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IndyWatch Aussie Politics Feed was generated at Australian News IndyWatch.

Wednesday, 17 February


Job losses on NSW North Coast signals Essential Energy privatisation move by Baird Government? North Coast Voices

Even though Essential Energy was not included in Baird Government plans to privatize state electricity supply assets, the company's decision to cut its workforce and enter into an enterprise agreement which pares down its wages bill is looking less like a response to changed financial circumstances and more like an effort to make this business a more attractive privatization prize should the NSW government change its mind.

The Daily Examiner 15 February 2016:

ELECTRICITY provider Essential Energy wants to cut 800 jobs from regional New South Wales by 2018 under a draft workplace agreement.



As Malcolm Turnbull faces his first national budget as prime minister the right-wing nutters start to crawl out of the woodwork North Coast Voices

First cab off the rank is the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry with a Let’s Make Aged Pensions Repayable Loans! statement on 14 February 2016:

The Federal Government must use May’s Budget to demonstrate it remains committed to reducing government spending as a share of the economy or else we risk consigning future generations to the painful readjustments that have taken place in southern Europe, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said today.

The Australian Chamber has released its Pre-Budget Submission, which outlines a series of reforms that can curb runaway spending in areas including the age pension, family tax benefits and childcare.

Kate Carnell AO, CEO of the Australian Chamber, said: “Unless public spending is brought under control, the Australian economy will gradually be...

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Tuesday, 16 February


Health Department now refusing to provide accurate information on Plain Packaging Catallaxy Files

From the Hansard:

Senator LEYONHJELM: I think ‘caution’ is the appropriate word. It is a short period of time, I quite agree, except that some amazing conclusions are being drawn from what seems to be a very flimsy statistical base. Speaking of short terms and flimsy statistics, today I received a reply to a question on notice from Treasury which advised that in period of the 12 months ended November 2013 and the 12 months ended 30 November 2012 there was a 0.8 per cent decline in tobacco clearances, excluding tobacco refund scheme refunds. This is 0.8 per cent in the period of 12 months immediately before plain packaging and 12 months immediately post plain packaging. Your website refers to this as 3.4 per cent. There is an extra month included in your calculation of 2012 and an extra month in your calculation of 2013, the difference being that plain packaging started in that extra month in 2012 and, in 2013, there was an excise increase. So, comparing like with like, and Treasury has confirmed this, the accurate figure of pre and post tobacco clearances was a reduction of 0.8 per cent. Have you looked at that? Are you aware of that calculation? I understand Treasury consulted you in preparing that answer for us.

Ms Davies: Yes. The information on our website, which is quite old now, was in direct response to an article that appeared in The Australian some time ago which quoted a particular figure for the 2012 calendar year. We, at the time, engaged with Treasury and they provided the 3.4 per cent figure as the calendar year response. So that information is directly referable and responsive to an article that was in The Australian...


The truth about negative gearing Independent Australia

The truth about negative gearingNegative gearing is a deeply flawed policy, because – amongst other things – it encourages risky debt driven speculation in an already overheated market. read now...


Reptile watch ... or where would the pond be without its herpetarium and its pets? loon pond

The pond was almost moved to tears this day to see the reptiles reduced to quivering anxiety about the suffering of the workers ...

As usual, when there's talk of the hapless workers paying the greatest share of tax in at least forty years, the pond always demands respect be paid to the toilers in the field who have made this possible ...

Oh well played reptiles, well played. Top of the high risk tax avoidance stakes, and so worthy commenters on the Australian tax scene ...

And so to a little light relief with the Oz editorialist ...



Britain stands on the wrong side of history No Right Turn

Over the past decade, Israel's actions in Palestine have become so repulisve that a global movement has formed to boycott them. And it's been effective - not in crushing the israeli economy, but in eroding Israel's legitimacy and international support for its crimes. So, Israel's friends in the British Conservative party have a simple solution: make it illegal:

Local councils, public bodies and even some university student unions are to be banned by law from boycotting “unethical” companies, as part of a controversial crackdown being announced by the Government.

Under the plan all publicly funded institutions will lose the freedom to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Any public bodies that continue to pursue boycotts will face “severe penalties”, ministers said.

Senior government sources said they were cracking down on town-hall boycotts because they “undermined good community relations, poisoned and polarised debate and fuelled anti-Semitism”.

But while this is framed as being about Israel, its not just about them. The arms, gambling and tobacco industries are major targets for ethical investment policies. And there's a huge global movement to divest from the fossil fuel industry to combat climate change. And like the Israeli boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, these campaigns have been effective in de-legitimising those industries, building public support, and making real change possible.

And the Tories want to over-rule local democracy to outlaw this. In other words, they want to force l...


Ignorant Alan Jones and the Stolen Generations Independent Australia

Ignorant Alan Jones and the Stolen GenerationsShock jock Alan Jones has declared that Indigenous Australians need more Stolen Generations. Indigenous affairs editor Natalie Cromb expresses her disgust. read now...


A new bien pensant parrot commentariat lives in a taxpayer funded enclave of influence and exclusivity ... oh Caterists, et too Brutus? loon pond

The pond shamefacedly admits it held back on the Caterists today, for the pleasure of tricking the GDs of the world, who momentarily thought they might have been safe ...

The theory's simple enough.

It's okay to gorge on Moorice, but room must be saved for other delicacies, and the best treats are the ones delayed ...

So it's right to savour with anticipation the sweetest mint when it finally arrives ...

Splendid, splendid, top notch, first rate stuff ...

If the pond doesn't get to read the words bien pensants at least once a week, its life feels empty, unfulfilled, but thankfully we have a parrot who knows it, and it's infinitely more subtle and nuanced than the wretched bird trained to say "pieces of eight" in Treasure Island.

It goes without saying that it's the trendy progressive Fairfaxian cardigan socialists that ruin everything for everyone every day ... and certainly not the bien pensants paid by taxpayer grant to do the deep thinking at la d...


More British hypocrisy on the death penalty No Right Turn

The UK has had a long-term policy of opposing the death penalty, but under the Tories that policy is being eroded. The Foreign Office dropped abolition of the death penalty from its global goals, and they are carefully ignoring Saudi Arabia's mass executions so they can sell them more guns. And now they've hit a new low, with the British National Crime Agency helping to put two men on death row in Thailand:

The National Crime Agency secretly assisted the Royal Thai Police with a controversial murder investigation that put two Burmese migrants on death row despite government rules designed to stop British law enforcement contributing to capital punishment convictions overseas.

BuzzFeed News can reveal that mobile phone evidence handed over by officers from Britain’s elite crime-fighting force played a central part in the prosecution of Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, who were sentenced to death on Christmas Eve for the murders of British backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge in Koh Tao.

The Foreign Office has previously expressed grave concerns about allegations that the two Burmese men were forced to confess under torture and a spokesman said after the verdict that it “opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and we have made this position clear to the Thai government”.

British police are prohibited from supplying evidence to foreign authorities who still use capital punishment without written assurances that suspects will not be sentenced to death — unless they have ministerial permiss...


Let them come to New Zealand No Right Turn

John Key is off to Australia this week for regular talks with Malcolm Turnbull. And while its been unreported in New Zealand, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, he's offering to take Australia's latest refugee PR disaster off its hands:

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has opened the door to accepting 37 asylum seeker children destined for Nauru, offering a solution to the current immigration standoff through a deal he struck with former prime minister Julia Gillard.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this week, Mr Key said it was "potentially possible" for New Zealand to accept any genuine refugees from Australia under the agreement.

Mr Key said it had originally been made because it was "sensible and compassionate".

The context: two weeks ago, Australia's High Court found that offshore detention was lawful, clearing the way for 267 refugees - including 72 children, 37 of whom were born in Australia - to be deported to Nauru. The decision has led to protests across Australia, to State Premiers announcing that the refugees are welcome in their state, to...


Fixed four year terms across Australia The Tally Room

I’m currently working on my guide for the Brisbane City Council election, as well as updating my ward map of Queensland, both for the local government election on March 19.

On the same day as that election, Queenslanders will be voting in a constitutional referendum, which would fix state elections to be held on the same date, and extend the term from three years to four.

If this referendum is successful, the only remaining elected body in Australia running on three-year terms will be the federal Parliament, and all state and territory parliaments other than Tasmania will have put in place fixed four-terms in their state constitutions.

If I read the proposed change correctly, the first scheduled fixed-term election in Queensland would take place in October 2018, which would put the three biggest states in Australia on a schedule where all three would take place within five months from October to March every four years, starting in 2018/19. As someone who appreciates some lead-time before elections, I can’t say I’m looking forward to these three big elections basically happening simultaneously on a semi-permanent basis.

UPDATE: Thanks to Edward and Michael in comments who pointed out that the amendment would not take effect until after the next election, so if the election is in 2017 then future elections will be in 2020, 2024, 2028 etc, and if it’s in 2018 they’ll be in 2021, 2025, etc. Either way Queensland elections would be significantly separated from Victoria and New South Wales in time.

Thanks to these changes, we now have reasonably predictable timelines for all non-federal elections in Australia, and we can plot them out on a timetable which I’ve included below the fold.



Christian Lobby claims it needs hate speech to argue against ssm No Place For Sheep

  In a new and bitter twist in the ongoing debate about the plebiscite we’re having because politicians lack the courage to do the job they were elected to do and just change the damn marriage laws, Lyle Shelton, managing director of the right-wing fundamentalist Australian Christian Lobby, has now called for anti discrimination laws forbidding […]


So where now? Catallaxy Files

I have often thought of this post, Obama in the lead 68-7 – in Australia. It is the results of a round-the-world survey conducted by the BBC on how different countries would have voted in the American presidential election in 2012. The results were published right at the end of the campaign. And in Australia: Obama 68% – Romney 7%. The data are there at the end of the post. They still look as gruesome as any set of data I have ever seen.

This, mind you, was after Obama had been president for four years. The world was disintegrating, but nowhere near the level it has reached today (see the story that follows below on The Obama Legacy). Yet, I doubt that were the question raised again that there would be much regret among the 68%. Obama would still win an American election in Australia, perhaps he would even still win in the US.

My point. I seem to see political issues in a different way from most Australians. I regret Donald has not got quite the needed polish to go all the way, but no one else can make the difference he could. He ruined himself in his criticisms of George Bush and the Iraq war in the debate on the weekend. He is a New Yorker who inevitably reads The New York Times and watches NBC. Ted Cruz is right that Trump has “New York values”. He has seen how colossal his mistake has been but it’s now, I think, too late. If he wins the nomination, which he still might, although the odds have lengthened a long way, he will no longer have the support of the bien pensants, many of whom would vote for Hillary or Bernie instead.

And wh...


The Obama legacy – international division Catallaxy Files

There is nothing, either domestic or international, that has not been made worse by the Obama presidency. This is from The New York Post that deals with the international side: A world aflame: Obama aides debunk the boss’s happy talk. There is much more than this, but this is quite good enough:

“Violent extremists are operationally active in about 40 countries. Seven countries are experiencing a collapse of central government authority, 14 others face regime-threatening or violent instability or both, another 59 countries face a significant risk of instability through 2016,” Clapper said.

“There are now more Sunni violent extremist groups, members and safe havens than at any time in history.”

That’s quite an achievement. We can talk about the domestic stuff some other time.


Tim Wilson's resignation is his greatest contribution to human rights Independent Australia

Tim Wilson's resignation is his greatest contribution to human rightsThe resignation of Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson may well be regarded as his greatest contribution to human rights, writes Tess Lawrence. read now...


'M' word man shows no caution, but plenty of bigotry, paranoia and bile, and the pond wouldn't have it any other way ... because Moorice is a dish best served cold ... loon pond

Be still, beating heart.

With that offering, the first two exciting legs are in ... even though the pond never ever bets on the horses, and shows absolutely no interest in the nags, could this be the day of the perfect trifecta?

It is, it is ... soul clap hands with glee, all the pond's favourite horses are in epic form, their reptile profile cunningly disguised by their equine splendour.

But what a choice, requiring either the Judgment of Solomon or Sophie's choice.

There was of course only one answer. 

When the world's greatest climate scientist steps up to the plate, and sorts out Islamics, the pond must bow, scrape and defer ...

Who better to produce harmony in the competing religions and harmony in the land? Please, Moorice, show the world and doubting pond readers how it's done ...



Twitter owned Liberal MP Dennis Jensen over climate change stance North Coast Voices

This tweet exchange made me smile:

To be fair the Liberal Member for Tangney (WA), Dennis Geoffrey Jensen, left university with a credible BAppSc (RMIT) MSc (Melb) PhD (Monash) which qualified him in the field of biology/biotechnology, physics and material science and he did work as a research scientist for the CSIRO between 1995 to 1999.

He was on the Advisory Board of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Anti Matter/Matter Research however his register of members’ interests declarations do not make clear exactly when he began and when he vacated this non-paying position.

However, as he was employed as an air traffic controller for around three years before he managed to find science-related employment,...


Next problem for Australian Prime Minister Turnbull - his pick as Treasurer North Coast Voices

There is such a lack of talent on the government benches in Canberra that Malcolm Turnbull would have had few ministers to choose from, even if he didn’t owe Scott Morrison the treasury portfolio as exchange for his ‘support’ in the leadership challenge which saw Turnbull gain the prime ministership.

Even after three changes of portfolio, Morrison continues implementing his far-right Christian ideology which delights in screwing over the poor and vulnerable while rewarding god’s chosen - the rich.

As this report in The Sydney Morning Herald on 12 February 2016 indicates:

The most shocking thing in the Treasury analysis delivered to Scott Morrison on January 25 isn't the finding that a cut in income tax funded by a lift in the goods and services tax wouldn't boost the economy at all.

It's what Morrison asked the Treasury to model.

He asked it to model a lift in GST from 10 to 15 per cent and then ...

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Monday, 15 February


Guest Post: Ragu – Does Trump have a point? Catallaxy Files

While never having said it, Trump is implying a good point.

Where does your allegiance lay?

The illegal alien that cuts your lawn, or the American neighbour on food stamps?



Time for a Turnbull reset Drag0nista's Blog

Malcolm Turnbull has a one-off (if not entirely deserved) opportunity to reinvent his government, re-set voter expectations, and deliver policies befitting, dare we say, an innovative Government.

Sunday, 07 February


Misogyny: Alive and well under Turnbull (Part 1) Independent Australia

Misogyny: Alive and well under Turnbull (Part 1)John Haly reports on the lack of moral compass displayed in the legislative and policy direction of both Abbott and Turnbull with respect to women. read now...

IndyWatch Aussie Politics Feed Archiver

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