Thursday, November 01, 2012

Thu 1st November Todays News

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The tough questions PM refuses to answer

Piers Akerman – Thursday, November 01, 2012 (5:12pm)

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard is offended. She is offended by legitimate questions about her activities as a partner at the Labor law firm Slater & Gordon in the early to mid-’90s. 


Gillard hyperbowl needs flushing

Piers Akerman – Thursday, November 01, 2012 (2:23am)

ADD the Gillard government’s promise to pump an extra 450 billion litres of water into the Murray-Darling Basin ecosystem to the list of failed policies.
Even the greener-than-green Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says the legislation introduced by Environment Minister Tony Burke into parliament yesterday won’t work.
His Bill is meant to secure $1.77 billion in extra funding over 10 years to restore the ailing basin’s environment to health.
An extra 450 gigalitres (gl) of water a year and the cash to pay for its delivery were promised by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in South Australia last week.
Fittingly, she was photographed in front of the Hindmarsh Island Bridge when she made the pledge – the bridge former Labor Minister Robert Tickner tried to block on the basis of some so-called secret sacred women’s business the details of which he never investigated.
There is about as much mystery attached to the Gillard government’s plan to save the Murray-Darling as there was about the secret women’s business.
The commitment given by Gillard lifted the total amount of water designated for the environment under the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s draft water plan from 2750gl to a potential maximum of 3200gl a year – but the legislation only calls for the $1.77 billion to enable “up to” 450gl of extra water for the environment.
That’s some drop in water level and the conservationists who have been playing footsy with this excuse for a government are concerned.
The ACF’s “healthy rivers” campaigner Jonathan La Nauze told AAP that without specific targets it’s pretty unlikely the 450gl promise will be kept.
“At the moment, it’s just a giant slush fund for the irrigation industry with no obligation to return any specific volume to the environment,” La Nauze said.
“It’s a giant blank cheque with some nicely spelt out good intentions but no promise of delivering an outcome.”
Oh, oh, there’s another slush fund causing trouble for Gillard.
La Nauze said the actual final figure to be delivered could be anywhere between 2100gl and 3200gl.
It’s no surprise that the ACF is calling on the government to make 450gl a mandatory target, or better still enshrine it in the final basin plan.
Under the legislation, most of the $1.77 billion will go towards water-saving projects on farms and to removing constraints in the river system that restrict flows to the environment.
La Nauze said he had little faith that such projects could ever have the same environmental impact as flushing more water throughout the basin system.
“Ultimately it cheats the environment,” he said.
“You can’t replace real water, no matter how smart you are with concrete and steel.”
It’s not the Murray-Darling that is badly in need of a flush, it’s Gillard’s hyperbowl.


2GB, November 1

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(6:23pm)

 2GB podcasts
On with Steve Price from 8pm. Our guest: Michael Smith, who was dumped by Fairfax last year for asking “unauthorised questions” of the Prime Minister - questions now being asked of her in Parliament. Listen live here.
Last night’s show - on Al Gore, the AWU scandal, the MP who yelled “corrupt” at Julia Gillard and more.  Listen here.
On the show I talked to William Kininmonth about this deeply deceptive claim by professional alarmist Al Gore: 
The images of Sandy’s flooding brought back memories of a similar--albeit smaller scale-- event in Nashville just two years ago. There, unprecedented rainfall caused widespread flooding, wreaking havoc and submerging sections of my hometown. For me, the Nashville flood was a milestone. For many, Hurricane Sandy may prove to be a similar event: a time when the climate crisis—which is often sequestered to the far reaches of our everyday awareness became a reality.
While the storm that drenched Nashville was not a tropical cyclone like Hurricane Sandy, both storms were strengthened by the climate crisis… Other climate-related catastrophes around the world have carried the same message to hundreds of millions…
Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather.


AWU scandal: Gillard refuses to explain why her story doesn’t gell

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(5:09pm)

 The AWU scandal
If Julia Gillard tells Parliament she stands by what she said in a press conference two months ago, has she misled Parrliament if what she said back then was not true?
Ms Gillard has faced a barrage of questions from Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop today about why she had signed a power of attorney for a former union official relating to a property that was purchased using union funds almost a year after she said her AWU involvement had ended.
The Power of Attorney was signed in February 1993.
Ms Gillard said this year her involvement in the affair, in which she helped set up an AWU slush fund, ended in 1992.
The Prime Minister believed the fund was for the re-election of union officials.
Ms Gillard accused the Opposition of smear before saying she stood by her earlier statements.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, one of the issues that’s been raised in recent days is the disparity between the creation of this association and what you said in 1995. The former being that it was the creation of a workplace safety association and then three and a half years later, you said it was a slush fund.

Now, going back to the documents that have been released under FOI, with relation to the Officer of the Commissioner of Corporate Affairs, listed the 23 April 1992, is it your contention that in when Ralph Blewitt signed this document with nine pages attached which you, I believe, prepared and it says the objects of the association are, and there is like (a) to (h), and include things like promoting within unions the adoption of the association’s policies, supporting union officials.

Is your contention that those objectives of the association are consistent with being a slush fund?

PM: ...I understood then the purpose of the association was to support trade union officials who would stand on a platform about reform and improvements in workplaces....
My role in relation to this was I provided advice as a solicitor… I had no involvement in the working of the association. I provided advice in relation to its establishment and that was it…
I provided advice to assist with the incorporation of the association and then knew nothing further about its workings until allegations about these matters were raised in 1995.
And then:
Those allegations came to my attention. I formed a view that I had not been dealt with honestly and based on that view I ended a relationship I had back then, 17 years ago. 
The power of attorney Gillard claimed to have witnessed:
This power of attorney was used by Gillard’s boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, to buy himself a Melbourne unit in the name of sidekick Ralph Blewitt using money taken from his slush fund, which Gillard helped him to set up.
So Gillard can be said to have given a false answer when she said “I had no involvement in the working of the association. I provided advice in relation to its establishment and that was it” if you take that to mean nothing she did after the registration of the slush fund had anything to do with the money in it and how it was spent.
But she can argue her answer was true if you take her to have meant she did not know the power of attorney she witnessed (and any other help she gave in buying the unit) was to buy a property with funds taken from the slush fund. Provided, of course, she did indeed not know that, as she says.
But this power of attorney raises other questions, which were asked by the Opposition in Parliament today. Did Gillard actually witness Blewitt donating his power of attorney to her boyfriend, and was it backdated?
Michael Smith interviewed Ralph Blewitt who claimed the following chronology occurred:
Wilson wants to buy a house in Melbourne but doesn’t want his own name on the title deed.
Wilson signs a contract to buy 51 Kerr Street Fitzroy, but decides it should be in Ralph’s name.  The date is 13 February, 1993.
Wilson flies to Perth on or about 15 February, 1993.  He carries a Specific Power of Attorney document drafted by Julia Gillard of Slater and Gordon.
Wilson gets Blewitt to sign the document in Perth on or about 16 February, 1993.
Gillard signs the document that says she witnessed Blewitt sign it on 4 February, 1993.


Jones escapes the Left’s lynch mob

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(6:09am)

Paul Sheehan on how Alan Jones has trumped his critics - and exposed again the folly of thinking the social media is a true measure of community sentiment.
Disaster! Damien Murphy and Phil Coorey, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 2: 
ALAN Jones’s ill-chosen comments about the Prime Minister’s father have erupted into a commercial, political and broadcasting disaster for the talkback radio king. Sponsors started lining up to withdraw advertising as more than 36,000 people signed an online campaign targeting companies such as Harvey Norman, Big W and Mercedes-Benz, urging them to boycott Jones and his employer, 2GB. The Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, launched an extraordinary attack on Jones, saying he would “rather eat cardboard for breakfast than tune in to Alan Jones in the morning”.
Crumbling! Jacqueline Maley,, October 8:
NOW we see a truly populist social media campaign challenge (Alan Jones’s) power and call him out on his bitter hatred of women. It is manifesting real results, however short-lived they may be. And Jones is, to use a vulgar phrase, absolutely losing his shit. Jones’s power comes in three parts: from his popularity, the advertising clout that popularity manifests and from the perception of his power. The perception is by far the strongest part of the triad, and that is what we see crumbling now.
Naked and huddled! 3AW’s Justin Smith in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, October 25: 
HE survived cash for comment, emerged from the Cronulla riots and he even made it through a season performing in musical theatre. But this will be hard for him to live with. He’s never been so questioned. He’s never been as frowned on or so alone. And he’s never been so naked and huddled in the cold wind of public hate.
Scott Ellis, The Sydney Morning Herald online, October 30: 
RADIO host Alan Jones of 2GB was at the centre of a storm over comments about the Prime Minister last month but the controversy doesn’t appear to have done his ratings any harm. In the seventh and penultimate Nielsen radio survey for the year, Jones ... still convincingly won his timeslot, even gaining 0.5 per cent. Jones had 17.3 per cent of the audience for 2GB from 5.30am to 9am, well ahead of second-placed ABC 702 (13.1 per cent), with 2DAYFM in third place (12.1 per cent).


Column - Saying ni hao won’t seal our deal in Asia

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(6:04am)

 Politics - federal
Only a country with a cultural cringe could think that to get on in this “Asian century” we must now teach our children Mandarin.
Both sides of politics are guilty.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in May announced his own plan to teach more students Asian languages, declaring:  “‘We are supposed to be adapting to the Asian century.”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard pinched his idea five months later in unveiling her White Paper on Asia.
From the ABC transcript: “I do wanna see every Australian child in every Australian school having the opportunity to study a language in our region.”
I wanna see more English tuition myself, but it wouldn’t much matter if we taught Swahili instead of Mandarin. What drives business our way is that we have a strong economy that can afford what Asia wants to sell and can sell what Asia wants to buy.
To have our manufacturing bosses able to say “ni hao” to a Chinese client would do less to seal a deal than would scrapping the carbon tax to give them the competitive edge of cheaper power. 
Indeed, no one in primary school today can know what foreign language they will need in their future career.
In 40 years will the economic powerhouse really be China, with all its fractures?  Won’t business negotiators actually be dealing with people from half a dozen language regions?
It is precisely because so many regions are on the rise – Brazil and Chile are booming, while in Africa they talk of the “African century” – that English is almost everywhere the language of business, taught in schools from backblocks China to even Anglophobic Paris.
No future Marius Kloppers, dealing with nations from Peru to Guinea , would dare instead negotiate BHP Billiton’s deals in what limited Mandarin he’d picked up at school – in time stolen from learning more maths.
That’s what translators are for, and why we must train at least them, along with anyone interested enough in other cultures to learn the languages that appeal - Dutch and German in my case.
But to set Mandarin lessons for whole classrooms of bored students in the hope that maybe one in 1000 might earn the country Chinese gold is not a vanity, but the cringing opposite.


Column - How Abbott’s stuff-ups match Gillard’s

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(6:00am)

 Politics - deceits and stuff ups
I’M paid good money to explain stuff that’s got readers beat, like “Why did Newspoll this week have the Coalition 50-50 with our worst Government in history?”.
The lazy answer is that Newspoll, which has yoyoed suspiciously this year, yet again exaggerates Labor’s support.
Other major polls confirm what sense and anecdote suggest - Labor has slightly improved but is still behind.
Essential Media says Labor is 46 per cent to the Coalition’s 54 after preferences, while Nielsen puts it at 48 to 52.
If you wonder why Newspoll nevertheless set the jeering tone of this week’s political coverage, all I can suggest is a lot of reporters may really want to wipe the smile off the dial of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
But five paragraphs won’t justify this week’s pay, and will also have some complain I’m in denial.
What about all those god-awful mistakes by Abbott that Laurie Oakes writes about every week, they smirk? That’s why Labor is back in the game. Ha ha ha ha.
Fine. I shall indeed put Tony Abbott’s faults up against Prime Minister Julia Gillard to show how he’s stuffed up.
For once I will enter the fantasy world of an Oakes or Michelle Grattan and treat the verbal missteps of a powerless Opposition as of equal significance to the policy blunders and broken promises of a Government.
(Subscription required to read full story.)


Thomson could make a stand against union ripoffs, too

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(5:33am)

THE former Labor MP, Craig Thomson, has labelled his old party hypocritical and will vote against its legislation to excise the Australian mainland from the nation’s migration zone…
“One of the main reasons I decided to enter Parliament was because I was appalled at the way Australia was treating asylum seekers,’’ he said. ‘’But now we are seeing a Labor government going back to the Howard years by excising mainland Australia from the offshore processing centres in an appeal to the worst elements of human nature....”
On Tuesday night, Mr Thomson voted to amend a bill to free Australian research from unintended consequences of a defence treaty with the US.
Speaking hypothetically, would this moral man also vote no confidence in a Prime Minister who refuses to explain her role in: 
- creating a “slush fund” with highly deceptive articles of association used to rip off workers and bosses,
- witnessing a power of attorney in favor of her then boyfriend that the donor insists was not signed in her presence or on the day she claimed, and which was used to buy her boyfriend a house with misappropriated money, and
- failing to notify police when her boyfriend’s ripoffs were revealed?
(Gillard has claimed not to have done anything wrong or of knowing at the time of her then boyfriend’s scams.)
The moral Craig Thomson may well feel he can add to this debate and make a valuable stand.
Mark Baker of The Age sums up the latest on this scandal - and on Gillard’s refusal to give Parliament an explanation:
During a fiery exchange in question time, Liberal MP Andrew Laming was ejected from the chamber for shouting ‘’corrupt’’ at Ms Gillard, who was later forced to withdraw a personal remark directed at Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. 
Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop had called on Ms Gillard to explain how a cheque for $67,000 drawn on the AWU association towards the purchase of a Fitzroy property in 1993 had been paid into a Slater & Gordon trust account. 
‘’As a lawyer advising on the conveyance, does the Prime Minister stand by her statement that she didn’t know it was from a union slush fund she had established,’’ Ms Bishop said.
She also quoted from a 1996 affidavit by AWU national secretary Ian Cambridge - now a Fair Work Australia commissioner - who questioned how Slater & Gordon could have permitted the use of union funds in the purchase without union permission.
‘’As a lawyer acting for the union, and on the purchase of the property, how could the Prime Minister have been ignorant of the source of the funds?’’ she said...
Via reader Brennan: 
The Age asks: 
So far 67 per cent say no.
73 per cent of 10,424 Age readers now say no.
76 per cent of 14,000.


Warmist scare gets a bigger run than warmist retraction

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(5:16am)

Number of words of an Age article by Adam Morton announcing a scary new paper showing our part of the world has never warmed this fast, and humans must be to blame: 1300.
Number of words of an Age article by Adam Morton saying, whoops, the paper has a fault that “could affect the results” and has been “put on hold” while the authors “rechecked”: 229.
Number of words in The Age by Adam Morton noting that, no, the paper wasn’t merely “put on hold” but withdrawn as fundamentally wrong: 0.


Government now counts on broken promises being forgiven

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(5:04am)

The idea of a promise in politics has been so debased by this government that Niki Savva says it expects not to pay much of a price for wilfully breaking yet another - its central promise to return the Budget to surplus this year: 
This uncomfortable exposure was preceded by a report in The Sydney Morning Herald that the government was prepared to jettison its surplus objective rather than make deeper cuts that risked hurting the economy or the vulnerable. Correspondent Phil Coorey wrote it after receiving a cryptic phone call pointing him to a section in the MYEFO on which he based his story and which he quoted: “The government will continue to balance these considerations, particularly if there is any further deterioration in economic conditions or in tax receipts. (It) will continue to ensure its approach to savings is appropriate for the economic conditions and is fair on the community.”

Nobody from the government quibbled with Coorey’s story or bothered to deny it.

The opposition finally got around to asking Swan and Gillard about it in parliament and, as befits the Asian Century, we got a version of Chinese whispers, with the government effectively confirming the promise was junked while also insisting it remained committed to the objective.
Gillard and Swan have retreated from what was once a rock-solid, come hell or high water guarantee, confident they will pay little or no penalty because most economists and commentators will forgive them, business thinks it doesn’t matter, and the public never believed it would happen anyway.
The old media guard in Canberra - notably Oakes and Grattan - are not holding this Government to account for its astonishing deceits and failures. When promises mean nothing, voters become almost powerless to control those who rule.
Some of the many pre-election promises Gillard has broken here.
Some of the more than 100 guarantees Gillard and Swan have given of a Budget surplus this year here.
JOE Hockey: When did the Treasurer decide to abandon his commitment to deliver a surplus?
Wayne Swan: I thank the shadow treasurer for that question because we have a proven track record of putting in place fiscal settings which will support ...
Hockey: I rise on a point of order; it goes to relevance. The question was: when did the Treasurer decide to abandon his commitment to a surplus? I did not ask him for a history lesson on the GFC. Answer the question, please.
The Speaker: The Treasurer will return to the question.
Swan: We are putting in place the savings to bring our budget back to surplus. What this question proves is how unfit for high office the opposition are. They have no understanding of the economy, no understanding of the basic economic facts ...
Speaker: The Treasurer will return to the question.
Swan: ... and all they can run are negative scare campaigns.


Do as Government says in English, not as it does in Hindi

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(4:55am)

Greg Sheridan says the Gillard Government’s White Paper on Asia is a hoax:
Nothing it proposes will come to pass… In government you’re supposed to actually do things. The Gillard government believes you can get the same political benefit from announcing as from doing. This is one of its central ideas.
Take, for instance, its plan to teach more Asian languages so we better engage with Asia:
The Gillard government’s white paper says learning Hindi is important enough that a significant minority of Australian students should do so. Yet its funding of [the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] is so ludicrous that DFAT does not even offer Hindi as one of the languages it teaches its diplomats. So at the top of the knowledge tree, the government has shown by its actions that it believes Hindi is no use even to officials whose full-time task is working in India. Yet at the same time it has a vision, completely unfunded of course, that Hindi will become part of the mainstream Australian school experience. And we are expected to take this seriously? Good grief.


That $2 billion the Government needed may be gone already

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(4:43am)

The failure alone of this tax to raise any significant money means the long-promised Budget surplus is already blown:
THE Gillard government faces a new threat to the estimated $2 billion in revenue it expects to raise this year from the mining tax because the biggest iron ore and coal producers are rapidly building up state royalty “credits” to offset their commonwealth payments.
While BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata did not make any profits-based payments under the new minerals resource rent tax in the first quarter of its existence, they ...remain liable for billions in state royalties from iron ore and coal production that are “credited” against the federal tax… The miners are still paying state royalties that rely on production, not profits. Last year in Western Australia, royalties on iron ore amounted to $3.8bn while royalties on coal in Queensland came to $2.3bn.
The Treasurer yesterday ... again refused to repeat in parliament his previous guarantee to return the budget to surplus in 2012-13 after estimating a reduced surplus of $1.1bn last week in the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook.
Finance Minister Penny Wong told the Senate she could not provide “that level of detail” when asked what impact the accrual of tax credits would have on the mining tax.
Opposition assistant Treasury spokesman Mathias Cormann said last night: “Labor’s mining tax is a complete mess. It is so complex not even the Finance Minister understands how it operates...”


No target needed if it’s that cold

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER012012(12:01am)

 Global warming - general
Fair enough excuse for an exemption from a target to “stop” global warming, surely:
The first Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target Report states that Scotland emitted 54.7 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2010 — 1.1 megatons above the target set by the Climate Change Act 2009.
At Holyrood, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse blamed “exceptional cold snaps”, “year-to-year fluctuations”, “factors beyond our control”, “budget constraints”, “the challenging financial environment” and data revisions for the rise.
(Thanks to reader Ian.)

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