Saturday, 18 November 2017

Tweet of the Week


Quotes of the Week


“Not sure if this has been posted but Jesus, this is wrong on levels yet to be described by science.”  [Jeremy Parkinson writing in Facebook on 9 November 2017 with regard to a US newspaper opinion piece describing New Zealand as being in the grip of the far right]


“The number of MPs and senators suspected of failing to obey the Constitution’s requirements on dual citizenship is now 28 to 30 by some counts, and only the High Court can rule on their status.”
 [journalist Malcolm Farr in news.com.au, 10 November 2017]


"What is #absurd is people who under our constitution are illegitimately elected to parliament think that the problem is with the constitution"  [mark‏ @Golfologest on Twitter, 11 November 2017]

Friday, 17 November 2017

It is being suggested to Lower Clarence communities that inviting the cruise ship industry into the Clarence River estuary will bring financial gain to their towns - but will it?


At this month’s ordinary monthly meeting Clarence Valley Council will be considering whether or not to give in principle support to the NSW Government’s proposal to designate the Port of Yamba as a cruise ship destination and possibly build a cruise ship terminal in the Clarence River estuary.

The Berejiklian Government appears to be presenting this proposal as a way to increase the annual regional income of the Clarence Valley. But is it and will it?

Nowhere have I found any mention of the business model employed by the global cruise ship industry. An industry which seeks to create demand through the judicious use of political donations and paid lobbyists.

According to  Professor Ross Klein, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland; “Standing up to a cruise line can sometimes be difficult, especially given the industry’s generous contributions to political campaigns, their active lobbying efforts, and their degree of influence with mass media” [Klein, R. (2013) The Cruise Industry’s Business Model: Implications for Ports]

As an example, between 1997-2007 Cruise Line International Association spent US$10 million on lobbying the U.S Congress

In the first instance the business model used by cruise ship operators seeks to have passengers spend most of their money on-board the ship.

So many of the traditional services supplied on a cruise are no longer covered by the upfront cost of the fare and attract an additional charge per use.

Any land-based tours or shopping trips are organised by the cruise operator and not infrequently the cost is not absorbed by the cruise line so a fee for participation is paid by passengers directly to this shipping company.

The fee paid by the cruise operator to a land-based tour business contracted to supply the actual service usually ranges from as little as 10% up to an est. 50% of the fee paid by passengers.

Even when passengers leave the ship to wander around coastal zone towns you can bet that the cruise ship operator will have approached local businesses requesting a fee to include these businesses on a list of recommended shops/cafes/hotels/clubs - because that is part of the business model.


From state government a cruise line expects and often receives reduced harbour fees & charges and from state and local government it expects upgrades in infrastructure worth literally millions of dollars, without giving a firm guarantee that it will continue to use a particular port as a genuine destination rather than as a short "technical call".

What is worse is that once the cruise industry becomes established in a small port there is evidence to suggest that the regular incursion of up to 350 passengers at a time into coastal towns sees a decrease in the number of land-based tourists, who now see these towns as crowded and impersonal - no longer offering an intimate holiday experience.

It is these land-based tourists who fill Yamba and Iluka’s camping grounds, motels, hotels and holiday units and, are more likely to patronise the full range of dining/entertainment/sporting experiences on offer. So to see a significant proportion of them replaced by cruise passengers over time is not likely to compensate for the risk of economic loss during peak holiday periods in the Lower Clarence.

The first small cruise ship is due in Yamba on or about 24 October 2018 and this is it’s published itinerary: arrive during breakfast, disembark to visit “Flinders Well, Yamba Lighthouse, and the Yamba Historical Museum” or “alternatively walk in the nearby Iluka Nature Reserve”, return to ship for lunch and depart in the afternoon.

Now I'm no economist but even I know that this itinerary doesn’t exactly ring the till in a big way for businesses in Yamba or Iluka.

This cruise ship, which is a repeat offender when it comes to reef and coral damage, is probably coming in on the high tide but as it expects to leave in the afternoon it is not going out with maximum water depth under its keel  -  which should ring some alarm bells.

Through the prism of this industry business model the Port of Yamba will not be seen as a boutique destination but merely as one more excuse to extend the number of nights passengers spend on a floating hotel being milked by the hotelier for as much money as possible before they finally leave the cruise at a major city port.

What Australian lobbyists for the cruise industry are not telling the regional ports they are currently attempting to smoodge is that when it comes to Australian east coast cruise destinations Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne accounted for 65% of total passenger onshore visit days and 90% of the home port passenger onshore visit days. [Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)2016 & 2017]

Which means most of the spending money cruise ship passengers have in their wallets is more likely to be spent at large ports.

One cannot escape the suspicion that the health of the Clarence River estuary, existing coastal tourism revenue and safety of the Native Title reef Dirrangun are being placed at risk by this proposal, for what is essentially a dream of financial return for Lower Clarence communities rather than a solid reality.

Interested readers can find more information in the presentations included in the report of an international symposium held in 2013 which can be found at http://www.jbna.org/IS%20-%20Charleston-Report.pdf. For an idea of how many of these not-so-small cruise ships come into a regional harbour once berthing facilities are established see https://www.portauthoritynsw.com.au/port-of-eden/port-services-facilities/eden-cruise-schedule/.

Oh dear, is the Turnbull Government asking chickens to visit the digital fox's den?


“The Turnbull Government has welcomed the eSafety Commissioner’s announcement today about the delivery of the pilot for a new national portal for reporting instances of non-consensual sharing of intimate images (colloquially known as image-based abuse or revenge pornography).”  [Senator Mitch Fifield, media release,15 October 2017]

Given the dubious reputation Facebook Inc has managed to garner in relation to business ethics, transparency, consumer privacy, e-safety, data mining and data breach history, one wonders what the Minister for Communications and Liberal Senator for Victoria Mitch Fifield was thinking.

Facebook Newsroom, 9 November 2017:

Image Pilot
By Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety

We don’t want Facebook to be a place where people fear their intimate images will be shared without their consent. We’re constantly working to prevent this kind of abuse and keep this content out of our community. We recently announced a test that’s a little different from things we’ve tried in the past. Even though this is a small pilot, we want to be clear about how it works.

This past week, in partnership with the Australian eSafety Commissioner’s Office and an international working group of survivors, victim advocates and other experts, Facebook launched a limited pilot in Australia that will help prevent non-consensual intimate images from being posted and shared anywhere on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Specifically, Australians who fear their intimate image may be shared without their consent can work with the eSafety Commissioner to provide that image in a safe and secure way to Facebook so that we can help prevent it from being shared on our platforms.

To be clear, people can already report if their intimate images have been shared on our platform without their consent, and we will remove and hash them to help prevent further sharing on our platform. With this new small pilot, we want to test an emergency option for people to provide a photo proactively to Facebook, so it never gets shared in the first place. This program is completely voluntary. It’s a protective measure that can help prevent a much worse scenario where an image is shared more widely. We look forward to getting feedback and learning.

Here’s how it works:

* Australians can complete an online form on the eSafety Commissioner’s official website.

* To establish which image is of concern, people will be asked to send the image to themselves on Messenger.

* The eSafety Commissioner’s office notifies us of the submission (via their form). However, they do not have access to the actual image.

* Once we receive this notification, a specially trained representative from our Community Operations team reviews and hashes the image, which creates a human-unreadable, numerical fingerprint of it.

* We store the photo hash—not the photo—to prevent someone from uploading the photo in the future. If someone tries to upload the image to our platform, like all photos on Facebook, it is run through a database of these hashes and if it matches we do not allow it to be posted or shared.

* Once we hash the photo, we notify the person who submitted the report via the secure email they provided to the eSafety Commissioner’s office and ask them to delete the photo from the Messenger thread on their device. Once they delete the image from the thread, we will delete the image from our servers……..

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The problem of dual citizenship for Australian federal politicians is not a new one so why has this current batch made such a hash of the solution?


Australian Electoral Commission nomination form advice re Sec 44 of the Australian Constitution

This is former Liberal MP Alex Somlyay - elected 1990 and retired 2013 - as reported in the Sunshine Coast Daily on 19 July 2017:

Alex Somlyay, who represented Fairfax for 23 years from 1990 to 2013, is the son of Hungarian refugees who arrived in Australia after World War Two as stateless persons.
Mr Somlyay says Ms Waters' predicament in an unintended consequence that needed to be fixed…..
Mr Somlyay is particularly attuned to Mr Waters' forced resignation because of events that played out which could have threatened his own parliamentary career.
His parents became Australian citizens and Mr Somlyay was born in Australia.
But the fall of the Iron Curtin saw Hungary again become an independent country which immediately gave citizenship to the diaspora that fled as refugees and their children.
"I was already in Parliament,” he said. "I went to see the Hungarian ambassador and wrote a letter relinquishing any Hungarian rights.”

With the holding of dual citizenship being a specific bar to nominating as a candidate at a federal general election or by-election the answer for such dual citizens has always been straightforward even in complex situations.

Before nominating check your citizenship status and if by virtue of having a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent who was born overseas you find you either hold foreign citizenship by descent or may be entitled to such citizenship then take the appropriate steps to formally renounce this citizenship.

Even in the late 1800s Australia was a multicultural society with people holding foreign citizenship permanently migrating here from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania.

The framers of the Australian Constitution were well aware of this fact and set out one simple rule disqualifying any person who 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 from sitting as a representative of the people in the federal parliament. 

The only exception when the Consitution was enacted was for persons born in the United Kingdom (or in certain cases its colonies) as it was not then considered a foreign power.

The right to nominate as a candidate in an election is now reserved for persons of good character who hold only Australian citizenship - whether by birth, descent or naturalisation - and hold no office of profit under the Crown.

The High Court of Australia so ruled in Sykes v Cleary in 1992, in Free v Kelly & Australian Electoral Commission in 1996 and again in Re Canavan; Re Ludlam; Re Waters; Re Roberts [No 2]; Re Joyce; Re Nash;Re Xenophon in October 2017

Only an overweening sense of self-importance and an unswerving belief in their own entitlement can explain why in 2017 there are so many politicians with questions against their names when it comes to a right to be sitting in the Australian Parliament.

And only a steely determination not to be fully held to account sees the Turnbull Government suggesting that a declaration to the Australian Parliament by already elected politicians somehow trumps any false or misleading written declaration they may have made as part of their nomination as candidates.


RECOMMENDED READING
                
8 November 2017, YaThink? Let’s stop pretending. We want this Government to burn at the stake!

STATE OF PLAY

Growing list of federal parliamentarians found to be ineligle to stand:

1. Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlum – first elected 2007, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 14.7.2017, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17
2. Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Joy Waters – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 18.7.17, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

3. Liberal MP for New England Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

4. Liberal Senator for NSW Fiona Joy Nash – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

5. One Nation Senator Malcolm Ieuen Roberts – first elected 2016, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

6. Liberal Senator for Tasmania Stephen Shane Parry – first elected 2004, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship on or about 2.11.17

7. Liberal MP for Bennelong John Gilbert Alexander – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament (refused to publicly confirm dual citizenship) on or about 11.11.2017

8. Jacqui Lambie Network Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie – first elected 2013, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 14.11.17

9. Liberal senator-elect Hollie Hughes found to be eligibility by the High Court on 15 November 2017 due to the fact that she holda an office of profit under the Crown

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

How the NSW North Coast voted in the national same-sex marriage postal survey


Across Australia 12,691,234 registered voters responded to the Australian Marriage Law Postal  Survey with 61.6% of respondents answering YES and 38.4% answering NO to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?

In NSW, 81.3% (2,147,973) of eligible females and 77.5% (1,947,546) of eligible males responded to the survey.

By NSW North Coast federal electorate:

Richmond – 67.9% of survey respondents answered YES and 32.1% answered NO
Page -  59.7% of survey respondents answered YES and 40.3% answered NO
Cowper – 60% of survey respondents answered YES and 40% answered NO

For a full breakdown of survey results go to https://marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/results/

On 15 November 2017 the far-right of both Coalition parties are going to attempt to scuttle genuine marriage equality in Australia


“Liberal senator James Paterson’s private members bill to “protect religious freedoms” would enshrine exceptionalism discriminating against gays. Gays would be allowed to marry, but anyone and everyone who wanted to deny them service would be legally allowed to do so. We don’t tolerate such discrimination based on race or ethnicity.” [Professor of Politics, University of Western Australia, Peter van Onselen writing in The Australian, 13 November 2017]


It comes as no surprise that this bill is being sponsored by that chinless wonder, former Institute of Public Affairs member and Liberal Senator for Victoria James William Paterson (pictured left).


The Australian, 13 November 2017:

A conservative-backed same-sex marriage bill enshrining wide-reaching shield laws for celebrants, businesses, educators, charities and parents opposed to gay marriage will be taken to the Coalition partyroom in a looming showdown over freedom of speech and religious protections.

The 34-page bill, obtained by The Australian and to be released today by conservative Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson, would override state and territory anti-discrimination and freedom-of-speech laws to extend protections beyond religious affiliation to anyone who holds a “conscientious belief” in traditional marriage.

Significantly, the bill also ­includes a “safe schools” clause to confer rights to parents who want to remove their children from classes if they believe the values being taught do not accord with a traditional view of marriage.

In what will become a potentially critical test of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, the bill will be taken to the Liberals’ partyroom when it next meets in two weeks and presented as an alternative model to that favoured by moderates and sponsored by ­Liberal ­senator Dean Smith, which offers only limited protection.

However, it is believed there are plans to table the bill in the Senate as early as Wednesday if needed following a likely Yes ­result in the gay marriage postal plebiscite.

The release of the draft Marriage Amendment (Definition and Protection of Freedoms) bill 2017 will blindside moderate Liberal MPs who last week were demanding the release of any proposed conservative-backed model.

The bill is expected to receive qualified support today from the majority of the conservative bloc and will present a challenge to moderate MPs, with Senator ­Paterson being an open supporter of gay marriage.

Some conservative MPs, however, are likely to argue that the bill does not go far enough with new polling revealing overwhelming public support for laws to protect freedom of speech, religion and parental rights.

The bill requires not only amendments to the Marriage Act but an amendment to the federal Sex Discrimination Act. It would also override prevailing state and territory anti-discrimination laws that offer no protection for people with a traditional view of marriage.

The protections to shield proponents of traditional marriage from civil law suits, however, will be limited to only those goods and services directly related to the solemnisation of a same-sex marriage or the provision of a wedding. This includes goods and ser­vices provided by florists, bakers, hotels or function centres but only so far as they relate to a same-sex ­wedding.

Senator Paterson, who sat with Senator Smith on the Senate committee ­inquiry into same-sex ­marriage, said the bill better reflected the recommendations on preserving human rights and the protections of a diversity of views.

“If the parliament opts for a narrower bill with fewer protections, I fear we will see some Australians seek to impose their values on others, with court cases and other legal mechanisms. No one should want to see the messy court cases that have occurred after same-sex marriage was legalised in other countries,” Senator Paterson said

The potential clash with Liberal moderates was foreshadowed yesterday with North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman telling Sky News the debate over religious freedoms was a separate issue to same-sex marriage.

“If Australians vote for marriage equality and then ... the parliament for any reason delays or seeks to obfuscate or seeks to thwart the wishes of the Australian people, then I think the view of our parliament, the view of this process will be significantly diminished,” he said. “We should have it resolved before Christmas, I don’t think Australians will tolerate delay.”

“What we’ve seen during this debate is the conflation of a whole range of issues which frankly have nothing to do with the Marriage Act. And they can be debated. Protecting religious freedoms is something that Liberals feel very strongly about. But they shouldn’t be confused with this bill which is designed to deliver marriage equality.”

While the bill being proposed by conservatives gives effect to changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, it proposes more than 80 amendments covering six key protection provisions that Senator Paterson insists would ensure Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The most contested amendment is likely to arise from a new definition of “conscientious objection” which offers protection to anyone from being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding “against their sincerely held ­beliefs”.

Anti-detriment laws would also be applied to prevent government agencies taking adverse action against a person who holds a ­traditional marriage belief and ­extend that shield protection to professions that are licensed, such as doctors and lawyers. Businesses and individuals would, however, not be included, preserving freedom of association.

Charities that held a belief in traditional marriage could not be stripped of their charitable status, as has occurred in other countries, while Christian schools and institutions would be protected in teaching traditional marriage.

Most critical to the case put by MPs, is parents’ rights to choose to remove their children from school classes that conflict with their values, providing a safeguard for parents who object to the controversial Safe Schools program.

The Private Member's Bill: