny issue of competition. Despite the shrieks from the business lobby, it’s not really about them.

“ALP ramps up its war on business,” screamed the headline today in The Australian. According to the narrative pushed by the Murdoch broadsheet, Labor apparently has an “anti-business agenda”. Former Queensland Labor treasurer Keith De Lacy has waded into the fray, attacking Bill Shorten’s plan to abandon the Coalition’s $48 billion company tax cuts should Labor win government.

“This is the most anti-business policy I’ve ever seen federal Labor put to an election,” De Lacy told The Australian.

“And it’s not just the policy. It’s the language. The way it splits out the top end of town leaves business in no doubt that they are the enemy.”

Exactly how “anti-business” Labor’s policy really is should be debated. Even the federal Treasury argues that the benefits of the massive company tax cuts will accrue largely to overseas multinationals. [Read More...]

01 June 2016
by Lenore Taylor

Fraction of small businesses likely to use Coalition tax cuts to expand – industry body

Only about 40,000 of the 870,000 small businesses getting a tax cut under the Coalition’s “jobs and growth” plan are likely to use the bonus to expand their operations, according to the Council of Small Business of Australia (Cosboa).

Cosboa strongly supports the tax cuts and investment incentives offered by the Turnbull government in its May budget’s “jobs and growth package”, but its chief executive Peter Strong said the extension of the instant asset write-off for investments would give the government much more “bang for its buck” in terms of economic growth than the additional tax cuts. [Read More...]

01 June 2016
by Timna Jacks

Private school students to receive $1000 more in government funds than public students by 2020

Throwing money at the problem won't fix the widening class divide in Australia's schools, says a new report.

Australia's education funding model is so dysfunctional that simply pumping billions of extra dollars into the system will not reverse the widening class divide between our schools, a new report has found.

Mid-range private school students are on track to receive approximately $1000 more federal and state government funding than comparable average government school students by 2020, based on nationwide funding trends from 2009 to 2014, according to a provocative new report by Centre for Policy Development. [Read More...]

01 June 2016
by Noel Towell

Minimum wage ruling fails to please anybody

Childcare worker Cassandra Duff will be affected by today's annual wage review.

No one in Canberra in 2016 will be saying no to a pay-rise, especially if they are on the minimum or award wages.
For Cassandra Duff and her early childhood educator colleagues, there was little to cheer about in the 2.4 per cent rise, with the childcare centre director saying that 2.4 per cent of not much is, well, not much.

Australia's 1.8 million lowest-paid workers will be awarded a minimum wage rise of extra $15.80 a week, with the Fair Work Commission ruling on Tuesday that the national minimum wage will become $17.70 an hour, or $672.70 a week, from July 1. [Read More...]