Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Headlines Tuesday 6th July 2010

=== Todays Toon ===
Campaign countdown: and then a jump to the riiiiiight
Julia Gillard is expected to announce her people smuggling policy today, after a Cabinet meeting yesterday to determine just how un-PC the Government could afford to get on the issue. Tony Burke had the fun task last night of going on Q and A without giving away what might be in the announcement, a piece of rhetorical gymnastics he performed admirably.
The Liberal Party has the only policy that will allow sustainable growth of the economy and the population. The fact that the ALP does not offer such means that their growth will be unsustainable for the population .. meaning people will have less and it will cost more. That should worry my fellow Australians. Don't worry about the media applauding bad moves by Gillard, or decrying good moves by Mr Abbott, the ALP have shown they cannot manage immigration, the economy, infrastructure or their own management team. - ed.
=== Bible Quote ===
“In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.”- Isaiah 12:4
=== Headlines ===
Obama's Next Frontier for NASA: Fix Relations With Muslims?
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says president has assigned America's space agency with the task of helping to improve U.S. relations with the Muslim world.

Oil Spill Cleanup Hits Another Snag
Choppy seas temporarily foil attempts to see if giant oil skimmer can be a silver bullet for cleanup efforts in the Gulf

Official to Testify in Black Panther Case
Former Justice official who claims administration backed off voter intimidation case against New Black Panther Party for racial reasons is set to testify before civil rights commission

Stepmom Caught in Murder-for-Hire Plot?
Landscaper reportedly tells police that missing Oregon 7-year-old Kyron Horman's stepmother offered him money to kill her husband

Energy giant BP has been dealt more bad news over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as the firm struggles to stay on top of what has become its biggest PR and economic disaster

Gillard to announce tougher policies on boat people
Gillard and Mr Abbott will shake-up their asylum-seeker policies today, amid claims both are trading on xenophobia. The immigration issue, which shaped the 2001 election, is again front and centre as the Prime Minister looks to appease nervous backbenchers and reclaim voters in marginal seats. Ms Gillard is expected to end the three-month freeze on processing of Sri Lankan asylum seekers and send back Afghans - which would be the first time since 2001 that Australia has returned people to the war-torn region. Meanwhile Mr Abbott will say that asylum-seekers who deliberately shed their passports or documentation before arriving in Australia will immediately be refused refugee status.

Big Bang telescope captures first image
AMAZING picture reveals how our universe came to exist roughly 13.7 billion years ago.

Buying in Melbourne? Keep saving then
FIVE years of savings now needed to buy a home in the Victorian capital as unaffordability soa

What do you do with two drunken sailors?
MAGISTRATE tells young seamen in trouble for impersonating police not to drink so much next time.

We don't really love good Neighbours
A HIT in Kylie's day, the love affair with our iconic soap is over as show records lowest ratings ever.

Tigers probe Ben Cousin's health scare
COCKTAIL of caffeine, alcohol and sleeping pills may have caused Ben Cousins' collapse.

Kids being sent back to public school
PUBLIC school enrolments soar, on the back of outstanding results in literacy and numeracy tests.

Premier John Brumby won't apologise to dyslexic man
JOHN Brumby has refused to apologise to a dyslexic man who claims the Premier's office told him to put a request for a meeting in writing. Hearing of a discrimination complaint against Mr Brumby by Jim Bond, who struggles to read and can't write, began yesterday in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Mr Bond last month said Mr Brumby's office refused to take his telephone request for a meeting unless he put it in writing. Mr Bond said he was later screamed at and questioned by police after visiting the Premier's office late last year. Mr Bond, from NSW's Central Coast, has campaigned for a better deal for the nation's up to three million dyslexia sufferers for more than two decades.

Police warned of triple shooting suspect
AUTHORITIES were told former nightclub bouncer they believe shot his ex-girlfriend, her lover and policeman was dangerous.

A RAPE victim's mother is proud her daughter had the courage to speak out about her ordeal when police had released no details.

Indian teacher's hand cut off for alleged Muhammad slight
TWO Indian men have been arrested over an attack on a college teacher who had his hand cut off for setting an exam question that allegedly insulted Muslims. T. J. Joseph, 52, had his right arm severed at the wrist as he was returning home from church with his mother and sister on Sunday, and since underwent an operation to have the limb sown back on. Mr Joseph, a lecturer at a private Christian-run college in the southern state of Kerala, was on bail since April after being arrested over a question in internal exams that some Muslim groups claimed included an insulting reference to the Prophet Muhammad. "An eight-member gang blocked his vehicle and chopped off his right arm," B. Sandya, inspector general of the local police said. "It was a planned operation. We suspect a radical Muslim group who targeted him before."

Huge Jacobs charged with Todd O'Connor's murder in Tempe
IT WAS Grand Final weekend 2008 when NSW Crime Commission officers were tapping Todd O'Connor's mobile phone. The 49-year-old, an identity in "the Kings Cross scene", was being investigated over his involvement in drug dealing on the South Coast, the NSW Supreme Court heard yesterday. His last call, secretly monitored by the crime authority, was to his accused killer Hugo Jacobs, who allegedly owed O'Connor $300,000. "I'm just in the park," Jacobs allegedly told O'Connor before hanging up at about 8.40pm on October 5, 2008. Minutes later O'Connor was shot dead - three bullets to his head and seven to his body near a park on South St, Tempe. Crown Prosecutor John Kiely SC told Jacobs' murder trial yesterday the killing was "what one would call an execution style shooting."
=== Comments ===
Government won’t be turfed out for taxing miners
by Peter Lewis
The Rudd Government has arrested its plunge in the polls by convincing Australians that last week’s Budget might not be good for them but it will be in the national interest.
Devoid of the traditional baubles and handouts, the Budget has gone a long way towards neutralising the Liberal Party’s debt offensive that was threatening to drive a stake through Labor’s economic credentials.

In a month of bad news for the government, this has to be classed as a timely victory - despite the problems with the stimulus package and the raging row over the resource rent tax, the majority of Australians think the economy is heading in the right direction.

But tellingly, the public’s perceptions are based on national interest rather than personal benefit, as this week’s Essential Report Budget report card. - an old article worth revisiting as we contemplate what the ALP are planning under Gillard - ed.
===
LINE UNDRAWN
Tim Blair
It’s quite demeaning to describe them as merely “boat people.” Considering the multitude of transport modes used by alleged refugees on their epic journeys to Australia, they should at least be called “cartrainjettruckfootbikeboat people”. Speaking of whom, here’s Bob Brown avoiding a straight answer on how many cartrainjettruckfootbikeboaties we should accept:
KERRY O’BRIEN: Is there no point at which you would acknowledge the Government’s right to limit asylum seeker arrives?

BOB BROWN: Well, let’s not talk about hypotheticals, let’s talk about the reality. 180,000 immigrants have come to this country in the first part of this year. It is a very tiny number. Let me again say: do we accept the 50,000 overstayers who’ve come by plane about whom there’s no debate. And let me also put it at - the numbers forward, where we’ve got a humanitarian program in this country which is very tiny compared to the rest of the program. Sure, that may need to be adjusted, but the time has not come for that yet, Kerry. What has happened here is this concentration on this, on this ...

KERRY O’BRIEN: What limit would you put on it? At what point - where would you draw the line?

BOB BROWN: What do you think it should be, Kerry? What do you think the population of this country should be? Governance takes the circumstances at the times and calibrates it.

KERRY O’BRIEN: You’re the elected senator. You’re the party leader; I’m asking you.
And Brown isn’t answering. At a guess, the number would have to be upwards of 1.5 million before Brown and his kind thought to act.

UPDATE. Live Gillard press conference on boaties here.

UPDATE II. Labor’s view in 2007:
Kevin Rudd has taken a tough line on border security, warning that a Labor government will turn the boats back and deter asylum-seekers, using the threat of detention and the nation’s close ties with Indonesia …

“You’d turn them back,” he said of boats approaching Australia, emphasising that Labor believed in an “orderly immigration system” enforced by deterrence.
Gillard now dismisses “turn the boats back” as a “shallow slogan”.
===
VALUE
Tim Blair
Britain’s monarchy costs taxpayers less than one-tenth of the ABC’s annual budget.

UPDATE. In other massive disparity news:
The Gillard government surrendered at least $4.5 billion in potential tax revenue to clinch its “breakthrough” deal with the mining industry.

This is three times more than the government claimed last week.
Gillard’s government has only been in office for 14 days, and already the books are out of whack.

UPDATE II. Simon Crean defends the initial figures:
There was nothing wrong with the original tax ... Let’s change the design of the tax in a way that still gets the return for the nation, still encourages expansion in encourages expansion in the industry, but importantly, is an outcome that the mining industry agrees with. After all, it was projected to yield $12 billion, it’s still going to yield $10.5 billion, it’s 90%. of the original revenue yield ...
No, it ain’t.
===
Gillard’s boat people speech: a new “Pacific Solution”
Andrew Bolt
The Prime Minister is at the Lowy Institute to reveal her new boat people policy, and starts by noting that billionaire Frank Lowy was a boat person, too.
Almost makes you think today’s boats were filled with Jews, rather than Muslims. That might be more reassuring to some, I guess.
Julia Gillard also notes that Lowy fought for Israel.
My word, but she’s keen to repair the damage Rudd did to relations with the Jewish community.
Says Western Sydney people would laugh to hear you say that a bigger population is necessarily better. They are in the “front line”.
Why, is there some sort of war going on in those suburbs particularly?
Says other parts of the country benefit from more population. We can create new industries and jobs, and better quality of life.
So far no commitment to actually cut the net immigration levels, now running at an astonishing and record 270,000 a year.
Wants a “frank, honest and open conversation” on immigration and boat people.
Really?
Says is announcing new steps to control boats, after the increase in arrivals.
And who unleashed that big increase? Who wrote that disastrous Labor policy, Jiulia?
Agrees with Julian Burnside that it would take 20 years to fill the MCG with the boat people arriving at this rate.
17 years, actually, provided the numbers don’t keep increasing.
Says Burnside is “very, very wrong” to say those objecting to boat people are racist. But then implies the Liberals are, and says “turn the boats back” is “a shallow slogan, it’s nonsense”.
But it was Kevin Rudd himself who, just before the last election, said he’d ”turn ‘em back”.
Says the Howard Government did not turn a boat back after 2003.
But there was almost none to turn back then, since just three a year were then arriving, compared to Labor’s three a week now.
She says the Liberals’ turn-the-boats-back policy would not work because the boats would just be scuttled. “Our nation would not leave children to drown.”
Is she really claiming the Liberals have an alternative position to let children die? And what of deaths under Labor’s policies right now? What of the Ashmore Reef deaths, caused when Afghans blew up their own boat? Or the boats regularly being scuttled now? Or the up to 170 people who have died so far under Labor’s “compassionate” policy? People are dying under Labor’s policies, as they did not under the last six years of the Liberals.
The “peaks of troughs” of arrivals have more to do with push factors than anything happening here.
So why did Howard’s tough regime stop the boat people almost instantly and why did this Government’s weakness led to an almost instant rise in arrivals, with many boat people telling the ABC and Australian that they had heard Rudd’s changes had made it easier to come?
Still, must clamp down on “evil” people smugglers, and not allow boat people “special treatment” and an “inside track”.
Having it both ways. The Liberals are child killers and heartless, but Labor is kind yet tough. Boat people are fleeing terrible danger, but the smugglers helping them are “evil” and must be stopped. The Coalition would kill people, when in fact the worst deaths over the past eight years have occured under Labor.
Wants to process boat people now in East Timor. Has discussed this with Ramos-Horta. So anyone coming by boat goes there, instead. Would have to be properly run. Ramos-Horta “welcomes this conversation”. Not firm proposal yet. Has talked to New Zealand, which says it will consider this ‘constructively”.
The Pacific Solution is back, after all Labor’s demonisation of it. The hypocrites. The use of East Timor, rather than Nauru again, is to hide the fact it really is a new Pacific Solution, and to borrow the Leftist aura of sanctity of East Timor.
No, no, says Julia. This is not a new Pacific Solution but a “regional solution”.
Er, why not? She doesn’t say. And it’s only a “regional solution” because New Zealand will think about the whole thing, too.
Won’t extend the suspension of refugee applications from Sri Lankans, but expects the improvement of conditions there to lead to many more refusals. Says won’t end immediately the suspension of applications from Afghans, and will work on arrangements on return of Afghans rejected here.

Warns Sri Lankans not to come. Is committed to sending failed refugee applicants home. Says has arrested nearly 150 people smugglers. Have more assets on boarder protection than did Howard.
Well, it hasn’t worked to offset the message sent by weakening the laws, has it?
Promises if relected to be even tougher against people smugglers. Welcomes refugees and says we expect them to abide by the rules, learn English and send their children to school.

UPDATE

Julia Gillard on a “Pacific Solution” when Tony Abbott promised it in May:
DEPUTY Prime Minister Julia Gillard has dubbed the Opposition’s plan to resurrect the so-called Pacific Solution a slogan, not a solution.

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott yesterday announced a coalition government would establish an offshore detention centre and possibly turn back boats to toughen up Australia’s border protection.

“What Tony Abbott announced yesterday is a slogan, not a solution,’’ Ms Gillard told the Nine Network this morning.

“I mean, he’s not able to answer any of the basic questions. Where would people go?..”
Julia Gillard in 2007 says no to a Pacific Solution:
“We have committed to ending the so called Pacific Solution, we would not have offshore processing in Manus Island and Nauru,” she said…

“it’s not part of our vision for the future.”
Julia Gillard in 2009 says no to a Pacific Solution:
We also said to the Australian people that we believed in terms of dealing with asylum seekers that it was appropriate to have mandatory detention, that it was appropriate to use the facility of Christmas Island, it was appropriate to keep that island excised but we were going to end the Pacific Solution which had cost so much money for so little result.
Julia Gillard in 2001 says no to a Pacific Solution:

BARRIE CASSIDY: When do you think the Government will abandon the Pacific solution?

JULIA GILLARD: I think ultimately it will abandon it when it runs out of space, runs out of Pacific nations to keep dealing with for asylum seekers, and I think it might end up abandoning it when the costs become public. It’s only accepted and continuing at the moment partly because the costs are hidden from us.

===
Guess NASA’s priority under Barack Obama
Andrew Bolt
Barack Obama’s new head of NASA says his “foremost” priority is:
A: To once more land a man on the moon;
B: To land a man on Mars;
C: To develop plans for a human settlement in space; or
D. To reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science
Answer here.

UPDATE

Charles Krauthammer gives this the treatment.

(Thanks to readers Alan RM Jones and Red Baron.)
===
Europe’s leaders give up on the warming faith
Andrew Bolt
Lawrence Solomon on Europe’s retreat from its insanely expensive global warming folly:
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had vowed to “save the human race” from climate change by introducing a carbon tax by the time of the G8 and G20, was a changed man by the time the meetings occurred. He cancelled his carbon tax in March, two days after a crushing defeat in regional elections that saw his Gaullist party lose just about every region of France. He got the message: Two-thirds of the French public opposed carbon taxes.

Spain? Days before the G20 meetings, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, his popularity and that of global warming in tatters, decided to gut his country’s renewables industry by unilaterally rescinding the government guarantees enshrined in legislation, knowing the rescinding would put most of his country’s 600 photovoltaic manufacturers out of business. Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi similarly scrapped government guarantees for its solar and wind companies prior to the G8 and G20, putting them into default, too.

The U.K may be making the biggest global-warming cuts of all, with an emergency budget that came down the week of the G20 meetings. The two government departments responsible for climate-change policies — previously immune to cuts — must now contract by an extraordinary 25%. Other U.K. departments are also ditching climate-change programs — the casualties include manufacturers of electric cars, the Low Carbon Buildings Program, and, as the minister in charge put it, “every commitment made by the last government on renewables is under review.” Some areas of the economy not only survived but expanded, though: The government announced record offshore oil development in the North Sea — the U.K. granted a record 356 exploration licences in its most recent round.
How much could an Abbott Government save by pruning Australia’s own mad green schemes?

UPDATE

Greens hail China for leading the world in energy efficiency targets (and never mind that total energy use and emissions are actually soaring). Here, for instance, is our Energy Efficiency Council:
China is actually one of the world leaders in energy efficiency and aims to cut its energy use per unit of GDP. It was 20 per cent by 2020 and they have just upped that target. This is going to create a huge demand for energy efficiency services and products around the world.
But even that one boast is now under severe threat:
Aspiring to a more Western standard of living, in many cases with the government’s encouragement, China’s population, 1.3 billion strong, is clamoring for more and bigger cars, for electricity-dependent home appliances and for more creature comforts like air-conditioned shopping malls.

As a result, China is actually becoming even less energy efficient. And because most of its energy is still produced by burning fossil fuels, China’s emission of carbon dioxide — a so-called greenhouse gas — is growing worse. This past winter and spring showed the largest six-month increase in tonnage ever by a single country…

“We really have an arduous task” even to reach China’s existing energy-efficiency goals, said Gao Shixian, an energy official at the National Development and Reform Commission,…

But even if China can make the promised improvements, the International Energy Agency now projects that China’s emissions of energy-related greenhouse gases will grow more than the rest of the world’s combined increase by 2020. China, with one-fifth of the world’s population, is now on track to represent more than a quarter of humanity’s energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions....

As the economy becomes more reliant on domestic demand instead of exports, growth is shifting toward energy-hungry steel and cement production and away from light industries like toys and apparel....

An older generation of low-wage migrant workers accepted hot dormitories and factories with barely a fan to keep them cool, one of many reasons Chinese emissions per person are still a third of American emissions per person. Besides higher pay, young Chinese are now demanding their own 100-square-foot studio apartments, with air-conditioning at home and in factories. Indeed, one of the demands by workers who went on strike in May at a Honda transmission factory in Foshan was that the air-conditioning thermostats be set lower.

Chinese regulations still mandate that the air-conditioning in most places be set no cooler than 79 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. But upscale shopping malls have long been exempt from the thermostat controls and have maintained much cooler temperatures through the summers. Now, as the consumer economy takes root, those malls are proliferating in cities across China.

Premier Wen acknowledged in a statement after a cabinet meeting in May that the efficiency gains had started to reverse and actually deteriorated by 3.2 percent in the first quarter of this year.
(Thanks to reader AlanY.)
===
Does Gillard still want the Left to “muscle up” to crush “extreme” me?
Andrew Bolt
One of us has changed, or maybe both. Third option: Gillard is now foxing, because here’s a column of mine from 2003 that reader Barry has just drawn to my attention:
I DON’T know whether to order Bollinger’s best or a bullet-proof vest.

Or maybe I should just buy Julia Gillard, federal Labor’s immigration spokeswoman, some pills for her alarming paranoia.

The champagne is to toast what Gillard revealed last week -- my apparently single-handed victory in Victoria’s ``culture war’’.

The vest is to now defend myself against Gillard’s ``call to arms’’, in which she demanded the Left ``unite’’ and ``muscle up’’ to crush ``extreme’’ figures like me.

And the paranoia pills are to cure Gillard of her fantasy that she now lives in a country in which ``freedom of political expression is itself under threat’’, and that people like her risk being ``hanged separately’’ by my ``extreme conservative minority’’ that just wants ``total victory’’.

But maybe I’ll just buy Gillard spectacles and a hearing aid, because, incredibly, she believes my gang and I dominate the media so completely that ``it’s hard to find supporters of (Labor) in the newspapers and on the airwaves’’.

What? Doesn’t Gillard own a radio? Has she never read a paper?

In a speech at the Sydney Institute, Gillard blamed eight media figures for creating in Australia ``an environment in which progressive views are lampooned as soon as uttered’’.

These ``Right-wing commentators’’ had ensured the press was now ``anything but . . . biased towards Labor’’. Our nasty creed of ``individual selfishness’’ was now the ``new orthodoxy’’.

Who are these criminals? Well, they’re Christopher Pearson from Adelaide; Sydney’s Piers Akerman, Janet Albrechtson, Alan Jones, Paddy McGuinness and John Laws; and Les Carlyon and myself in Melbourne.

I’m particularly blamed, not least for accusing director Phillip ``Rabbit-Proof Fence’’ Noyce of ``stealing Aboriginal children’’.... Another of my sins, cited by Gillard, was to have criticised our Melbourne Museum for its political bias, sloppiness and falsification of history. Flaws which help to explain why few visit this neo-Marxist mausoleum.

This, then, is how I’ve helped to put Victoria ``in the grip of neo-conservative political correctness’’.

YOU’LL say I have tickets on myself, taking so much credit.... So who else in Victoria’s media could Gillard imagine has helped me to ``create’’ this anti-Left ``environment’’ that so ``grips’’ us?… Now see who I’m up against....
Read on for the full column, and wonder whether Gillard has since moderated her views because of greater wisdom ... or mere tactics:
===
Green laws and a dead business
Andrew Bolt


How a change in environmental laws bankrupted a West Australian business - and killed the 20 jobs that went with it.

(Thanks to reader Ruth.)
===
Climategate: how a story the media pooh-poohed changed everything
Andrew Bolt
Climategate, a story the mainstream media here tried to ignore, turns out to have been a gamechanger, despite the whitewash applied since:

‘’The release of the emails was a turning point,’’ Mike Hulme, professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, told The Guardian . ‘’...Already there is a new tone. Researchers are more upfront, open and explicit about their uncertainties.’’

Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said researchers had to accept that the affair would not only result in their own science being judged but also their motives, professionalism, integrity and ‘’all those other qualities that are considered important in public life’’.

The Climategate controversy erupted last November, weeks before the Copenhagen summit. It was sparked by the leaking of thousands of emails belonging to the University of East Anglia and their publication online.

The emails, mostly between Dr Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and colleagues both in Britain and the US, appeared to reveal a systematic attempt to evade freedom of information requests as well as open discussion on ways to play down research findings that did not fit within the framework of steadily rising global temperatures.

The scientists also appeared to work actively to stop the publication of rivals’ work in peer-reviewed papers. Hans von Storch of the KGSS Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany, told the newspaper that trust had been damaged by the affair:

‘’People now find it conceivable that scientists cheat and manipulate, and understand that scientists need societal supervision as any other societal institution,’’ he said…

Judith Curry, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, the scientist who has worked hard to try to reconcile warring factions, said the idea of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists as ‘’self-appointed oracles, enhanced by the Nobel prize, is now in tatters’’…

The furore had laid bare ‘’the seamy side of peer review and consensus building in the IPCC assessment reports.’’

===
Match this: Abbott dares Gillard on boats
Andrew Bolt
Tony Abbott sets a bar for Julia Gillard, and what he proposes makes sense. After all, is there a legitimate reason for some boat people to dump their passports between flying to Indonesia and taking a boat to Australia?
ASYLUM seekers who dump their passports or documentation before arriving in Australia would be refused refugee status under a “get tougher” policy on boat people to be unveiled on Tuesday by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

The power to rubber-stamp applications would also be removed from assessors at Christmas Island, and the immigration minister would be given the power to intervene in any case to refuse entry, through the courts if necessary.

The new restrictions are expected to be in addition to a restoration of the temporary protection visas introduced by former PM John Howard and a return to offshore processing of refugees, formerly the Pacific Solution.

The battle for anti-immigration votes will intensify on Tuesday. Prime Minister Julia Gillard is preparing to announce Labor’s own hardened policy…

Last (financial) year 5600 people arrived by boat after reportedly each paying between $5000 and $20,000 to people smugglers.
UPDATE

How many boat people would have to arrive before Bob Brown thought we had a problem? You guess, because the Greens leader refuses to say.
===
Labor policy works like a house on fire
Andrew Bolt
No one ever warned that a vote for Labor was a vote for having your house burned:
THE number of fires linked to the government’s $2.45 billion insulation scheme has officially jumped to 189, up from 174 two weeks ago.
UPDATE

The Government meanwhile struggles to keep the lid on the hundreds of complaints against Julia Gillard’s own stimulus package:
AFTER 240 complaints about projects in the BER program, the new Education Minister has warned that funding could be withheld.…

New minister Simon Crean told The Australian 140 complaints had been received by the taskforce set up to investigate complaints about the BER.

Another 100 complaints were made directly to the department, he said. Of the complaints, 150 were about projects in NSW, and in her last days as education minister Julia Gillard announced that she was withholding $75m from that state until problems were sorted out.

Mr Crean said 55 complaints were about projects in Victoria. There were fewer than 20 complaints about projects in Queensland. Problems in other states and territories were in single digits.
(Thanks to readers Pira and CA.)
===
How Gillard conned you into overlooking the missing billions
Andrew Bolt
Most of the media has moved on, but Alan Kohler rightly notes the Gillard Government has pulled a gigantic con on the public buy claiming its deal on the mining tax only cost $1.5 billion over two years:
Apparently we can cut the resource rent tax rate from 40 to 22.5 per cent, more than double the profit threshold above which it cuts in and reduce the number of companies being taxed from 2,500 to 320, and only lose one-eighth of the money...

But how can you still raise $10.5 billion from a tax that is clearly a shadow of its former self and apparently makes the miners happy? ...

I think Resources Minister Martin Ferguson might have let the answer slip in his interview yesterday with Barrie Cassidy on Insiders. He said: “I think the forward estimates we worked on are pretty solid because they represent an update in interprets (sic) of commodity prices.”

It looks like the Government has raised its forecasts for commodity prices, just as the world appears to be tipping over into another recession.
I’ve pointed before to other signs of the great lie that’s been perpetrated. Now see how another Minister, Simon Crean, spins the deceitful line to Laurie Oakes on Channel 9:
There was nothing wrong with the original tax.... Let’s change the design of the tax in a way that still gets the return for the nation, still encourages expansion in encourages expansion in the industry, but importantly, is an outcome that the mining industry agrees with. Afterall, it was projected to yield $12 billion, it’s still going to yield $10.5 billion, it’s 90%. of the original revenue yield...
UPDATE

Confirmed. The very first big deal sold to you by the Gillard Government involved the telling of a $3 billion lie:
THE Gillard government surrendered at least $4.5 billion in potential tax revenue to clinch its “breakthrough” deal with the mining industry.

This is three times more than the government claimed last week.

As Resources Minister Martin Ferguson told furious mining bosses in Perth he would consider further changes to the deal, Treasury secretary Ken Henry confirmed a significant rise in commodity prices had been built into the new tax forecasts compared with the original resource super-profits tax....

Testifying before a Senate committee yesterday, Dr Henry said the government’s forecast that the MRRT would still bring in revenue of $10.5bn in its first two years - down from the initial forecast of $12bn - incorporated the big iron ore and coal price rises miners had won since the May budget.

Mining tax consultants say these higher prices would have raised revenue from the $12bn forecast in the super-profits tax by at least 25 per cent, generating more than $15bn. This meant the government had given up about $4.5bn in potential revenue when it renegotiated the tax.

Dr Henry declined to comment on estimates that revenue would have been between $15bn and $20bn, saying he had not seen the Treasury analysis quantifying the contribution of higher commodity prices, but noted that the price rises were significant.
And Treasurer Wayne Swan was even worse than Crean in tryng to deceive voters about just how big the Government backflip had been:
Asked on Friday whether there were changes in assumptions on the new tax, Wayne Swan did not initially mention the rise in commodity prices. “The swings and roundabouts of the MRRT compared to our previous proposal means that there is only $1.5bn less in revenue… “.
UPDATE 2

Terry McCrann says the lie is even bigger - and involves another Treasury fiddle besides:
THE government’s estimate that it will pocket $10.5 billion from its Resource Tax Mk II are based on guessing coal and iron ore prices three years into the future, and - conveniently? - guessing they will go up.

If the guesses prove wrong, much or all of that expected money could evaporate. The Budget would remain in the red - perhaps deep in the red.

This also exposes Julia Gillard’s first Big Lie as Prime Minister. Last Friday her joint statement with Treasurer Wayne Swan and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said the “improved resource tax reforms are estimated to reduce revenue by $1.5 billion over the forward estimates.” This is simply untrue....

Resource Tax Mk I was of course rushed out just before the Budget in May as a (disastrous) ‘done deal’ to get its claimed revenue into the Budget so as to produce a projected surplus of just $1 billion in 2012-13.

The Budget said it would generate a total of $12 billion of revenue over the two years 2012-13 and 2013-14. Extraordinarily, despite gutting the tax, the Government claimed last Friday that it would still get $10.5 billion from it (and the other minor tax changes) in the two years.

Yesterday, Henry disclosed that part of the explanation came because Treasury had “revised up commodity prices since the Budget.” ...

The changes by themselves cost revenue at least $5 billion and perhaps as much as $10 billion or quite possibly even more...

So how did Treasury come to forecast higher commodity prices? Essentially by guessing....

Henry admitted yesterday that Treasury’s revised forecasts had taken (the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics’) most recent revision (of commodity prices) “into account.” But that revision is only for price forecasts out to 2010-11.

So it appears that Treasury has based its estimates of commodity prices in 2012-13 and 2013-14 on prices expected for the 2010-11 year. That’s not only a full two years before, but on prices which will be at or near their all-times peaks!
UPDATE 3

Not quite the dead issue that Labor now claims:
RESOURCES Minister Martin Ferguson decided it was finally time to admit Labor got it wrong on the super-profits tax.

This came after an hour of copping flak from West Australian mine bosses during a fiery meeting in Perth yesterday…

The mid-tier and small mining companies remain angry that the Labor government announced the resource super-profits tax in May without any consultation.

In some cases, as chief executives grabbed the microphone to tell Mr Ferguson yesterday, the RSPT had halved their company share prices and caused debt to swell and equity investments to dry up. As Sandfire Resources chief executive Karl Simich put it, the process was “an absolute debacle”.

The Perth mining bosses are equally upset that the Gillard government announced the new minerals resource rent tax last week after talking only to industry giants such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.
UPDATE 4

Ken Henry broods:
THE Treasury boss, Ken Henry, has distanced himself from the Gillard government’s new mining tax, saying it will be worse for jobs and investment than the tax it replaced…

As the Treasury Secretary appeared before a Senate committee in Canberra, smaller miners and oil and gas explorers expressed anger that the big miners had traded away their $1.8 billion exploration rebate to get the tax cut they wanted.
Niki Savva says Henry has form for unloading on governments who don’t treat him as the oracle.

(Thanks to readers Max, Sprie and Steve.)
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