John Bjelke-Petersen endorsed as candidate for Callide
Palmer United Party Media Release [26/11/14]:
Federal Leader of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer, has announced John Bjelke-Petersen has been endorsed as Palmer United Party’s candidate for the Queensland state seat of Callide ahead of the next election.
A former Liberal National Party member and son of past Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, John will stand against current Callide member and Queensland Deputy Premier, Jeff Seeney.
Mr Palmer said John Bjelke-Petersen is a passionate advocate for the regional sector and possesses a strong personal knowledge of Callide and regional Queensland.
“Mr Bjelke-Petersen is a man of integrity who will put the people of Callide first and stand up for all regional Queenslanders,” Mr Palmer said.
“The current Member for Callide has all but forgotten his constituents and is too caught up with life in his ivory tower in George Street.”
Mr Bjelke-Petersen said all the current Queensland government stands for is selling off Queensland’s assets.
Campbell Newman has let Queensland down and Jeff Seeney has let the residents of Callide down, while regional Queensland has been all but forgotten,” Mr Bjelke-Petersen said.
“They have sold out the state by selling our schools and hospitals and have hung local industry and regional sectors out to dry. As the Palmer United Party candidate for Callide I will not stand for the sale of our assets.”
Canada: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters joined by Clayoquot protest veterans
Some veterans of the Clayquot Sound protests have joined the growing list of pipeline protesters arrested at the Kinder Morgan drilling site on Burnaby Mountain.
Protest veteran Karen Mahon says she and a few other veterans of the mass arrests on the West Coast of Vancouver Island are planning to get arrested at Burnaby Mountain east of Vancouver on Wednesday morning.
More than 900 protesters were arrested in 1993 as environmentalists fought to stop logging in the old growth of Clayquot Sound, making it at the time the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.
Oz now arresting IPCC report authors blockading coal. Prof Colin Butler at Maules Creek #leardblockade #endcoal
Image: @georgefwoods [26/11/14]
LNP’s rush to pass Bills illustrates why we must take Senate inquiry seriously
Lock The Gate [26/11/14]:
The LNP’s rush to placate big mining companies in State Parliament last night is more evidence of why Queenslanders must take the current Senate inquiry seriously.
The State Government’s proposed changes to the Water Reform and Other Legislation Bill favour mining companies over landholders and farmers, giving them unrestricted water use without the need for a water licence.
The proposed changes have received widespread criticism from farmers, local government, environmentalists, water experts and even the Queensland Resources Council.
Western Downs’ cattle producer, Lee McNicholl said: “This is the most treacherous sell-out in the history of the Queensland government of rural communities that depend on underground water.”
Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton said the LNP’s rush to pass such wide-ranging Bills that favour mining companies was more evidence of why the Senate hearings into the Queensland Government were so important.
“The Senate hearings provide a way of shining a light on the shenanigans and dodgy dealings between Queensland politicians and the big end of town,” Mr Hutton said.
“Queenslanders should not allow the likes of Senators O’Sullivan, McGrath and Macdonald to high-jack the hearings so that what is going on can continue to be swept under the carpet.”
The proposed changes:
Will give mining companies privileged status over the rest of Queensland;
Will mean water planning aimed at maintaining our precious groundwater will not apply to the water mining companies using it to get at the coal;
Will deplete vital Great Artesian Basin water aquifers through unsustainable dewatering;
Ignore the fact the no ‘make good agreement’ can cover the permanent loss of water;
Ignore the fact that mining companies already treat the ‘make good agreements’ with contempt;
Will be another nail in the coffin of the Great Barrier Reef.
“The Queensland Government is run by mining companies and the big end of town and the proposed changes reflect that,” he said.
The Senate hearings into Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration Related to Commonwealth Government Affairs continue in Brisbane on Friday.
The submission period has been extended to February 27 due to the high volume of submissions being received.
There was a bad accident involving a scooter on the corner of View Street and the Esplanade, Surfers Paradise today [26/11/14].
This was unreported because the Gold coast political and media establishment oppose the urgent need for traffic calming.
A mother and child have been taken to hospital after a freak two car crash at Ashmore.
The woman’s car was flipped onto its roof after it was T-boned outside Ashmore City Shopping Centre just after 3pm.
A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman told myGC the woman received a cut to her face and was suffering from shock.
Both her and her child of unknown age have been transported stable to Gold Coast University Hospital for assessment.
Emergency services are working to clear the wreckage, which is causing some delays on Currumburra Rd.
Two children have received cuts to their face and arms after the family crashed down an embankment in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Two adults and two children were inside the car at the time it left Gold Coast Springbroook Road at Neranwood just after 4.30pm.
The car came to a crashing halt down a steep embankment.
An ambulance spokesperson told myGC a male adult was complaining of back pain while two children were being treated for minor lacerations to their face and arms.
All emergency services remain on scene with the patients set to be transported to hospital by ambulance shortly.
There has been another accident between a car and tram on the Gold Coast – this time in Southport.
Early reports suggest the white vehicle and tram came to grief just outside Southport State School shortly after 10am.
It’s the second traffic collision to involve a Gold Coast tram in as many days.
There’s no further information available at this time.
The down section of the Toowoomba Range was temporarily closed after a car and truck collided. ... [Chronicle - 26/11/14]
Woman hit by truck, Dalby [Chronicle - 25/11/14]
Man dies after being pulled unconscious from pool
A man has died after being pulled unconscious from a swimming pool at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.
Police said friends discovered the 29-year-old in the pool at the Top of the Mark building on Orchid Ave just before 8pm (AEST) on Wednesday.
They retrieved him from the water, performed CPR and called an ambulance.
The man was taken to Gold Coast University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The event was not related to the Schoolies Week celebrations currently taking place in the Surfers Paradise precinct.
Queensland schoolie has lucky escape after balcony fall
Brisbane Times [26/11/14]:
A teenager has had a lucky escape after falling three storeys from a balcony during schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast.
The 17-year-old reportedly fell at a Palm Avenue hotel in Surfers Paradise early Wednesday.
He is believed to have suffered a broken arm but a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman wouldn't comment on the boy's injuries.
In 2012, Brisbane teenager Isabelle Colman died after she fell from a Surfers Paradise high-rise during that year's schoolies celebrations.
Dominatrix's death was self-defence, says accused
Brisbane Times [26/11/14]:
A former high school teacher says he acted in self-defence when he killed a "psychopathic" dominatrix who owed him money, a court has heard.
David John Hunt hit Angelia Michal Moore on the head with a metal bar and then strangled her when she attacked him at his home at Thornlands, east of Brisbane in September 2012, the Supreme Court in Brisbane heard on Wednesday.
He then drove her body to an uninhabited residential estate, where it was found in a car by police later that evening.
Mr Hunt, 45, has pleaded not guilty to her murder but guilty to interfering with her corpse.
In his opening address, prosecutor Dennis Kinsella said the pair had met online through a bondage website, and had dated for about six months before separating but carrying on their sexual trysts.
He said the court would hear evidence they had a "dysfunctional" and often "turbulent" relationship, and that they had previously come to the attention of police when Hunt tied Ms Moore up against her will and held her captive in what he claims was a consensual game.
Ms Moore denied consenting, but did not press charges.
Mr Kinsella said the exact circumstances of her death remain a mystery, but that the jury would be satisfied
Mr Hunt deliberately killed Ms Moore, who he claimed owed him $6000.
"There really are only two people who know the exact events - one of them is the accused and the other is dead," he said.
Mr Kinsella said Mr Hunt told police Ms Moore arrived at his home around 5pm on September 14, 2012, and attacked him when he asked for his money.
In his police interview and re-enactment Mr Hunt said he tried to fight her off with a metal bar.
He told police she had "crazy eyes" and threatened to kill him, so he held her down and strangled her for five minutes.
He then covered her body with a sleeping bag and waited until it was dark to try to cover his tracks.
Mr Kinsella said Mr Hunt told police he was terrified of Ms Moore because she had Mafia connections, links to an outlaw motorcycle group, and was a witch and a psychopath.
He said she had bragged about killing people in the past, and that he feared he would be next.
Mr Hunt's trial has been set down for eight days.
Health workers rally, Toowoomba
Health workers, scientists and dental officers will conduct a "peaceful lunch time gathering" in Clewley Park from 12.15pm today.
The public sector workers are protesting a State Government pay offer of 2.2%, which is 1% less than the consumer price index.
They are currently involved in negotiations with the government over pay and other issues including the proposed removal of clinical supervision allowance, a very small allowance that acknowledges the "above and beyond" function of supervising graduates in their practice.
The health workers also oppose the introduction of a hard barrier for progression where there was not previously one.
Together union representative Scott Parrington said the barrier would have the effect of discouraging health practitioners and dental officers from staying in the system.
The gathering is one of five taking place across Queensland.
Professions impacted by the dispute include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, social workers and psychologists.
Nine MSN [25/11/14]:
Medibank Private's first day as a publicly listed company went off without a hitch, and mum and dad investors walked away with a tidy profit.
The shares listed at $2.22 at midday, after thousands of retail investors bought the stock for $2 each.
This was a slight discount to the $2.15 price offered to institutional investors. The stock closed at $2.14.
Toll Group sale prompts fears for jobs, freight monopoly in remote NT [ABC - 25/11/14]
Tiger shark caught in drum line at Yeppoon
The Australian Marine Conservation Society has called for an end to shark nets and drum lines after a tiger shark died in Central Queensland.
Spokeswoman Tooni Mahto said it was sad to see the 3.3-metre beast be hauled away today after being caught in waters off Yeppoon.
"Lethal shark control programs are an archaic approach to dealing with the issue of preventing interactions between shark and humans," she said.
Ms Mahto said Western Australia had made progress to move away from lethal programs and the Premier of New South Wales had also shown an interest.
But there had not been a peep from Queensland, Ms Mahto said.
"With no scientific evidence to back up claims that lethal programs work, it as time to find real solutions that don't kill sharks but do have real benefits for improving public safety," Ms Mahto said.
"Shark nets and drum lines are ineffective, expensive, unnecessary and, frankly unacceptable in today's climate when shark populations themselves are in real trouble throughout our oceans."
Queensland is the only jurisdiction that uses shark nets and drum lines.
In the 12 months to August this year, 667 sharks including endangered species such as the great white and grey nurses were killed, figures from the Fisheries Department revealed.
About 100 dolphins, turtles and dugongs were also unintentionally killed.
Queensland's Fisheries Department sees the program as a success because only one person has been killed by a shark on a controlled beach since it has been running.
The department says nets are checked every two days so animals can be released and 100 per cent of whales and 93 per cent of turtles were successfully released alive last year.
Hundreds temporarily homeless after Melbourne's towering inferno
Nine MSN [25/11/14]:
Hundreds of residents have been evacuated from a Melbourne apartment block as a wall of flames 21 storeys high consumed the building.
The LaTrobe Street building caught on fire at 2.30am today.
The building's 500 residents, most of them in pyjamas, were evacuated to street level as the fire raged.
PNG: Five die in Rabaul shipping tragedy
PNG Loop [26/11/14]:
Five men are dead after entering an oxygen-starved compartment in a barge near Rabaul today.
They are believed to have dropped unconscious and lost their lives after entering the compartment for an inspection of damage to the bow.
But one man is believed to have survived after being given breathing help and heart resuscitation efforts.
Three were employees of the large construction company, Nivani Ltd, and two were men from Karavia village mid-way between Rabaul and Kokopo.
Nivani maintains a work base at Karavia as well as at its main operations at Takubar.
Nivani general manager David Stein told PNG Loop a short time ago that the deaths had come as a shock to all.
“The barge, the Colossus, had suffered some damage in a beach landing recently and I believe the men opened the hatch to one of the airtight compartments to inspect damage to the bow,’’ he said.
Cambodia: Fire Destroys Hundreds of Stalls at Historic Market
A fire tore through Phnom Penh’s Phsar Chas early Monday morning, incinerating hundreds of stalls in the historic market and damaging hundreds more before a fleet of fire trucks brought the blaze under control more than two hours later.
Phsar Chas, or “Old Market,” which was until Monday home to nearly 1,000 stalls and ringed daily by dozens of street vendors, had not yet opened when the fire broke out at its center shortly before 7:30 a.m.
Had the market been open, the flames would likely have taken many lives, said deputy municipal governor Khuong Sreng, who accompanied firefighters to the scene.
“We went to Phsar Chas this morning after the fire started, and I think that out of 914 stalls, more than 300 were destroyed, but there were no casualties,” Mr. Sreng said.
“Our main concern was to protect the lives of the vendors so we were not thinking about what caused the fire or the cost of the damage,” he said.
By the time firefighters arrived, the flames had spread to the east-facing front gate. Vendors rushed to salvage whatever stock they could.
Twenty-nine fire trucks from six different units circled the market, pumping out a total of 660 cubic meters of water to quell the inferno, according to Prum Yorn, chief of the National Police’s fire bureau.
Market fires break out regularly in Cambodia and are usually sparked by haphazard wiring and exacerbated by unenforced fire and safety regulations. In December 2012, eight people died in a fire that engulfed Siem Reap City’s popular night market.
“I appeal to vendors at all other markets to please be careful and make sure that your electrical wiring is safe and always have fire extinguishers in your stalls,” Mr. Yorn said.
Sann Sokleap, 38, whose jewelry shop inside the market survived the blaze, said a small fire broke out at about 6:30 a.m. but was quickly put out by market security guards. But when it flared up again, the flames quickly got out of control.
“I had been setting up, but when the fire spread, we ran out from the market to escape,” Ms. Sokleap said.
“My stall was saved, but my sister’s clothing shop was completely destroyed.”
Another vendor, Sok Leang, 42, said the clothing stall he had managed for more than 10 years had been gutted, his stock burned beyond salvaging.
“I’ve lost between $6,000 to $7,000 worth of clothing. I am in shock,” he said.
In a statement Monday, City Hall said the fire started in a part of the market where vendors sell mosquito nets, blankets, sheets and mattresses, all of which acted as kindling.
“[I]t was difficult to put out the fire initially because the stalls have aluminum roofs that made it difficult to direct the water down into the stall,” the statement said.
The statement also addressed rumors, circulating on social media Monday, that the fire was an act of arson intended to clear the market for development.
“City Hall rejects some of the public’s comments that someone secretly burned down the market so that it could be redeveloped,” it said.
The Old Market area, which sits on prime real estate just south of Wat Phnom between Norodom Boulevard and the riverside, has long been earmarked for potential redevelopment. In June, a Thai company proposed turning the site into an eight-story parking garage.
Municipal spokesman Long Dimanche said Monday no deal had been struck to redevelop the area.
“We do not have a plan to construct a new building on Phsar Chas and there is no private investment [to develop it] either,” he said.
Hundreds of people continued to pick through the still-smoldering debris Monday afternoon to retrieve what they could, while scavengers broke down metal structures and loaded them onto carts.
Sitting on a folding chair amid the rubble, district governor Kuoch Chamroeun said authorities would work throughout the night to clear the site, adding that the most recent count put the number of stalls lost to the fire at 229, with hundreds more damaged.
“We estimate losses of about $1.5 million,” he said. “The main thing now is to sort through the wreckage and see what can be salvaged so all the vendors can return and rebuild their shops again.”Queensland police shootings have not been raised by politicians in state parliament or the Senate or House of Representatives.
Media continue using domestic violence (which they also don't give a fuck about) to assist police with their PR problem.
WA Police don't shoot man during siege on stolen boat [ABC - 25/11/14]:
Negotiations have ended with a man in his 30s who was threatening police from a stolen boat off Rottnest Island.
The man had been armed with a flare gun while standing on a boat beached at Duck Rock near Thompson Bay.
The boat was towed back to North Port Marine by water police.
The man is believed to have mental health issues and has been taken to the Rottnest Nursing Post.
The incident is not related to leavers week. [WA's "schoolies"]
Media present savaging of teenager by police dog as heroic [WA Today -25/11/14]:
A 16-year-old boy from Rivervale, allegedly on the run from police, was nabbed by police dog Jimmy in Hamersley early on Tuesday.
Police say they received tip-off about a person believed to be breaking into cars along Eastwood Way about 12:35am.
A Dog Squad unit was the first to arrive and Jimmy was sent into the backyard to look for the offender.
According to police, a person was seen jumping fences and trying to run away but Jimmy was able to track the person's scent and indicated to handlers that someone was hiding near a trailer on Hornet Street.
A 16-year-old boy from Rivervale was found hiding under the trailer and was taken into custody and handed over to officers from Mirrabooka Police Station.
He has since been charged with three counts of attempted stealing, two counts of possessing stolen property and one count of breach of bail.
Michael Brown Sr.'s Church Burned in Ferguson [NBC - 25/11/14]
Ferguson protesters occupy Chicago's City Hall [Chicago Business - 25/11/14]
New York: Protesters Block Lincoln Tunnel, Shut Down FDR Drive Night After Ferguson Decision [CBS - 25/11/14]
New York: FUCK CNN! on CNN! [VIDEO - 25/11/14]
National Lawyers Guild Stands with People of Ferguson, Condemns Systematic Police Violence in Communities of Color [Media Release - 25/11/14]
Durbin to chair hearing on civil rights, Ferguson will be topic [Salt Lake Tribune - 25/11/14]
UN rights chief concerned over disproportionate killings of African-Americans by US police [Media Release - 25/11/14]
Israel-trained police “occupy” Missouri after killing of black youth [Electronic Intifada - 15/8/14]
Feel safe Queensland?
A Melbourne man has been extradited to Queensland over allegations he helped smuggle 2.5 tonnes of cannabis into Queensland using domestic airlines.
The 39-year-old arrived on the Gold Coast on Tuesday afternoon and was taken to the watch house. Police say he will appear before the Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
The man is the latest to be arrested in the aftermath of operation Kilo Zurich, which spanned 12 months to April this year and dismantled major smuggling operations.
Detectives allege one criminal syndicate transported an estimated $22.5 million worth of cannabis into Queensland.
The man was allegedly the group's connection to the cannabis producers.
He faces two counts of trafficking dangerous drugs, one of which has an element of aggravation under Queensland's Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment legislation.
The man could face an additional 15 years behind bars on top of any sentence he receives for the trafficking offences.
Police have charged 36 people as part of operation Kilo Zurich, including Joshua Thornbury, 30, and his older brother Terrence.
The brothers were allegedly the masterminds behind a syndicate that was ferrying cannabis from Victoria to Queensland using perfumed suitcases to mask the smell of the drugs and evade detection dogs.
Their matter will return to court on December 17.
North West Star [25/11/14]:
Mount Isa Police used tyre spikes to catch a wanted man travelling to the city from Cloncurry yesterday afternoon.
The vehicle burst into flames after it traveled over the tyre spikes. The man exited the vehicle and was not injured in the blaze.
Police intercepted the male driver 10 kilometres East of Mount Isa towards Cloncurry which caused the highway to be closed both ways.
Police attempts to stop the vehicle in Cloncurry were unsuccessful leaving Mount Isa Police to deploy tyre spikes on the highway.
Mount Isa Police Sergeant and District Crime Organiser Cath Purcell said police were informed the wanted man was travelling towards Mount Isa. It is unknown what offences the man was wanted by police for. The man was not from Cloncurry or Mount Isa.
“Police had information that the man was traveling through,” Sgt Purcell said.
“He was wanted for a number of serious offences and that he had failed to stop for police.”
“The tyre spikes were deployed in order to intercept the vehicle.”
“A male person was charged and will appear in court for a number of charges including evading police, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, unregistered vehicle and displaying false plates.”
Hollywood propaganda promotes shooting animals, cruelty
Nine MSN [25/11/14]:
Films and TV shows like Hunger Games and the Walking Dead have inspired reckless wannabe hunters to use bows and arrows to maim animals, many of which die in agony over several days.
The RSPCA says there has been a rise in the number of animals shot with arrows across Queensland over the past year.
The most recent incident - a pelican spotted with an arrow in its side at Lake Tinaroo, inland from Cairns - was reported to police on Tuesday morning.
Spokesman Michael Beatty suspects popular TV shows and films that have hunting themes such as Hunger Games, the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones may have inspired amateurs to take up the sport.
"It's always gone on but seems to be more prevalent," he told AAP.
"They don't stop to think of the suffering that they're going to cause the animal."
Unless a person is skilled in the practice, animals are often left injured and die in pain over a number of days.
At least 10 animals, including possums, magpies, wallabies, a kangaroo and even a horse, have been killed or maimed in Queensland in this way over the past year.
Most cases have been in the southeast and there is generally a spike over the school holidays.
Mr Beatty says attempts are being made to find the wounded pelican.
"If we can get it in time it might survive," he said.
There are no laws against hunting with a bow and arrow, but a person can be prosecuted if it can be proved the animal has suffered - a difficult task if the animal is dead, Mr Beatty says.
If we think you look shifty expect to be singled out for harassment and intimidation - and don't flinch - we might shoot you: Queensland Police
Shoot first and inquire afterwards, and if you make mistakes I will protect you.
Counter-terrorism law changes unnecessary, say top criminal lawyers: Changes to threshold from belief to suspicion ‘would allow police to be a little more trigger-happy’ [Guardian - 24/9/14]
There will be more armed police in public and pat-downs will become more frequent as part of a new state of "reduced tolerance" for suspicious behaviour in Queensland.
The Queensland Police Commissioner's warning comes after a "known terror suspect" was shot dead last night by police in Melbourne, as well as a number of counter-terrorism raids which took place south of Brisbane a fortnight ago.
Commissioner Ian Stewart said his officers would be nervous after last night's shooting and it was his duty to protect them, as well as the public.
"You will see officers regularly carrying their firearms more often than you would have seen in the past," he told 612 ABC Brisbane.
"It means when they pull people up or speak to people, they are probably going to ask people to submit to pat-down searches much more regularly.
"Our police are going to be noticeably alert and request people to be very compliant with their dealings with a lower tolerance to policing.
"Any little thing might be a key to how someone is about to react in a potentially bad way and our police will be on guard for those signs."
Commissioner Stewart said the hyped-up measures would not stop after the November G20 summit in Brisbane.
He again confirmed there had been no specific threat to Queenslanders or state assets.
Officers were also invited on Monday to apply to take their firearms home, however each application would be assessed individually.
"I'd be very sympathetic if there was a heightened risk for certain officers," he added.
Give police fascist powers and they will behave like fascists: I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me. [Washington Post - 19/8/14]
Queensland's political and media establishment don't care about the well being of the citizenry.
These new laws are about entrenching the police state.
Dealers who supply drugs that cause a death could soon face harsher penalties in Queensland.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says a bill being introduced to parliament on Wednesday means judges will have to consider if any deaths resulted from a drug deal.
He says that could lead to more serious charges being laid against dealers, such as manslaughter.
"Under Queensland laws at the moment, if you supply a drug which leads to a death, it's very hard to get charged for the death that results because of the drug supplied," Mr Bleijie told ABC radio.
"We're going to be changing that now, to give judges full discretion but also making sure that people are held responsible for their actions."
He said he hoped it would act as a deterrent.
"The drug dealers, they don't care about the pain and suffering they inflict on people. But they may think twice now about the consequences of someone dying because of them."
Do the Morcombes not want the justice system to make sure Daniel's killer has been captured?
... Denise Morcombe said the whole court process was an "absolute waste of taxpayers' money" as there was no doubt Cowan was guilty.
"Why has he got a chance to appeal? I mean know that's the law, but it's a waste of taxpayers' money - honestly," she said. ... [ABC - 26/11/14]
Lawyers for Brett Peter Cowan will argue he did not get a fair trial when he was convicted of the murder of schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.
The Court of Appeal in Brisbane will hear Cowan's case on Wednesday after he was sentenced in March to life with a non-parole period of 20 years.
A jury then found Cowan, 45, guilty of abducting and murdering the Sunshine Coast schoolboy.
Lawyers filed a notice of appeal against his murder conviction in April.
They are expected to argue the jury should have never heard his confession to undercover police.
He was convicted in part because of a recorded confession he made to police masquerading as gangsters before leading them to Daniel's burial site.
Lawyers are also expected to criticise what they say was biased media coverage of the trial.
Daniel, 13, was abducted in 2003 on Queensland's Sunshine Coast while waiting for a bus to go Christmas shopping.
The problem with 'Mr Big' confessions [ABC, Law Report - 26/8/14]
Canada’s top court weighs legal loopholes in Mr. Big sting operations [The Province - 15/5/14]
Pretty much symbolises how most of us feel about the media's journalistic standards
Phil Rudd gestures to media as he leaves court. Photo: GETTY IMAGES [RNZI - 26/11/14]
Trust in Mass Media Returns to All-Time Low [Gallup - 17/9/14]
Sun reporter tells court he was following instructions of News International’s most senior lawyer when he transcribed contents of MP’s stolen phone
Hacking Inquiry [25/11/14]:
Paying police was “within the rules of journalism” a senior Sun reporter testified today.
Nick Parker, who is on trial at London’s Old Bailey, made the comment while under cross-examination over charges which include paying a police officer for confidential information about an alleged assault by Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood.
The journalist confirmed that the policeman had supplied the address of two witnesses to the incident but told the jury: “I felt perfectly entitled to talk to a police officer as I was covered by the PCC code.”
Parker also defended his description of newspaper readers in one email as “plebs” saying this was a colloquial term used internally by reporters, adding: “it’s the Sun newspaper not the church times.”
He told the court that he felt the payments to the officer were justified as he was getting no information from the Surrey police press office saying: “if the story is in the public interest I have a degree of protection, my job as a journalist is to get the story.”
The reporter is also facing charges in connection with the theft of the mobile phone of Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh. Parker agreed today he had signed a contract offering £10,000 to co-defendant Michael Ankers if it contained any information that would lead to a front page story.
In a tense exchange with prosecution barrister Michael Porroy QC Parker admitted spending six hours transcribing the contents of the MP’s phone but told the court: “Its my job to take all of the information I get from a source and send it to the news-desk, I write it down and let them decide.”
Responding to a suggestion by Porroy that he was claiming to be a: “powerless, knowledgeless dummy” the journalist replied: “I’m was just the messenger, you are making me responsible for something, it was not my decision.”
Parker also claimed he had consulted with his companies head of legal affairs Tom Crone throughout the incident telling the jury: “I was following the instruction of most senior lawyer at News International. He made the decisions but is not in court today.” The reporter went on: “It’s run by the lawyers, it’s run by the senior management, it’s nothing to do with me.”
Also on trial are Lee Brockhouse, a prison officer at HMP Swaleside, and Michael Ankers. All three defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.
Sun reporter paid police officer for story about the aftermath of an alleged rape on a drunken woman by two Surrey police officers [Hacking Inquiry - 25/11/14]
Sun reporter bought a medical assessment of Yorkshire Ripper from Broadmoor health worker, court told [Hacking Inquiry - 25/11/14]
ALP won't say if they will reverse ABC cuts - ask members to donate to ABC "fighting fund"
WA Today [25/11/14]:
Labor is calling for donations to fight budget cuts at the ABC despite leader Bill Shorten's unwillingness to reverse the decision if he wins office.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has leapt on an interview Mr Shorten gave to ABC Statewide Drive in Victoria on Monday in which he criticised Mr Abbott's broken promise not to cut funding for the ABC or SBS.
Labor claims as much as $500 million has been slashed from the ABC's budget since the Abbott government won the 2013 election.
When asked if he would restore the money cut from the ABC's budget, Mr Shorten said "we don't think the cuts need to be as deep as they are, absolutely".
But Mr Shorten would not articulate whether a Labor government would reverse the cuts in full.
The opposition has said funding for public broadcasting would increase under a Labor government, but claimed it could not say by how much because it did not know what "the state of the ABC will be in 2016".
Earlier, the ALP emailed its members urging them to donate to an ABC "fighting fund" for a campaign targeting Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in his Sydney seat of Wentworth.
In a reference to the axing of state-based 7.30 programs, the email calls on members to donate $7.30 to help fund the campaign.
"The night before the last election, Tony Abbott promised 'no cuts to the ABC or the SBS'," the email says.
"But today, 1 in 10 jobs at the ABC were lost because of Tony Abbott's $500 million cut to the ABC and SBS. Five regional stations will be shut down and the state based 7.30 program will be cut.
"Malcolm Turnbull has desperately tried to explain that Tony Abbott's pre-election promise not to cut the ABC or SBS was not actually a promise!"
The email notes the campaign will bombard Mr Turnbull's office with calls to make sure he gets the message that Australians do not want to see public broadcasting cut.
Queensland Government Administration Committee
Evidently the unparliamentary behaviour of LNP senators at the Senate Inquiry into the Queensland Government remains unsanctioned?
Senate Hansard [25/11/14]:
Senator LAZARUS (Queensland—Leader of the Palmer United Party in the Senate) (15:36): I seek leave to move a motion to enable the Queensland Government Administration Committee to meet during the sitting of the Senate today.
Leave not granted.
Government trashes traditions of Parliament. Need to draw line in the sand. ..."tweeted" by @SenChrisKetter - ALP Senator Chris Ketter re behaviour at Senate Inquiry into Queensland Government [20/11/14]
Palmer United saves Australian National Preventative Health Agency
Glenn Lazarus MP [26/11/14]:
Palmer United Senator for Queensland and Leader of Palmer United in the Senate, Glenn Lazarus, this week voted along with his colleague Senator Dio Wang, to oppose the abolition of the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (ANPHA).
Palmer United held the balance of power in the Australian Senate to determine the future of ANPHA.
"Australia is one of the fattest countries in the world and this is creating significant issues across our population and placing enormous strain on our health system," Senator Glenn Lazarus said today.
"Australia is facing a diabetes pandemic.
"According to Diabetes Australia, an estimated 280 Australians develop diabetes every day.
"The diminishing health of our population is a serious issue which requires a nationally coordinated multi-faceted response.
"We urgently need to address the declining health of our people and develop national solutions to turn the problem around.
"We need solutions which are national and multi-agency oriented.
"ANPHA was established to deliver this level of response.
LNP rejects changes to Tertiary Transport Concession Card
Alex Douglas MP [25/11/14]:
Campbell Newman’s LNP Government is determined to keep tertiary students off public transport until they successfully negotiate all obstacles set up by the Transport Minister, Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas said today.
“I’m disappointed the government has dismissed my suggestion that interim receipts be issued whilst Tertiary Transport Concession Cards are being processed,” he said.
“I requested the Transport Minister to consider the issuing of interim receipts to alleviate issues when students are stopped by transport inspectors and given warnings when travelling without TTCCs which are being processed.
“The Assistant Minister for Public Transport has rejected my suggestion, saying that until the application is assessed, the department cannot guarantee that the eligibility criteria is met and therefore, interim receipts cannot be issued.
“I cited the case of a young constituent who sought my assistance recently after she received a warning, six weeks after she had applied for a TTCC.
“The issue of the warning and behaviour of the transport inspector caused untold grief to her, even to the stage where she no longer wanted to use public transport because of the stress it had caused.
“If she had been able to produce an interim receipt, as I advocated, she would not have had to suffer such anxiety.
“The Assistant Minister told me that the current processing time with contracted card suppliers for accurately completed applications is less than ten business days, excluding postage times, but I’m sure this will spiral out once university goes back early next year.”
All tertiary/post secondary students in Queensland are required to have the new TTCC as proof of eligibility to purchase and travel on a concession go card or concession paper ticket.
Queensland Parliament Hansard [25/11/14]:
Mrs CUNNINGHAM [IND - Gladstone]: My question without notice is to the Treasurer. In relation to the proposed long-term lease of the Gladstone Ports Corporation and the resultant funds available to the government if it is re-elected, will the Treasurer give an assurance to Gladstone residents that their greatest concern is addressed in that process—that is, a rebuilt hospital for Gladstone so as to provide better health services to all local residents?
Mr NICHOLLS: *BLURT*
Australian Tax Office slashes 4700 staff, brings in $250,000-a-year spin doctor
Canberra Times [25/11/14]:
The Australian Tax Office is hiring a $250,000-a-year media wrangler to sell the idea revenue collection will not fall but its own figures show each of the 4700 staff walking out the door collect an average of $23 million in taxes.
Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan's newest senior executive will respond to "high profile, high risk" media enquiries and craft the single most important message the organisation needs to send to the public: that cutbacks to staff numbers will not have any "material impact" on revenue collection.
The ATO's assistant commissioner of public affairs will help Commissioner Jordan brief Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann on tax collection which needs to be maintained even though 3000 staff left by October and another 1700 were scheduled to go.
An ATO spokeswoman said it was an existing position currently occupied under acting arrangements due to a permanent transfer out of the role.
Selling the idea tax revenue will not be hurt as staff numbers are slashed could be a hire wire act. ATO figures used in a report tabled in the House of Representatives on Monday show each Tax Office employee represents $23.58 million of tax collected - many millions of dollars more than agents in three comparable first-world nations.
ATO employees collect on average $10 million more revenue than counterparts in the United Kingdom ($14.7 million), New Zealand ($14 million) and Ireland ($13 million).
Australia's "gross revenue collected per staff member" figure was also almost on par with Norway ($25.9 million) and Denmark ($25.2 million).
The original source of the comparison table is the OECD's Forum on Tax Administration.
The ATO provided the figures to the committee to show how Australia's cost of tax collection had improved in recent years.
But top Tax Office bureaucrats do not want the figures used to argue revenue collection will drop when staff numbers are slashed.
The report by parliament's standing committee on tax and revenue quoted the ATO's second commissioner Neil Olesen who was confident tax collection - so vital when the Abbott government was trying to find savings everywhere - would not be hurt.
Mr Olesen said it was a "simplistic view that you just divide the revenue base by the number of officers in the organisation and that equates to revenue per head of the person working in the organisation".
"That is just not how it works," he said.
"The variety of functions that people do, the variety of risks they might address, the kind of work they do varies enormously.
"You certainly cannot apply a simplistic average to every person and say that for everyone who works in the organisation they bring in this amount of money."
The latest available figures which could be compared showed that in 2011 Australia collected $361.3 billion with 18,196 full time equivalent staff.
Staff numbers and revenue collection have increased since then.
The number of ATO staff was now about 20,000 and collected $419 billion in gross tax last financial year.
This puts the gross revenue collected per staff member at a lower $21 million but it would not yet be known how other nations have fluctuated in that time.
Transnational tax minimisation has become an issue in recent years which many countries have been grappling with.
Other indicators also showed the ATO's performance had improved markedly in the past decade.
The cost of collection relative to gross revenue had decreased from 84 cents in every $100 collected in 2005 to 71c per $100 collected in 2013.
In 2013, 0.18 per cent of GDP was spent on collecting taxes compared to 0.23 per cent in 2005.
26 November 2014