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Friday, 11 March


Australian Federal Election 2016: and the slurs begin..... North Coast Voices

The federal election writs haven’t been issued yet and there was Robert Bou-Hamdan aka Big Rob on his "Lismore Radio" Facebook page scattering aspersions:

It seems unusual that the former MP, who states her strong opposition to coal seam gas locally and who should understand the need for Australia to secure its oil and gas needs into the future, would be working so hard for another country against us while also running as the Labor candidate for the seat of Page - a role designed to represent and protect our interests both locally, nationally and Internationally.
What information is the former MP providing to Timor-Leste as their Senior Legal Adviser?

Oh dear, it’s apparently ‘treason’ time at Big Rob’s place where he seems to be offended by the notion that a lawyer before entering politics should return to that same profession after losing at the 2013 federal election.

As for being "their Senior Legal Adviser" -  i...


This was Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's NBN promise to the Australian people during the 2013 federal election campaign North Coast Voices

This was then Australian Communications Minister Malcom Bligh Turnbull’s promise to voters during the 2013 federal election campaign:

On 12 December 2013, less than three months after the Liberal-Nationals Coalition won government, ITnews reported:

the Coalition's own pre-election pledges proved overly optimistic, with costs expected to come in at "around" $41 billion rather than the promised $29.5 billion.

The 2016 forecast to bring 25 Mbps to all Australians has also been canned. Instead, the Coalition predicts it will be able to bring download speeds of up to 25 Mbps to 43...

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Thursday, 10 March


Jon English: A rock star life Independent Australia

Jon English: A rock star lifePopular and versatile entertainer Jon English – renowned for always living his life like a rock star – has died from surgery complications. He was 66. read now...


Mocking Darth Vader Catallaxy Files

Absolute sacrilege – they used footage from the Lucas re-release abominations.


Pulling the rug from underneath Catallaxy Files

This is a quote from Alan Jones via Andrew Bolt. The “he” here is Malcolm Turnbull:

I might add he asked me to talk to Tony about it and I did. Malcolm was always ringing around on anything that might pull the rug from underneath Tony Abbott. The point is Malcolm Turnbull’s now Prime Minister and he’s doing exactly what he criticised Tony Abbott for doing…. Malcolm Turnbull seems in government to have been struck with rigamortis. But as I said, when Tony Abbott announced a plebiscite, Malcolm Turnbull’s opposed to [this] and rang me to express that opposition.

It is just said so nonchalantly, hardly worth mentioning, really. What else would anyone do? That Malcolm asks anyone for loyalty demonstrates how lacking in insight he is.


Work for Freedom, don’t just talk about it Catallaxy Files

The IPA is hiring!

We’re expanding to make sure we continue to be Australia’s loudest voice for liberty and free market values. Join our team! Here’s what we’re looking for:
We are seeking a number of energetic, passionate and experienced researchers for two large new projects:
A project on criminal justice. A project on regulation and red tape.
More info here.
We are seeking an energetic and passionate candidate for full-time role of Graphic Designer and Digital Coordinator. In this role you will help grow the IPA by producing a range of digital and print content.
More info here.
We are seeking an energetic and passionate candidate for full-time role of videographer. In this role you will produce engaging videos for distribution through owned channels and via the mass media.
More info here.
We are seeking an energetic, passionate and experience media and communications manager for an exciting new research and policy advocacy project.
More info...


A look back at Deputy-Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce North Coast Voices

Now that Tony Windsor has announced he will stand at the 2016 federal election as an independent candidate in the New England electorate, it is perhaps time to briefly recap Nationals MP for New England and Deputy-Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s position on some of the issues which may be at play for voters in that seat or go to perceptions of his gravitas or otherwise.

Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce entered the Australian Parliament in 2005 as a senator for Queensland and resigned to contest the NSW seat of New England in 2013, a seat which was vacant due to retirement of its member Tony Windsor.

Until September 2013 he was a member of the Opposition.

A  former accountant, he is a man of property with a residence and commercial property in St. George, Queensland and two rural properties in Barradine on the Liverpool Plains, NSW.

In the first half of last year taxpayers spent ...


New England, sir?! You cad, you Barners bounder ... loon pond

Please, no hissing in the back row at that hideous symbol ... this is just between the pond and Barners.

You see, this very day the pond happened to hear Barners trying to score a political point, boasting how he'd stayed in New England to talk of politics while Tony Windsor had gone to Canberra to announce his bid.

And yet the bare-faced, blow-in fraud had the cheek to say those fatal words while standing in the streets of noble Tamworth ...

Now as everyone knows, Tamworth is in the seat of New England. 

But it has never bowed to the dominance of New Englanders, ensconced on the northern tablelands, with their town and gown university, and their arty crafty pretensions and their laughable attempts at cathedrals.

These dangerous folks, mortal enemies of Tamworthians for over a century, live on the northern tablelands, amongst apple growers and such like weirdness.

Tamworth is situated on the north west slopes and plains, and is populated by a hardy breed of commercial warriors. 

Fie to you Armidaleans, with your reliance on...


Tony, Peta and Niki — and the silence of the press gallery Independent Australia

Tony, Peta and Niki — and the silence of the press galleryThe most significant messages from the latest political exposé The Road to Ruin released this week have been ignored by the mainstream media. Alan Austin reports. read now...


Ombudsman says agencies should discriminate against journalists No Right Turn

Today the Ombudsman released new guidance for handling OIA requests made online. Its a useful document for agencies faced with requests being made through Twitter, Facebook, and FYI, covering things like when requests are received (the moment they hit your inbox or timeline), eligibility ("the eligibility requirement is not about imposing unnecessary barriers to legitimate requests", which is Ombudsman for "don't be a dick"), and whether you should respond electronicly (yes). However, there's also an FYI-specific section on how the prospect of online publication should affect decision-making around requests:

The fact that information will be published online is not a reason in itself for refusing a request
for official information. Publication of information released in response to official information
requests has always been a possibility. Agencies have never been able to control what a requester does with the information they receive (unless there is a valid basis for imposing conditions). However, it may be one factor to take into account in considering whether or not there is good reason to withhold the information.

On the one hand, it is possible that online publication of the information may be more likely to cause prejudice to the interests protected by the withholding grounds. For instance, online publication may be more likely to impinge on the privacy of natural persons, or to unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of a third party, than release to a particular requester with conditions where necessary.

[Emphasis added]

This seems to be a significant and troubling departure from the principles and wording of the Act. The OIA is supposed to be requester-blind; who requests information and what they want to do wi...


What the mainstream media misses Catallaxy Files

Maurice Newman has a post this morning on What the media missed: if not Donald Trump, it’d be another. It is about as pro-Trump as you are likely to find in Australia – aside from here. It’s not as if he says this is the man to vote for because he is far and away the best person for the job. It’s more tepid, but still:

What the mainstream media misses is that a very large number of Americans, and especially Trump supporters, have had enough of the establishment’s political dynasties.

They reject political correctness, illegal migration and the crony capitalists who use Wall Street to make a fortune at their expense, particularly when their incomes are basically frozen. They believe the government manipulates the unemployment numbers and, as they struggle to find and hold permanent jobs, they know welfare cheats and disability fraudsters are gaming the system with impunity. They see government waste everywhere and think Obamacare is a failure. They resent President Barack Obama’s condescending lectures and his use of moral equivalence when comparing Islam to Christianity.

They are mad as hell.

It would be better if he said “we” are mad as hell, but the idea is right. If you want someone who says all that, then you have to go to John Voit.

It is true that we Americans have been part of Donald Trump’s life for many years. We were part of his weddings. We were there to see all his children’s births. We were part of his great shows: Miss Universe, The Apprentice — and all know, without...


Natural disasters in Australia to cost $33 billion per year by 2050 Independent Australia

Natural disasters in Australia to cost $33 billion per year by 2050Dr Anthony Horton looks at the escalating frequency of natural disasters and the economic consequences as outlined in a recent Deloitte Access Economics report. read now...


Queensland council election – ward map completed The Tally Room

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 12.55.00 pmIt’s only nine days now until Queenslanders vote for their councils for the next four years (along with a referendum on fixed four-year terms for the state parliament), and I’ve finally finished my Google Earth map of the ward boundaries.

Sixteen councils have changed their divisional or ward boundaries since the 2012 election. Four of these are councils which have changed their external boundaries due to the reversal of a pre-2012 council amalgamation: Cairns, Tablelands, Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton. The restored councils which took in parts of those four, respectively Douglas, Mareeba, Noosa and Livingstone, will all elect their councillors at large without any wards.

The other twelve councils to change their wards are Banana, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Ipswich, Isaac, Logan, Moreton Bay, Redland, Scenic Rim, Townsville and Whitsunday.

You can download the map here.

I’m now focusing all of my attention on preparing my guide to the 2016 federal election, with seat guides due to start appearing in April. I’ll likely return with a small amount of analysis of the results of the QLD election and referendum after March 19, but apart from that I’ll be keeping my head down working on the federal election.


A reasonable prejudice No Right Turn

MBIE is in the middle of a scandal over its payroll system which has seen the Ministry systematically underpay its employees. Which naturally invites the question of "who wrote this shit software?" Unfortunately, MBIE won't say:

The Government is refusing to name the supplier of a ministry payroll system after potentially thousands of state servants were underpaid.

This week the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) confirmed it had underpaid staff, potentially for up to 10 years, because of an error calculating holiday and shift entitlements.

A spokeswoman for Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, who is responsible for MBIE, said releasing the name of the supplier was the ministry's call.

But it has refused to name the provider, after treating Stuff's query formally as an Official Information Act request, saying it "would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the person who is the subject matter of the information".

There's no question that naming the supplier of a failed payroll system would be likely to prejudice their commercial position. But "unreasonably"? Really?

If a company makes a shit product, they deserve to be named and shamed for it. If this drives them out of business, maybe they shouldn't have made a shit product. This isn't "unreasonable" - it's how markets are supposed to operate. MBIE's position is that of a captive agency, protecting incompetent businesses which violate basic market standards. And when they're the agency responsible for consumer protection law,...


Focus, people, focus, or how to pay attention to a Sheehan slaying and a Savva savaging all in the one breath ... loon pond

(And more essential Popery here).

Distractions, distractions ...

Focus people, focus. How are we going to handle an agile, innovative century if we keep getting distracted ...?

There's the Pope and the reptiles of Oz trying to draw the pond into original sin by thinking of the Massacre at Werris Creek, a legendary affair which saw an intruding Bunyip slaughtered by a Billabong ... (well not by the Billabong, but by the Billabong).

They swear it's true up Tamworth way ... and apparently some natives are interested in restoring the pond's home town to its status as centre of the known universe, and country music too ...

Then there was the pond reader that drew the pond's attention to the spiffing read, Lessons from Louise: the story of Paul Sheehan and the Sydney Morning Herald, by Richard Cooke ...

The pond was entranced, transfixed.

There was the bigotry and bile of the Louise story itself, and the epic failure of the newspaper, but as a bonus there were also matters such as the Punta Del Este affair, and then there was the black v...


Nauru is not safe for refugees No Right Turn

Another day, another assault on a refugee on Nauru - this time with a machete:

An Iranian refugee at Nauru claims he was slashed in the head with a large knife normally used to cut down coconuts, in an alleged attack that raises further doubt over of the safety of refugees on the island.


He claims to have lost about one litre of blood and attended hospital, where he received multiple stitches. Photos purportedly of the alleged victim show a long gash along the back of his head.

The refugee said he called police later that night and was told to attend the police station another day.

The man said the alleged attackers returned to his home the following night, and he escaped by locking himself inside. He claims to have later made a statement to police reporting both incidents. An unverified copy of this statement, dated March 7, has been sighted by Fairfax Media.

The Nauruan police, in accordance with their publicly announced policy, are claiming that there was no assault and the claim has been made "made for media exposure only and has no basis". But the Sydney Morning Herald has photos documenting the injuries.

This is the "safe third country" Australia uses as its gulag: one where refugees are effectively beyond the protection of the law and can be attacked with impunity.


Obama's hypocrisy on freedom of information No Right Turn

The Obama Administration claims to be the most transparent Presidency ever. It even issued a memo in 2009 instructing government agencies to be more open to FOIA requests. But when legislators took the President at his word and tried to enact those instructions into law, Obama secretly opposed them:

In a move open government advocates are calling “ludicrous”, the administration “strongly opposed” the passage of bipartisan Freedom of Information Act (Foia) reform behind closed doors in 2014. The bill was a modest and uncontroversial piece of legislation which attempted to modernize the law for the internet age and codify President Obama’s 2009 memo directing federal agencies to adopt a “presumption of openness”.

Through a Foia lawsuit, the Freedom of the Press Foundation (the organization I work for) obtained a six-page talking points memo that the Justice Department distributed to House members protesting virtually every aspect of the proposed legislation in incredibly harsh language – despite the fact that some of the provisions were based almost word-for-word on the Justice Department’s own supposed policy...

Worse, Vice’s Jason Leopold is also reporting that the administration is conducting similar lobbying efforts around this year’s attempt to reform Foia in time for the law’s 50th anniversary this summer.

And naturally, they had to sue to extract this information from a government which wanted to keep its hypocrisy secret.

The full horror story is here.


Disaster Capitalism documentary selected for prestigious Hot Docs festival Antony Loewenstein

For over four years I’ve been working on the documentary, Disaster Capitalism. I was shooting footage myself when I started researching the book that eventually became my recent Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out Of Catastrophe. I partnered with New York film-maker Thor Neureiter in 2012 (and Norwegian film-maker Spencer Austad has shot some amazing footage around the world). The film features Afghanistan, Haiti and Papua New Guinea and issues related to aid, development and resources.

We’ve just been selected to participate in Hot Docs in Toronto in May, one of the most prestigious documentary film festivals in the world. One of 19 films (out of more than 200 submitted), we’ll be pitching the film for funding, distribution and support.

Please like the film on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Here’s our constantly updated website.

Over the years we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign (here’s the latest update), received support from philanthropists Bertha (backers of Oscar nominated Dirty Wars and ...


Gas supplies threatened by regulatory intrusion Catallaxy Files

Last year the then Minister for small business, Bruce Billson, asked the ACCC to review the east coast gas supply to determine if there is any anti-competitive behaviour evident and if players are exercising market power.  The minister wanted to get cheap product for downstream users.  The ACCC, aside from a proclivity to find market power under any stone it turns, is under Rod Sims who is a long standing ALP bureaucrat and an exponent of government controls.

So we have a heady brew.

The problem with these sorts of inquiries is that they examine a successful pipeline, see what it costs to operate and voila! they demonstrate it is earning too much money because it is overcharging for use and/or is denying access to alternative suppliers or to new buyers.

Such an analysis assumes a pipeline has been built.  But pipeline development is risky: among the questions to be asked are, is the product present, is the market there, what are the competitive threats?  The pipeline builder needs to obtain financing and the banks will want assurances that these questions are answered in ways that protect their own risk.  The pipeline operator will therefor sign contracts with gas producers to waive before the banks.  In some cases those producers will want to minimise the surprises of the pipeline suddenly flooding its target markets with new supplies that undercut their own economics and therefore they will insist on exclusively contracting a portion of the pipeline.  Alternatively or additionally, the foundation suppliers will normally be guaranteed some favourable rate structure over those who come later.

The outcome will be pressure on the successful pipeline to lower prices or undertake some capacity expansion that allows new customers.  One model is the long-established Victorian Bass Strait pipeline system where a form of common carriage is...


The 2016 Defence White Paper: A missed opportunity Independent Australia

The 2016 Defence White Paper: A missed opportunityThe 2016 Defence White Paper harks back to a bygone era of Cold War tactics and containment policies, and places Australia on perilous ground with China. read now...


Call that the return of the living dead? How about the return of the living Moorice? loon pond

Forget all that idle chatter about the Werris Creek Mauler v Barners the Utterly Brilliant ...

Forget the years of hell the Daily Terrorists put the country through in the cause of the wall puncher. Their grave sins and crimes against humanity will be punished in due course ...

Forget the Murdochian Sun dragging the Queen into Brexit ...

Oh Rupert, oh Rupert, just married, and already acting like a tree-killer slut ...

But forget all that, because Maurice has spoken, on matters significant to all in the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world ...



Australian Federal Election 2016: we'll all be rooned! North Coast Voices

Ever since Labor released the outline of its negative gearing and capital gains tax reform policy, both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have been thundering on about the catastrophic consequences which would result.

Apparently if implemented this policy will be like one of the seven plagues of Egypt sent to decimate the wealth of the chosen ones.

Malcolm Turnbull telling voters that “every homeowner in Australia has a lot to fear from Bill Shorten” and that removing negative gearing will “smash the residential housing market”While ...


In which Australian Attorney-General George Brandis pushes the point that Macolm Turnbull is just like Tony Abbott and Mungo agrees North Coast Voices

Image of Tony Abbott (left) & Malcolm Turnbull  (right) found at ABC The Drum

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis being interviewed on Australian Agenda, 6 March 2016:  

Well I wouldn’t adopt that metaphor and I must confess I haven’t read Mr Abbott’s Quadrant article but the point I want to emphasise to you and to your viewers Peter is that Mr Abbott speaks from within the heartland of the Liberal Party, as does Mr Turnbull. They both want the same thing. They both have fundamentally the same approach to public policy.

Wednesday, 09 March


The worst kind of political journalism Press gallery reform

No political journalism can ever be good if it patronises the people to whom it reports.

Politicians regularly call press conferences for journalists to ask questions. Mostly, their questions are inane - rather than ask better questions, press gallery journalists simply petition the ABC (the network that most often carries live press conferences) to muffle the often silly and ill-considered questions they ask. They usually seek to reinforce a narrative which does not relate to the subject-matter at hand, which is why politicians get a perverse pride in not answering questions or reading slabs from the very press release which initiated the press conferences in the first place.

Politicians almost never convene people for the purposes of asking questions. Some state governments, and the Gillard government, held community Cabinet meetings where they often fielded better and more pertinent questions than the press gallery ever could.

This is patronising garbage. The journalist seriously believes that interrupting a press conference to talk to a politician is some sort of breach of etiquette, and that people should just sit back and consume whatever drivel the media pumps at them.

Here's what happened: the Prime Minister was in Whyalla and someone came up to talk to him. End of.

Any time I have to do my own editing and presentation of a story, the journalist has failed. It's not that the journalist has presented the story in a different-but-equally-valid way, or using some superior journalism imperceptible to those of us who've never lolled about in a newsroom: the wanker who wrote this seriously believes that only journalists may question politicians in public.

Despite the best of preparations and the fullest of precautions, eve...


Game-changer: Sanders achieves 'upset of almost unheard of proportions' Independent Australia

Game-changer: Sanders achieves 'upset of almost unheard of proportions'Bernie Sanders defies naysayers, pundits and polls by delivering an unprecedented primary win in the bellwether state of Michigan. read now...

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