Friday, November 30, 2012

Fri 30th Nov Todays News

Happy birthday and many happy returns Jean Omari. Born on the same day, across the years, as Winston Churchill. Reputedly younger than Uong, you have more children. Remember, birthdays are good for you. For each one the Lord provides, you are blessed with another year.

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November 30Independence Day in Barbados (1966); Bonifacio Day in the Philippines; Saint Andrew's Day in Scotland
Pavel Nakhimov

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Births

[edit]Deaths

[edit]Holidays and observances


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Ducking and diving, but PM’s goose is cooked

Piers Akerman – Thursday, November 29, 2012 (6:22pm)

JULIA Gillard has just one response to allegations of impropriety - evasion. 

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WHERE DENIAL LIVES

Tim Blair – Friday, November 30, 2012 (1:05pm)

Fairfax’s John Birmingham – possibly still traumatised from being touched in the night – worries about climate change deniers
Some of them sitting in their sandals and socks at the computer in the basement laundry, banging out angry retorts to anyone who dares even suggest there might be any problem at all. 
How many Australian houses have a basement laundry?

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DISSENT SILENCED

Tim Blair – Friday, November 30, 2012 (1:02pm)

Alene Composta never had this kind of trouble:

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(Via Professor Bunyip, who also brings news of an Anne Summers publishing revolution: Sane! Factual! Relevant! 

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NEWS TO AL

Tim Blair – Friday, November 30, 2012 (12:51pm)

For a guy with so many computer screens, Al Gore sometimes misses obvious information
News Corp, for goodness sakes, is CO2 neutral. They don’t brag about it. 
C’mon, Albert. We’ve been bragging about our carbon campaign for years, my wise counsel to the contrary. Why, even today I’ve seen Imre Salusinszky file a story using nothing more than abicycle generator and two tubes of squid ink.

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SEXISM CLAIMED, AGAIN

Tim Blair – Friday, November 30, 2012 (11:53am)

Hate media veteran Mark Baker summarises recent Parliamentary events: 
The Prime Minister and her minders are masters at splitting hairs and using the delicate strands to weave grand rhetorical constructions in the hope of dodging inconvenient truths.
In August a small slip in The Australian newspaper - in which an association was wrongly described as a trust fund - was enough for Ms Gillard to pocket an apology, claim the high moral ground and open fire on a raft of well-sourced revelations about the AWU slush fund scandal.
On Thursday she was at it again … 
Do read on. And now a door opens
The Prime Minister finished the parliamentary year yesterday with calls for a judicial inquiry into union corruption after extraordinary scenes in parliament.

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Some nervous Labor MPs fear an inquiry under a Coalition government would look at the AWU affair, which has plagued the government this week, and also at MP Craig Thomson’s former union – the scandal-ridden HSU. 
As for the PM herself
She said even Mr Abbott’s response to her now world-famous speech about misogyny and sexism had been sexist. 
Double sexism!
(Via CL, who emails: “This has a really sad, George Costanza quality to it. Gillard failed to deliver another ‘world famous’ rebuttal yesterday and though the moment has passed she is essentially telling Abbott via Taylor that The Jerk Store Called.
“And she wasn’t ‘standing up for her rights.’ She was actually standing up for Peter Slipper. Even her mendacity is mendacious.")

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DEATH TRIANGLE

Tim Blair – Friday, November 30, 2012 (11:29am)

The girl was only 14
Afghan police have arrested two men accused of beheading a teenage girl with a knife in northern Kunduz province, officials said on Wednesday …
“Our investigation shows those who killed her were people who wanted to marry her,” police told the BBC … “People were harassing the family and asking for her hand. When she refused, they did this to her.” 
Attention, prehistoric monsters. This is a hand (it is holding a “pen”; we’ll cover that in a future lesson). And this is a head, such as you might find beneath those sacks you make women wear. It’s probably best that you don’t seek either of them. And we have an update: 
On Thursday, the head of the women’s affairs department in the province, Nadarah Gaia, said the girl may have been shot, rather than beheaded. 
They’ve made it to the 14th century. Progress.
(Via Brat)

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Expensive Slipper

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(4:11pm)

THE well-travelled former Speaker Peter Slipper spent $300,000 or about $11,500 a week on entitlements in the first six months of this year, according to parliamentarians’ expenditure reports tabled in Parliament.

Mr Slipper, who resigned as Speaker of the House on October 9 after allegations he sexually harassed a staffer, spent about $170,000 on travel and car costs between January 1 and June 30.
This included nearly $100,000 on trips to the United States, South Africa, Uganda, the UK, Kazakhstan, Hungary and Russia. Speakers frequently attend parliamentary delegations around the world and are among the most travelled people in parliament.
Mr Slipper stepped aside as Speaker in April. Mr Slipper spent $24,000 on car costs in the first half of this year. 

Kevin Rudd claimed nearly $350,000 in overseas travel despite Mr Rudd resigning as Foreign Minister in late February.

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2GB, November 30

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(3:22pm)

With Steve Price from 8pm. Listen live here.
Last night’s show - some politics, and lot’s that’s not. Even opera and Sicily. Listen here. 

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AWU scandal - Brandis explains the “crime” claim

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(10:54am)

 The AWU scandal
In the Senate yesterday, shadow Attorney-General George Brandis called out there was “a criminal in the Lodge”.
For making that dramatic and very serious allegation Brandis has come in for some media criticism, albeit not as full-throated as he might have expected just a few months ago. Here, for instance, is Michelle Grattan of The Age:


It’s one of the most serious accusations that could be made. It would be a show-stopper - if the federal political battle wasn’t so feral most of the time. However, these days people aren’t shocked by much that’s said in Canberra. It’s become like watching too much violence on TV. Even against that background, however, the criminality claim, coming from the most senior Coalition figures, including Tony Abbott, was extraordinary…

George Brandis - who will become attorney-general if there is an Abbott government - told the Senate on Wednesday that Gillard’s involvement in the affair had been characterised by ‘’it would appear, several breaches of the criminal law’’. I think Brandis went too far.  So I expected him to be torn to bits by a largely Left-learning Canberra press corps when he this morning fronted a press conference to explain himself.
True, Brandis refused to repeat his accusation outside Parliament and risk being sued. That should suggest he couldn’t with confidence defend his claim in court, which is not the same as to say he did not have reason to believe his claim true or even that it was false.
That said, Brandis gave a masterly and forensic presentation of the case against Gillard. I found it persuasive and I suspect those at the press conference at least understood he had some feathers to fly with, even if one journalist there persisted in repeating Gillard’s threadbare excuses. As soon as I get the transcript I will post it here.

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Bolt Report on Sunday

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(8:35am)

For the last show of the year: Tony Abbott, Michael Costa and Peter Costello.  Summing up the AWU scandal, the year that was and what Abbott plans next.
We have also asked Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, while Craig Emerson - who once protested he’d have to “storm the studio” - knows he has a standing invitation to come on. So it could get crowded.
On Sunday on Channel 10 at 10am and 4.30pm. 

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How Gillard manufactured one of the “smears” against her

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(8:10am)

Julia Gillard, Thursday:

She (Julie Bishop) referred to an interview as an exit interview. To what is she possibly referring? If she is referring to the interview of Slater & Gordon in 1995,why would she refer to it as an exit interview, other than to mislead people

Julia Gillard, Monday:
I don’t have the full transcript of my exit interview from Slater & Gordon.

UPDATE
How Gillard manufactured yet another of the “smears” against her. Mark Baker:

In August a small slip in The Australian newspaper - in which an association was wrongly described as a trust fund - was enough for Ms Gillard to pocket an apology, claim the high moral ground and open fire on a raft of well-sourced revelations about the AWU slush fund scandal.

On Thursday she was at it again, claiming a ‘’false report’’ in Fairfax newspapers discredited new information upon which Opposition Leader Tony Abbott accused her of involvement in ‘’unethical conduct and possibly unlawful behaviour’’.

This time, editing changes to the Sydney version of the Fairfax report - wrongly asserting she had said the association had no union links - were the strand on which she built a ferocious counter-attack on Mr Abbott.

Fairfax newspapers and The Australian had revealed fresh details of the transcript of a 1995 interview in which Ms Gillard, a then salaried partner at Slater & Gordon, was interrogated by senior partner Peter Gordon about her role in helping establish the AWU Workplace Reform Association, from which her former boyfriend and AWU official Bruce Wilson later stole hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The transcript confirmed what Ms Gillard avoided saying five times in response to questions in Parliament earlier this week - that she wrote a letter to the WA Corporate Affairs Commission in 1992 that was instrumental in securing the incorporation of the association.

It verified that the authority had challenged the eligibility of the association because of its apparent trade union status and that she had responded formally denying it.

And it further challenged Ms Gillard’s repeated assertion that she played a minor role advising on the incorporation by revealing she had drafted the rules of the association - without opening a proper file or consulting her partners.

Ms Gillard seized on a reference by Mr Gordon to the WA authority having suggested the association ‘’might be a trade union’’. ‘’Saying it’s not a trade union is a simple matter of fact,’’ she told Parliament.

Clearly no one at the authority could have imagined that an application to incorporate an ‘’AWU Workplace Reform Association’’ was about incorporating a trade union. Their objection was the apparent union character of an association Ms Gillard had written on the application form was devoted to ‘’changes to work to achieve safe workplaces’’ but she had told Mr Gordon was a union election slush fund.
Gillard deceives even as she argues she didn’t.  And some journalists still buy her deceits by the truckload.
(Thanks to reader Peter.) 

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Innocence filmmaker sentenced to death

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(7:27am)

The new Egypt does not inspire confidence in those who value freedom:
The Californian man behind the Innocence of Muslims online movie that triggered violence in the Middle East was sentenced to death on Wednesday in absentia in an Egyptian court.

Mark Basseley Youssef was among the seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor sentenced on charges linked to the low-budget, anti-Islam film…

Egypt’s official news agency said the court found the defendants guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information — charges that carry the death sentence.
It seems Egypt’s courts are vindicating the film’s portrayal of Islam as an oppressive and dangerous faith.

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Building unions would rather members retire on less

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(7:12am)

Let me get this right. Building unions now want their members’ retirement nest-eggs invested not in the most profitable companies, but in those crippled by union restrictions. And this guarantees a happy retirement how?
BUILDING unions are moving to sever their relationship with a major industry superannuation fund that has links to Grocon.

In a push that could cost the Cbus fund billions of investment dollars and tens of thousands of members, a coalition of building unions representing more than 80,000 Victorian workers will this weekend advertise in newspapers.

They will call for expressions of interest for replacement superannuation funds to Cbus, chaired by former Victorian premier Steve Bracks and whose board includes several Labor and union heavyweights.

The push, revealed by Fairfax Media last week, comes amid union anger that Cbus invests in other funds that use Grocon for their building work.
This ludicrous move, making retirement savings just another industrial weapon, exposes the folly of having on union-backed super boards people with a conflict of interest: 
Cbus is in a politically delicate position, with nearly half its board union leaders, including the CFMEU’s Dave Noonan and ACTU president Ged Kearney.

Mr Bracks is appointed by the ACTU, while independent director John Dawkins is a former federal Labor treasurer.

Cbus invests in a number of funds such as Colonial First State, which has a strong relationship with Grocon and is using it for building work on a $430 million redevelopment in Sydney. Last year, Grocon built a 29-level tower in Sydney for Cbus and another fund.

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Two thirds of Britain’s millionaires vanish after tax hike

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(6:59am)

Taxing the rich more is always a popular policy with populist politicians. Trouble is, Britain has found, it depends on the rich being masochists enough to just stay and take having half their income confiscated:

In the 2009-10 tax year, more than 16,000 people declared an annual income of more than £1 million to HM Revenue and Customs.
This number fell to just 6,000 after Gordon Brown introduced the new 50p top rate of income tax shortly before the last general election.

The figures have been seized upon by the Conservatives to claim that increasing the highest rate of tax actually led to a loss in revenues for the Government.
The French are fleeing. A spate of proposed tax hikes is leading hundreds of wealthy French to consider leaving the country and putting their homes on the market, real-estate agents say…

The number of high-end homes on the market has increased, with sales due to expatriations skyrocketing this year to several a week from a few a month, says Charles-Marie Jottras, president of leading luxury brokerage Daniel Féau…
Several high-profile businessmen have already packed their bags. Former L’Oréal Chief Executive Lindsay Owen-Jones has taken up residence in Lugano, Switzerland. Belgium now counts Amaury de Sèze, who served as chairman of supermarket giant Carrefour, as a local. Nicolas Chanut, founder of French investment advisory firm Exane, moved to London.
Flush French are fleeing the new government’s attempts to repair France’s public finances by increasing taxes… Among the controversial proposals in the 2013 draft budget is a 75% tax rate on salaries higher than $1.3 million, up from less than 50% currently.

“Wealthy French are not that masochistic,” says Mr. Jottras.
UPDATE
...something like £18 billion of income was ‘forestalled’ from 2010-11 unto 2009-10 to avoid the 50p income tax rate. That meant income was simply shifted from the later year into the earlier year to get round the additional tax charge…

So there was actually an increase in income in 2010-11 for those earning over £150,000 but for a massive and one off exercise in tax avoidance. And there was no impact at all of people leaving the country.
(Via Instapundit and reader Peter.)

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Media bored. But It’s still a boat a day

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(6:26am)

Has the media been too overwhelmed by the flood of boats to report them any more?
Reader Gab: 
Is the media no longer reporting on asylum boat arrivals? Haven’t seen any reports in the press - maybe I missed them or maybe everyone is just caught up in the Labor scandal. Anyway, still being reported by the government. Last [media report] I recall was a boat on the 24th November, since then it’s been a boat a day.

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Danby attacks Smith and Crean over Israel

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(6:19am)

Jewish leaders here have tended to look to the Left for protection.  Big mistake:

Backbencher Michael Danby has lashed Labor ministers Stephen Smith and Simon Crean over Australia’s intentions to abstain on the contentious plan [to give Palestine observer status at the UN] ...
Mr Danby - a vocal supporter of Israel - described the stoush inside cabinet that forced Ms Gillard to reverse her personal opposition to the Palestinian seat as ‘’a setback for supporters of Israel’’. ...
‘’The Jewish community should be particularly disappointed with ministers Crean and Stephen Smith, who did not support the Prime Minister on the pro-Israel position at this crucial juncture,’’ Mr Danby is reported to have said. The comments prompted a sharp response from Mr Crean. 
‘’He hasn’t had the guts to raise it with me before or after,’’ Mr Crean said on Thursday night.

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AWU scandal - Registrar queries slush fund

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(5:38am)

 The AWU scandal


JOHN Metaxas ... doubts he saw the original application or the letter that Ms Gillard subsequently wrote to argue the case for the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association.
The documents that accompanied the application, which Ms Gillard helped prepare and fill out, made it out to be an entity dedicated to workplace safety. The documents did not suggest its true purpose was as a “slush fund” to support union officials…
“I would have thought that a union had to be registered under its own different industrial relations legislation ...
“Having the union name in it would have triggered a letter from us asking the applicant: ‘What is the purpose of this entity? Is it union-related?’…
“The first thing we would do is find out what the intent is. You would say, ‘Well, hang on’. But I don’t think anyone (applying) is going to tell you, ‘It’s a union slush fund’. I think they would give some purpose to it and say, ‘The thing is bona fide, it’s not misleading, it is eligible’…
“You couldn’t be a trading organisation under the Associations Incorporation Act. The act was just not intended for that purpose."…

Mr Metaxas was not permitted to incorporate an association that in his opinion was likely to mislead the public as to the object or purpose of the association.
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten, a former national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, has described the [slush fund] as “inappropriate” and “unauthorised"…

Yesterday we learned [Gillard] argued in a letter to the West Australian Corporate Affairs Commissioner that the association “ought not to be construed as a trade union”. Was it a union association or not?
The significance of this issue is profound: it is unlawful under the West Australian Associations Incorporation Act for an association to be named in a way likely to mislead as to the object or purpose…

The key point is whether Ms Gillard knew that the real purpose of the association was not workplace safety.
In the 1990s, Australian Workers’ Union official Bruce Wilson was able to raise about $1 million from employers within the space of a few years. He did this by using his privileged position as a legally unfettered workers representative.

According to an Age report, in January 1994, Thiess Contractors used 115,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil on Melbourne’s Western Ring Road project by permission of Wilson, who lifted a union “ban” on the soil.
Leighton Contractors and Thiess Contractors paid $25,000 each to Wilson to complete a “site study” on contaminated soil. The study never took place. The soil was eventually laid under Environmental Protection Authority guidelines. Leighton Contractors in March 1995 also received permission from Wilson to use the contaminated soil under the same terms. As a result, workers laid soil containing asbestos…
Right now, Chevron Australia has begun one of Australia’s largest resource projects, worth $29 billion. Before commencement, John Holland and Thiess negotiated a greenfield agreement for its future employees who would work on that project…

Four unions, including the AWU, entered contract negotiations with the employers this year, prior to construction beginning. In a surprise move, the AWU undercut the other three unions and was awarded the contracts exclusively… The companies get a cheaper deal with guaranteed industrial peace on a $29?billion project. What is that worth? The union gets exclusive coverage of and access to the workforce on a $29 billion job. What is that worth?…

The AWU faction is the most powerful in the Labor Party, due to its financial clout. The faction placed Julia Gillard in the leadership and it is her Fair Work legislation that employer associations say they hate. The AWU has brought the party, the movement and the country a political scandal that at its core is about selling workers’ rights for cash.
It shouldn’t need saying, but Collier is describing the potential or opportunity for future corruption. She is not claiming current corruption by any AWU official, for which there is zero evidence.
UPDATE
THE “slush fund” at the centre of the AWU scandal was invoicing companies more than a month before it was officially incorporated by the West Australian Commissioner for Corporate Affairs.

Documents reveal that, in 1992, construction company Thiess was billed $25,272 for workplace reform representation on a project south of Perth.
The invoice was dated April 30 and was for the provision of an “AWU Workplace Reform Association representative” for the Dawesville Channel earthworks and training walls for the months of January, February and March.
Documents released under Freedom of Information laws show the Australian Workers Union and Thiess struck a memorandum of understanding relating to the Dawesville Channel project that was signed off on June 11, 1992.
But the April 30 invoice, for the first quarter of 1992, was submitted in the name of the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association.

The certificate of incorporation for the Australian Workers Union—Workplace Reform Association Inc is dated June 24, 1992. The invoice and the registration followed the lodgment of an application for incorporation for the entity dated April 22, 1992, and stamped as being submitted the next day.
What did Gillard know - if anything - of this invoice and the need to create an association to issue it?

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AWU scandal - In emergency, cry sexism

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(5:21am)

 Culture warsThe AWU scandal
Julia Gillard didn’t dare reprise her “I’m a victim of misogyny” excuse in Parliament yesterday after this pre-emptive strike by Tony Abbott in the debate over the AWU scandal:
But that left her a bit short of material when answering the charge about the dodgy lawyering she’d done on a dodgy scheme for dodgy friends. Dennis Shanahan: 
Gillard’s response was to demand an apology for being accused of “committing a crime” and accuse Abbott of backing down on his earlier claims she had broken the law, attacking Bishop for associating with Blewitt and highlighting a report in the Fairfax press she said was wrong and had to be corrected…

But while the speech was classic Gillard parliamentary rhetoric and sophistry, it was no “misogyny speech”, which inspired the backbench, fired the imagination and put Abbott in a bind.

And so Gillard reprised her victim narrative in the safety of the company of one of her most sympathetic reporters, Lenore Taylor, who dutifully reports a a stream of hypocritical abuse and special pleading as news:


JULIA GILLARD says Tony Abbott is too negative, sexist and lightweight to run the country as she seeks to turn the Coalition’s handling of the Slater & Gordon allegations to her advantage…
‘’The lesson from all of this is that negativity is hard-wired into this Leader of the Opposition…

‘’Leadership is about character and if all you can do is complain and divide and dig dirt then you are not a suitable person to run the country … it involves hard-headed policy work … If you want someone to design a complicated policy he’ll never get that done; he is incapable of policy heavy-lifting,’’ she said.

And she said even Mr Abbott’s response to her now world-famous speech about misogyny and sexism had been sexist.

Mr Abbott said last month: ‘’Never, ever, will I attempt to say that as a man I have been the victim of powerful forces beyond my control and how dare any prime minister of Australia play the victim card.’’

Ms Gillard said: ‘’I think it is actually a manifestation of deep sexism that you would say that if a woman raises her voice then that is her playing the victim as opposed to her standing up for her rights.’’
Give us a break, Prime Minister. The criticism is not of you raising your voice but lowering the tone.

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All the AWU news they care to see

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER302012(5:18am)


MICHAEL Rowland: Let’s go to The Australian. And this new document. We’ve been hearing lots of talk about smoking guns . . . is this the smoking document?
Jonathan Green (Radio National host): I’m not sure that it is. The Australian headline for a start is, I think, really interesting. There’s this sense of victory here. Proof! Says The Australian. Aah, at last. It also says new document. Let’s be honest, it’s a document that we’ve seen before, it’s the exit interview that Gillard did from Slater & Gordon. This is a previously redacted bit . . .The triumphalism in the broadsheet is interesting and the contrast to that and to how this story is playing more broadly comes in the tabloid papers . . . The Daily Telegraph goes for failures in crime bracelets, point being that I think . . . the tabloid agenda is pretty much untouched by the skirmishes in parliament. I’m not sure that this is a cut-through issue for ordinary folk.

Page 1 splash of The Daily Telegraph yesterday: 
FRESH claims Gillard argued for union body. PLEASE EXPLAIN


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