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Friday, 19 February


A hint of what the Australian Federal Police know concerning the Ashby-Brough affair North Coast Voices

What Senate Estimates tells us this month: 

* Liberal MP for Fisher Mal Brough has been formally interviewed by federal police at least once; 
* hundreds of thousands of emails, documents and images have been seized from the homes of Mal BroughJames Ashby, Karen Doane and elsewhere; 
* the official charge being considered is unauthorised disclosure1; 
* federa...


Commissioner For Chilled Martinis wants to enter federal politics North Coast Voices

“The work we have done at the Commission is very important. The role of Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner is to start these conversations. It is up to the Parliament to finish them. It’s also the role of the Parliament to deal with many other issues that I am passionate about.
That’s why I am announcing today my intention to resign the office of Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner effective from Friday, 19 February to seek preselection to be the Liberal Party’s candidate for the Federal Electorate of Goldstein.
This is a tough decision for me, but the right one. The people of Goldstein deserve someone who will fight for them.

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Thursday, 18 February


That’s a bit rich Catallaxy Files

So Australian ex-pat David Glasgow makes a good point:

Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing helpful about the use of sweeping generalisations and epithets to dismiss political opponents, no matter what side they are on.

But here’s the difficulty: bigotry, misogyny, racism and transphobia do exist, and the boundaries of those concepts shift as social mores evolve. Ideas are not locked in a state of equilibrium, and no one is entitled to have their views considered permanently respectable.

So while it is understandable that traditionalists lament the decline of their ideas on certain topics – particularly those that relate to sexual freedom – losing a public debate is not the same thing as being silenced or bullied.

Quite right – arguments are won and lost every day, and tomorrow is another day. But the thing is this – generally the community will decide who has won or lost an argument. Anti-free speech laws have judges telling us who has won or lost an argument. That is a silencing. It is unlawful in Australia, for example, to say that white is not black. It may soon become unlawful to argue that marriage should be between a man and a woman. It might soon be unlawful for students at a public university to protest about being excluded from using computer facilities funded by the taxpayer. There is a huge difference between some views and opinions becoming impolite and those same views becoming unlawful.

The most interesting aspect of Mr Glasgow’s views on free speech is that he writes from New York State in the United States. His right to free speech is protected by the first amendment to the US constitution, and the second amendment too. Here is Australia we have none of those rights.


We are angry too and not for the reason you think Catallaxy Files

Last weekend Kelly O’Dwyer sent out an email to her constituents:

Small business people are angry. Mums and dads are angry. And I’m angry.

Nothing makes fair-minded Australian taxpayers angrier than others not doing the right thing and not paying their fair share.

Too many multinational companies have avoided Australian tax for too long.

But things are changing.

We’ve made real progress in cracking down on multinational tax avoidance by strengthening our laws and doubling penalties for large companies. We’re leading the fight internationally with unprecedented information sharing.

And importantly, we’ve given the ATO the powers and resources it needs to go after the tax cheats.

But I’m still angry and you should be too. While Labor talks about collecting more tax from multinationals, they recently voted to let multinationals off the hook by voting against our new laws.

If we wanted high taxes and the politics of envy, stupidity, and resentment we could have stuck with Wayne Swan and friends. Rather than introducing new taxes on multinationals, the Liberal government should be cutting taxes for Australians.

The fact is that the federal government can either cut entrepreneurship and risk taking, or it can cut welfare. Why a Liberal government chooses to cut entrepreneurship and risk taking when welfare recipients don’t vote Liberal is a question many Liberal voters are pondering.


Abolish the capital gains tax Catallaxy Files

Yesterday Paul Kelly said a terrible thing:

[The government] should duplicate Labor exactly and accept the CGT discount going from 50 to 25 per cent, noting this policy has provoked very little criticism.

He is quite right – people have been reacting to the negative gearing proposal (hopefully my analysis will appear early next week) and not so much to the second part of the ALP proposal.

Let’s up the ante – the government should simply abolish the capital gains tax.

It raises little revenue itself, it is a tax on capital not income, and at best is an anti-tax avoidance measure. In the absence of a capital gains tax many individuals engage in tax planning activities that convert income into capital gains. The introduction of a capital gains tax is meant to eliminate that otherwise socially wasteful behaviour.

But … the ATO has at its disposal the General Anti-Avoidance Rules that are very broad and allow the ATO to sue and reverse in the courts any activity that has the primary objective of tax avoidance. The Parliament often passes laws and then leaves it to the courts to sort out the details. It isn’t clear why that approach couldn’t be adopted here. (Actually it is clear, but there is no reason in principle why that approach couldn’t be adopted).

Anyway, several years ago Stephen Kirchner – then at the CIS – published a very nice paper on the capital gains tax. Well worth giving it read.


This song is for the survivors. Not nice enough for you? Tough No Place For Sheep

    If you haven’t already heard Tim Minchin’s excoriating musical appeal to Cardinal George Pell, I’ve linked below. It’s called “Come home, Cardinal Pell” and it is everything you’d expect from a satirist and comedian of Minchin’s calibre. Father Frank Brennan, Jesuit priest and human rights lawyer, has accused Minchin of damaging survivors with his […]


EXCLUSIVE: Church victims seek leave to appear with Cardinal Pell in Rome Independent Australia

EXCLUSIVE: Church victims seek leave to appear with Cardinal Pell in RomeLawyers for Catholic Church sex abuse victims are applying to the Royal Commission for leave for their clients to appear with Cardinal Pell in Rome. Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence reports. read now...

Could a post-Scalia court give 99 per cent of Americans their country back? Independent Australia

Could a post-Scalia court give 99 per cent of Americans their country back?Could a post-Scalia court restore campaign finance sanity and pull back from plutocracy? Analyst Professor Juan Cole believes it could, giving 99 per cent of Americans their country back.  read now...


More Australian racism No Right Turn

How racist is Australia? They deny indigenous Australian MPs the right to use their own languages in their own Parliament:

A Northern Territory Aboriginal Minister has been denied permission to freely speak in her first language of Warlpiri in Parliament.

The failed request from Local Government Minister Bess Nungarrayi Price came after the central Australian MP was warned over disorderly conduct after she interjected in a parliamentary debate in Warlpiri, prompting NT Speaker Kezia Purick to declare that "the language of the assembly is English".

"Should a member use a language other than English without the leave of the assembly it will be ruled disorderly and the member will be required to withdraw the words," Ms Purick said in Parliament last December after receiving complaints from Labor MPs about Minister Price's Warlpiri interjection.

Late last week — in part prompted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaking an Aboriginal language in Parliament during his Closing the Gap address — Minister Price wrote to the Speaker challenging the Parliament's interpretation of its standing orders.

The Speaker refused the request, claiming that providing translators would be costly and the the Parliament followed the (racist, colonial) practice of all other Australian Parliaments in requiring business to be transacted only in English. Which is pretty much what racists here in New Zealand argued when people wanted to speak te reo in Parliament. But the use of indigenous languages in parliaments isn't about cost - its about dignity, about recognising that indigenous peoples are citizens and that their languages are valuable and have a role in public life. In New Zealand, we now have simultaneous translation, and te reo has become a regular part of o...


Fact checking the ABC on Pell Catallaxy Files

There is an almost sensible article on George Pell at The Drum:

The answer to this opprobrium is obvious: Pell has a proper excuse for not appearing in person. The Royal Commissioner, Peter McClellan QC, is not a softy and would have been well aware of the significance of his ruling. End of story.

Looked at that way, the anger directed at Pell may appear over-heated. After all, he isn’t not co-operating. He’s never been personally accused of abuse; the worst allegation against Pell himself is that he tried to bribe a victim to drop his complaint. OK, that’s pretty bad, but he’s categorically denied it already.

It might be argued that Pell is somewhat unfortunate in finding himself in the role of poster boy for the Catholic Church’s institutional response to child sexual abuse. Perhaps he’s copping more than his fair personal share of rhetorical abuse. A major reason for this is that, in all his public responses to this crisis, he has never demonstrated anything even approaching empathy or remorse.

But George Pell has been personally accused of abuse – an accusation that went nowhere. As the ABC reported at the time:

On Monday, Sydney’s Archbishop George Pell stood aside, pending an inquiry into one former altar boy’s claims that Dr Pell molested him at the same camp.

Doctor Pell has vigorously rejected the allegations against him as “lies”.

Strange that the ABC doesn’t report the outcome of that investigation.


From reptiles to ravens, physician heal thy sticky-beak self ... loon pond

The pond loves a bout of anal examination ...

Now some will be more excited at the way that the NBN is being primed for a bargain basement sale ...

Yes, but let's make sure it's properly valued and dirt cheap. 

After all, what would sensible folk pay for a jumble of faded copper and junk HFC and a bit of fibre and lots and lots of boxes in need of upgrading, as boxes are wont to need?



The TEC and whistleblower protections No Right Turn

Yesterday at select committee, the Tertiary Education Commission revealed that tertiary institutions had rorted it for $28 million. They also said that they couldn't protect whistleblowers who tipped them off to this fraud:

Mr Cunliffe also asked if the commission could protect whistleblowers who alerted it to potential fraud.

Mr Spencer replied that it could not.

"We're not their employer. We can give them protection in terms of what's available under the legislation but we couldn't say to the employer 'now don't sue them'. We can't do that, we don't have that ability," he said.

Mr Cunliffe later told RNZ News it was not good enough and the commission must do more.

"I would like to see them make a public commitment that if a whistleblower came forward to them that they would offer to treat them in confidence," he said.

Cunliffe clearly hasn't read the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. Section 19 of the Act requires agencies receiving a protected disclosure to treat it in confidence. If the TEC isn't doing this, they're breaking the law.

And they're not the only ones. According to the article, "a whistleblower who alerted the commission to proven problems at a tertiary institute was now being sued for bringing it into disrepute". Section 18 of the Act grants immunity from such suits. The Act also effectively forbids sacking whist...


Morrison divides the nation: National Press Club Independent Australia

Morrison divides the nation: National Press ClubTreasurer Scott Morrison's first National Press Club address gave us a series of clichés about China, some hollow boasts about job growth and his barren old hokey standby of "transitioning" the economy. David Tyler reports. read now...


A useful precedent No Right Turn

Remember ponytailgate? Prime Minister John Key repeatedly bullied and sexually harassed a cafe waitress, then when his pet dirty politics smear operative Rachel Glucina expose the victim as punishment for speaking out, publicly denied any involvement. Oddly though, when asked about it under the OIA, he clammed up, refusing to release any information because "it is not the practice of the media team or the Prime Minister to divulge details of the communications with journalists".

Well, it might not be the practice, but its the law, and (having lodged a request of my own specifically to generate an appealable refusal) I now have the Ombudsman's ruling to prove it. The key lines:

Further, the Ombudsman rejected the use of s9(2)(a) (privacy) and s9(2)(ba) (confidentiality) in this case, and noted that even if they had applied, they would have been trumped by the public interest. In my case, that means I get to know whether Key had communicated with Glucina about pony-tail pulling incident or victim (the answer to which, from the Ombudsman's ruling, appears to be "yes"). As for the original requester (who had complained as well), this should mean that they will be receiving the content of that communication shortly.

As for the supposed consequences on the relationship between Ministe...


Roundup 18 Feb Catallaxy Files

Mark Steyn is in the house!

Against the inequality warriors, getting a grip on the looters and moochers, rich and poor alike, who put us in the red .

Here’s an image a reader shared with me and it’s the perfect way to explain why the Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the class warriors are wrong.

The problem isn’t rich people. It’s looters and moochers, regardless of their income. What makes this image so helpful is that it’s true. If you look at the “right enemy” part of the image, the rich in the red zone are the cronyists who get Ex-Im subsidies, the Wall Street crowd that fed at the TARP trough, and other well-connected folks (like Warren Buffett) who use government coercion to line their pockets.

What we have is basically the visual that I would have liked to include in my 2011 column that discussed the “good rich” and the “bad rich.” When debating those who are motivated by class warfare, I’m defending the rich in the white zone, but it would be helpful to have a way of distinguishing between the worthy and unworthy people with money.

And the same is true for the non-rich. Most of them are good and decent folks earning an honest living and they belong in the white zone. But there are also some non-rich people who rely on government coercion. They could be overpaid government bureaucrats. They could be folks scamming the food stamp program or fraudsters bilking the EITC.

P.S. For what it’s worth, I suspect that more than 50 percent of the folks in Washington [and Canberra] belong in the red zone.

Reversing the innovation slowdown in the western world.



More injustice No Right Turn

Three years ago, then-Minister of Justice Judith Collins tossed away any pretence of justice over David Bain's case for compensation by throwing out an independent report on the issue because she didn't like the conclusions (and just to prove the point, leaking dirt to a sewerblogger in a further effort to smear the applicant). That caused a court case, and the government having to start the entire process from the beginning with yet another independent expert. And now that they've reported back, some of their conclusions have been leaked to the Herald, in what appears to be yet another attempt to undermine the case for compensation.

I don't actually have an opinion on David Bain's guilt or innocence - crime news bores me shitless. But I do have strong views on how the government should treat applications for compensation, and this is simply appalling. In fact, you almost have to ask whether Bain deserves compensation for the prolonged government campaign to undermine his bid for compensation...

Meanwhile, this is once again showing the problems with having politicians involved in approving compensation for miscarriages of justice. The obvious solution is to remove them from the loop, and replace the current system of ex gratia payments with a statutory one, so that people who are wrongfully convicted are automatically compensated. And if the politicians don't like the prospect of someone who is potentially guilty receiving a payout, maybe they should focus their efforts on reforming the police, so they actually do their jobs properly, rather than seeking to further punish the v...


Halal certification money from Army – must not fund the 190 Australian terrorist supporters being watched by ASIO: Lambie Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

JLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has called on the Liberal Government to give a guarantee that Halal certification money raised by the sale of food to our defence forces – has not found its way to the 190 Australian terrorist supporters who are being monitored and watched by ASIO.

“Last week in Senate Estimates committee hearings during the questioning of the chief of our spy agency – it was revealed that they were officially watching 190 Islamic Australians who were collaborators with our enemies in the Islamic state.

The ASIO chief told me that the 190 traitors were “raising funds, recruiting, exhorting young people to join the cause and espousing the virtues of the ISIL message.”  With yesterday’s stunning revelation that 1/3 of our Diggers’ combat rations are officially mandated Halal certified (while there are only 100 Islamic ADF members) – it’s now time for the government and its spy agencies to answer this simple question:

Is Halal certification money raised in Australia (including money the government has paid for ADF food) finding its way to terrorists?

It’s bad enough that there are plenty of Australian Diggers who for their own religious reasons, don’t want to eat Halal food – but will be forced to, or go hungry.

But this she’ll be right attitude – which surrounds the monitoring of known Australian terrorist supporters – and the source of their funds – has got to stop.  The last time ASIO monitored a known Islamic State terrorist supporter – we ended up with a Café siege in Sydney and the loss of 2 innocent lives.

If it’s good enough for the head of ASIO to reveal to parliament that they know 190 Australians are raising funds for the enemy – it’s good enough for the government to charge...


Puff the Magic Malcolm The Political Sword

The precipitous ejection of Australia’s worst-ever prime minister last year brought such a sense of relief to the electorate that the arrival of Malcolm Turnbull in his place gave him the status of a knight in shining armour rescuing the damsel in distress. Even some who support Labor were not just relieved, but pleased. He looked like a prime minister and he spoke like one with measured eloquence. His urbanity had popular appeal, his smile was engaging and the way he handled criticism stylish. We no longer felt embarrassed by our prime minister. Most important though was his stated vision for this nation: it was upbeat, forward-looking, encouraging and exciting.

Those of us who have followed politics for many years had reservations though. We remembered how after his rather brutal takeover from Brendan Nelson to become Leader of the Opposition in 2008, he offered much promise to his party and to the electorate. Many applauded particularly his enlightened views on global warming and his collaboration with Kevin Rudd to mitigate it. But after a promising start, an ill-considered instance of over-reach brought him undone. Failing to do the due diligence required of an accomplished barrister, a disturbed Liberal mole in Treasury, Godwin Grech, led him up the garden path with a fake email. He remained there, stranded and exposed as one too obsessed with bringing down a prime minister and his treasurer. ‘Utegate’ uncovered a fatal flaw in Turnbull’s personality. He did not recover fully until he removed Abbott in September last year.

But everyone knows that to garner the votes he needed to replace th...


Misogyny: Alive and well under Turnbull (Part 2) Independent Australia

Misogyny: Alive and well under Turnbull (Part 2)In Part 2, John Haly completes his two-part study of misogyny in legislation (Part 1) and leadership which he concludes is alive and well under PM Turnbull. read now...


In which the mortified, apologetic pond swears fealty and loyalty to the authentically silly Dame Slap ... loon pond

(Alternative titles? Poodle staring at blank wall blankly? A void focussed on the infinite void?)

It goes without saying that it was absolutely remiss of the pond yesterday not to acknowledge Dame Slap's celebration of the need for a good, firm, hard man, like a Donald or a Barners ...

What can the pond do but offer mortified apologies and do its best to repair the damage.

Oh sure some might expect the pond to dally with the Bolter, still maintaining the rage on behalf of the Pellists ...

Oh how the pond's heart keens for the shamed, frightened, disgusted Bolter keening for the suffering of the Pellists ... what's wrong with people, carrying on about a bit of sexual molestation?

But be still, throbbing, pulsating heart, because the reptiles see Dame Slap as a promotional item in their loss leader branding strategy ...



Clarence Valley Council: do as we say, not as we do North Coast Voices

Clarence Valley residents have the magnifying glasses out and are playing a bit of a guessing game with the three illegally parked cars in the photo below.

I’m guessing two councillors and one general manager are in the mix.

The Clarence Forum can be found here.



Master Builders Association rather predictably bites back at Labor's negative gearing policy North Coast Voices

 Labor's policy.....

ABC News, 13 February 2016:

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has unveiled plans to change negative gearing rules for property purchases, in a move touted to "put the great Australian dream back within reach for the middle and working class".

Key points:

Wednesday, 17 February


Nuclear Royal Commission: What's Scarce in Kevin's Report Independent Australia

Nuclear Royal Commission: What's Scarce in Kevin's ReportThe Scarce Report recommends South Australia being storing the world's nuclear waste, opening the door for nuclear power generation in Australia in the future, writes Noel Wauchope. read now...


Refuting self-interested garbage in the SMH The Tally Room

In yesterday’s Herald, Heath Aston ran an ‘exclusive‘ publishing supposed modelling from a couple of so-called “veteran players in minor party preference negotiations” claiming that Senate GVT reform would deliver the Coalition a majority in the Senate.

There’s a lot of massive problems with this prediction, and I’ll try to lay them out.

At the end I will apply some of the same logic, but using real polling data and come up with my own less sensationalised conclusion, which suggests a Coalition win would lead to Xenophon balance of power, but if Labor recovered to a winnable position then the Greens would likely win the balance of power.

Firstly, sensible people should know not to trust the predictions of two people who are active participants in a system which Senate reform would abolish, particularly when they don’t provide the data or assumptions they used to come to their conclusions.

Firstly, it’s amusing how confident they are in their conclusions. Any sensible analyst would need to build in a high degree of uncertainty, due to polling, but also because we don’t know for certain how a new system will play out – how much preferences will flow, and how well the microparties will be able to cooperate.

We have no idea how much preferences will flow under a minimum-six-preference system. Will 5% exhaust? 20%? 50%? That makes a big difference, and in part will depend on how parties act.

It’s silly how confident these analysts are in predicting that the Greens would only win a single senator in WA, SA and NSW.

According to PollBludger’s quarterly state breakdowns of his BludgerTrack polling average, the Greens are currently sitting...

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