Thursday, 17 August 2017

The NSW Northern Rivers have been asking for a fair go for decades

                          
To be filed under The more thing change the more things stay the same……….

Saturday, 7 March 1931

Trove, retrieved 13 August 2017

And so the vileness begins


HuffPost, 10 August 2017:

"In less than 48 hours the Prime Minister has gone from promising to call out extreme voices to guaranteeing their view. He calls that strong leadership. Strong leaders do not need to say I am a strong leader. They prove it with their actions."
Shorten's stunning rebuke of the Government's policy comes after reports the postal vote may be susceptible to voter fraud and that people living overseas or in rural or remote areas may find it difficult to get their vote counted.
Labor and the Greens have been leading the charge against the plebiscite in the parliament, and the day after his senior colleague Penny Wong delivered a scathing rebuke to the voluntary postal vote, Shorten himself rose in the House of Representatives to deal a stinging speech of his own.
Shorten directed his anger squarely at the PM during an impassioned plea for Australians to vote "yes".
While Turnbull has repeatedly said he is a supporter of marriage equality, he's also repeatedly stuck with his predecessor Tony Abbott's policy of a plebiscite on the reform.
He's maintained that position despite multiple LGBTQ advocates and mental health experts (hereherehere and here) demonstrating that a plebiscite would be accompanied by a harmful public debate which may further marginalise the gay community.

It is not hard to find the predicted vileness. Within hours of Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement and Tony Abbott’s anti-marriage equality presser it was popping up on the Internet on social media, in chatrooms and online forums.

I am not going to link to examples as some of those Neanderthal comments are explicit and all are distressing in their ignorance or open hate.

For some politically insane reason Turnbull & Co don’t seem to think they will be publicly called out over their actions.

In this belief they are wrong.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Members and Senators of the Australian Parliament: you had one job to do.......


COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT - SECT 44

Disqualification

                   Any person who:

                      (i)  is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or

                     (ii)  is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or

                    (iii)  is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or

                    (iv)  holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or

                     (v)  has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

                   But subsection (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen's Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen's navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth. [AustLII, Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia, July 1900]

When nominating to stand as a candidate at a federal general election or a by-election the Australian Electoral Commission supplies all prospective candidates with a 51 page handbook, titled “Candidates Handbook: Federal elections By-elections”.

The intent of this handbook is to explain the steps you will need to take to qualify as a candidate and to comply with the law before, during and after an election.

On Page 8 of the May 2016 edition of the handbook candidates are supplied with a “Checklist”.

The third point on that 15 point checklist is:

I have confirmed that I am qualified to nominate.

Pages 13 to 14 clearly set out “Disqualification under the Constitution” and states:

You are required to sign a declaration on the nomination form that you are qualified under the Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth to be elected to the Commonwealth Parliament. If you have any doubts as to your qualifications under the Constitution, the AEC recommends you seek your own legal advice. The AEC does not provide legal advice to prospective candidates.

On 14 August Member for New England, Leader of the National Party of Australia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, became the fifth sitting member to announce that he had only now discovered he holds dual citizenship.

According to Michelle Grattan writing in The Conversation on 15 August 2017 Joyce’s dual citizenship came to light after two lines of inquiry in New Zealand: questions from Fairfax Media, and a blogger, to the Department of Internal Affairs, and questions on notice from [NZ] Labour MP Chris Hipkins, following his conversation with Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s chief-of-staff Marcus Ganley, who’s a Kiwi.

Besides being exposed as the fifth dual citizen sitting in federal parliament, Joyce is now the third parliamentarian and second member of the Turnbull Government to refuse to resign even though he has been ineligible to stand as a candidate at every federal election held since his birth.

MPs and senators all had one straightforward task to complete prior to every federal election at which they stood as candidates and it is becoming increasingly obvious that very few of them actually did so.

They deserve no sympathy for this failure on their part.

Are voters really going to trust the Australian Bureau of Statistics with the same-sex marriage plebiscite?


Well here we are. With a federal government so afraid of exercising its constitutional responsibility to make laws concerning marriage and fearful that the High Court might block any move to conduct a compulsory plebiscite without the parliament’s consent.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 August 2017:

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann confirmed the government would "ask the Senate to reconsider" the compulsory plebiscite, which was "clearly our preference".

But "if that were to fail, the government believes we have a legal and constitutional way forward" to commission a non-legislated, voluntary postal vote, he said.

And who is going to conduct this voluntary postal vote?

Why that national statistical agency which is intent on collecting, matching and monetising every piece of data it can on each and every Australian. The very agency which gave the nation #CensusFAIL in 2016.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 August 2017:

Ask the Australian Bureau of Statistics when it knew about its role in the postal plebiscite, ask if it knew at all, ask whether it has the capacity to conduct the plebiscite, and you'll be told it's saying nothing. It's referring all such questions to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

Which is odd, because it's an autonomous agency used to speaking for itself. And the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister aren't the ministers it reports to. It reports to the Treasurer, through the Small Business Minister Michael McCormack. It was McCormack and the head of the ABS, David Kalisch, who kept the public updated during the computer meltdown that came to define the 2016 census.

At a cost of $122 million, the postal plebiscite would become the second-biggest project it's ever undertaken, after the $350 million census…..

Whereas in recent years the ABS has tried to hang on to the names and addresses of those that it surveys and link them to answers (in what many see as an invasion of privacy) each response to the plebiscite will have to be kept secret.

The ABS is, on the face of it, the wrong organisation to be conducting the plebiscite. So why it, rather than the Australian Electoral Commission?

One reason is that only governors-general can call elections, and the High Court is likely to decide that an AEC-conducted plebiscite is much the same as an election. The ABS already has the power to conduct surveys……. 

An ABS 'opinion poll' conducted without the authority of Parliament would be better able to withstand a High Court challenge than the AEC ballot conducted without the authority of Parliament.

On a practical level, the ABS is the worst-placed organisation to conduct such a postal plebiscite. It moves slowly. It needs (more than) five years notice to prepare each census. In recent years it has abandoned the commitment to total privacy that used to define it. And it is trying to move its surveys online.

The wrong organisation to be conducting the plebiscite?

It almost goes without saying that the high level of trust in the Australian Bureau of Statistics fell a few degrees after the 2016 Census debacle and it is likely that public confidence will be somewhat shaky with regard to its ability to run at such short notice what is less a plebiscite and more an unofficial national postal survey.

The ABS has issued this assurance:

The ABS assures Australians that there will be no personal identifiers on the survey form and all materials will be destroyed by the ABS at the end of processing.

However, not everyone will be comforted by this undertaking as so much can go wrong when such a large survey is conducted in such haste.

In 60 days time the ABS intends to have distributed the survey quesion to all registered voters, received the answers back in the post, collated those answers and published the result on 15 November 2017.

It may be that the most attractive thing about the ABS for the Turnbull Government is that its recent history might make some voters think twice about participating in this postal vote and, therefore deliver a participation rate that can be repudiated as not being genuinely representative if most Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators still want to block marriage equality becoming law.

A challenge to this government poll was lodged with the High Court of Australia on 10 August 2017, by lawyers acting on behalf of independent MP Andrew Wilkie, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and lesbian parent Felicity Marlowe.

The defendents are listed as the Commonwealth of Australia, Minister for Finance, Treasurer, Australian Statistician and Electoral Commissioner.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Why am I so angry about this postal vote in Australia to decide on marriage equality?


This following was tweeted by @liamesler within days of the Turnbull Government’s announcement that is has asked the Australian Bureau of Statistics to conduct a voluntary non-binding, national postal survey (not federal parliament authorised plebiscite) of citizens 18 years of age or older on the question Do you support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?"


Trump fighting back against widening FBI investigation


As reports of widening FBI investigations and a grand jury surface......

Monday, 14 August 2017

More bad news for NSW coastal forests


The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 2017:

A draft bill to revamp regulations for native forestry in NSW was slammed as "overly complex" and inequitable, and it failed to address "an inherent conflict of interest" in the oversight of state-owned Forestry Corp.

Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show the NSW Environment Protection Authority found the government's draft native forestry bill unfairly favoured Forestry Corp by remove licensing requirements for the corporation while maintaining them for landholders or industry seeking private native forestry.

It would also leave the corporation with powers unmatched for a state agency, including its protection from third-party challenges such as from environmental groups. 

"The inherent conflict of interest for a corporation in having a concurrency role for negotiating, revoking or changing the terms of their licence ... and the removal of third party legal rights, exists nowhere else in NSW legislation or regulation," the EPA's leaked assessment made last December shows.

Fairfax Media understands the EPA also sought legal advice on how to restrict "very intense" harvesting that the Forestry Corp had conducted for years in areas such as the blackbutt-dominant forests of the NSW mid-north coast.

The Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) that permitted the logging were, however, found to be poorly worded, curbing the watchdog's ability to take legal action.

Even if it could act, though, the penalties available remain tiny. While other breaches, such as by coal mines, could attract fines of as much as $1 million, most forestry penalties were in the hundreds of dollars.

Many of the sanctions were decades old and although the cabinet had discussed a review of the penalties in 2014 – and agreed on million-dollar fines for forestry impacts on threatened species in late 2015 – it is yet to update them......