Showing posts with label NSW Nationals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NSW Nationals. Show all posts

Friday, 11 August 2017

Water rorting continues in the Murray-Darling Basin aided and abetted by the NSW Nationals


And local government and commercial interests in the Murray-Darling Basin have the hide to cry that they are water deprived and should be allowed to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment until that coastal system is a pale shadow of its vibrant self.

The Guardian, 4 August 2017:

The New South Wales regional water minister, Niall Blair, has quietly granted himself the power to approve illegal floodplain works retrospectively.

A Wentworth Group scientist, Jamie Pittock, has accused the NSW government of actively undermining the Murray-Darling basin plan as revelations have continued about the state government’s management of the river system.

Since Four Corners report raised allegations of water theft and secret meetings between a senior NSW water bureaucrat and a small number of irrigators,Blair is under increasing pressure over his water responsibilities.

This followed Daily Telegraph reports that the Nationals MP had been urging his Liberal colleague, the environment minister, Gabrielle Upton, to change the Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan retrospectively to favour large irrigators. He said the change was needed because of an error in the rules.

It has now come to light that Blair gazetted a Barwon-Darling valley floodplain management plan which gives him power to approve flood works built illegally even if they do not comply with requirements prior to the plan.

Under clause 39 of the new Barwon-Darling valley plan, a flood work that does not comply can be approved if “in the minister’s opinion” it is for an access road, a supply channel, a stock refuge or an infrastructure protection work
.
A spokesman for WaterNSW said three relevant applications from the Barwon-Darling region had been received since the change but none had yet been approved.

The NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham called on the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to remove the water portfolio from the National party after the regulation changes came to light.

“This is disgraceful example of the National party giving away free water to their big irrigator mates,” Buckingham said. “Many of these areas are so flat that even a 10 to 20cm bank can divert a huge amount of water into an irrigation dam and away from natural waterways.

“It’s a massive gift of water to the big irrigators. If we want to recover the water in the future then taxpayer will have to hand over huge amounts of compensation for what were illegal constructions.”

A spokeswoman for Blair said the gazettal was a “significant legacy issue” required to create a process where unapproved works could be properly and transparently assessed. She said to be considered, works must not have been previously refused and would still need to be assessed under certain criteria.

“Supply channels are one of the types of existing works that clause 39 indicates that we will accept application for,” the spokeswoman said. “Just because they are existing, doesn’t mean that they will be approved, just that they can apply. This approach is being rolled out through all floodplain management plans.”

Pittock, an associate professor in the Fenner school of environment and society at the Australian National University, said the revelations showed NSW was systematically white-anting the Murray Darling plan.

“The ‘rule error’ and other questionable dealings between wealthy irrigators, government officials and politicians in NSW highlight how the intent of the basin plan can be frustrated by those hostile to its implementation at the state level,” he told Guardian Australia.

“Changes of regulations in NSW have allowed irrigators to take erstwhile environmental flows by allowing greater pump capacity and earlier extraction based on river heights such that commonwealth-purchased environmental water in Queensland in not ‘shepherded’ through New South Wales to the lower Murray.

“Consequently towns like Broken Hill, pastoralists and Aboriginal communities, as well as the environment, have been starved of water.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Bottom line - Mike Baird resigned before he could be pushed


This is Mike Baird’s announcement of his immediate resignation as NSW Premier and intended resignation as the Member for Manly.


Ex-investment banker Mike Baird entered the NSW Parliament on 24 March 2007 as a Liberal Party member of the Opposition.

Once the Coalition won government he first became Treasurer (2011), then Minister for Industrial Relations (2012), until becoming Premier, Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Western Sydney in 2014 then jettisoning Infrastructure from his portfolio list in 2015.

He spent less than three years as premier and in that time his popularity with voters has markedly declined on the back of a sustained push to privatise government assets, the implementation of bad planning legislation which restricted a community’s ability to resist inappropriate development, poor funding decisions which impacted on women fleeing domestic violence and unpopular policy choices such as restricting opening hours for bars and clubs but not casinos, the controversial attempt to ban greyhound racing, forced local government amalgamations and the botched $16.8 billion WestConnex plan along with its compulsory acquisitions  – to name just a few.

The fact that he had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards a decision to curb the growth of coal seam gas exploration and mining was also a mark against his name in many rural and regional areas, while scandals reduced confidence in the state-run public hospital system on his watch.

So it is no surprise that Baird decided to jump when an opportunity presented itself rather than be pushed unceremoniously from the premier's chair.

The fault lines in the NSW Coalition were already beginning to publicly surface when a number of National MPS put a motion to conference for a gasfield-free Northern Rivers in 2015, crossed the floor rather than support the abolition of greyhound racing in 2016 and were joined in disunity by certain Liberal backbenchers who began to mutter against excessive land clearing laws and hospital funding that same year - now in 2017 we see the Nationals pushing against further council amalgamations.

ABC News, 20 January 2017:

New South Wales premier-in-waiting Gladys Berejiklian is likely to be the state's next premier, but she is already facing pressure from the Deputy Premier to scrap council mergers in regional areas.
Ms Berejiklian is the only person to put her hand up for the top job, after Transport Minster Andrew Constance bowed out of the race today and offered her his full support.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro has used Premier Mike Baird's resignation yesterday as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean for the coalition.
This includes a demand to end forced council amalgamations in regional NSW.
The Nationals leader, who took over from Troy Grant in November after the party lost the previously safe seat of Orange, said they would no longer be taken for granted.
"We will no longer be forcing local government mergers and that will be the first course of business," Mr Barilaro said.
"I want to make it absolutely clear to the incoming leader of the NSW Liberals and that is that the NSW Nationals no longer will be taken for granted.
"Today I draw the line in the sand that the NSW Nationals won't just accept the crumbs from the Liberal party table."

Last year there was speculation that Baird would retire in 2018 ahead of the March 2019 state election.

It’s highly doubtful that he would have made it to that March general election without a leadership challenge and it looks suspiciously like he finally recognised the no-win position he finds himself in with the electorate.

There is nothing left but for him to do but collect his lucrative parliamentary pension and perks then move on to a second go at a private sector corporate career. 

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Laughing at the Nationals and Kevin Hogan in Page


If there’s one thing Australians can do better than most it is burst the pretentions of the political class and this effort in The Northern Star on 15 June 2016 is a classic example:

Casino theatre

WIKIPEDIA says an amphitheatre is an open-air venue used for entertainment, performances and sports. The term derives from the ancient Greek meaning "on both sides" or "around" and meaning "place for viewing".

The conundrum facing Kevin Hogan was: What does a politician seeking re-election promise to a town that has everything?

He took into account that all streets are already fully kerbed and guttered with more than adequate drainage. The main roads are all constructed to a standard suitable for B Double transport and the area has a superior internal public transport network with splendid connecting links to surrounding areas. The sometimes four-hour wait for ambulance transfer between hospitals can be considered adequate under NSW existing standards.

Stand by Casino: Mr Hogan has announced (NS 9/6) if he is re-elected he can commit 500,000 denarii, to match a similar amount from RVC, to supply the town with a 1000 tiered-seat amphitheatre so that picnicking families can enjoy "... carols by candlelight, opera under the stars and outdoor movies ...".

The Dept of Employment spokesman, Jobson Grothe, said that when construction is approved expressions of interest will be called for stonemasons to submit plans and quotes.

KEVIN RUFF,
Casino

Kevin’s promise of bread and Circus Maximus for the populace found on his website:

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan today said a re-elected Coalition Government would commit to the construction of a $1 million amphitheatre in Casino.
“This is great news for the Casino community and will provide a place for locals to come together in celebration,” he said.
Richmond Valley Council mayor Ernie Bennett welcomed the project and said the council will be matching the Federal Government’s $500,000 grant
“This new amphitheatre will be a great community asset for Casino,” he said.
The new amphitheatre will have tiered levels ensuring all visitors have a good vantage point to participate in community events, such as Carols by Candlelight, Opera Under the Stars or outdoor movies.
“Casino is a wonderful town but there really isn’t anywhere were a thousand or so people can comfortably come together,” Mr Hogan said.
“We know community spaces like this where families can have a picnic while watching a movie or singing Christmas carols, helps to strengthen the ties that bind us as a community.”
A re-elected Turnbull/Joyce Government will contribute $500,000 to the project, with Richmond Valley Council matching the amount.

Boy the Wonder Cat wants to know “Will there be lions?”

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

I'm so over the Nationals fudging unemployment statistics during this federal election campaign


This was what voters were presented with when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull came into the Northern Rivers to try and shore up Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan.

Echo NetDaily, 17 June 2016:

The prime minister will be campaigning in the marginal Nationals-held seat of Page on Friday, announcing a jobs and investment package.
Kevin Hogan holds Page with a 3.1 per cent margin over former Labor MP Janelle Saffin.
The coalition is desperate to hold Page, which is developing a reputation for being bellwether seat.
The region has one of the worst unemployment records in the state, with youth unemployment nearing 20 per cent in some areas.
The coalition hopes the $25 million investment will give businesses incentives to invest and help boost employment in the region, not to mention boosting their chances of re-election.
It includes providing business innovation grants to help adopt new technology, upgrading local infrastructure and delivering targeted skills and training programs for regional shortages.

Kevin Hogan quoted in the Echo NetDaily on the same day:

Page MP Kevin Hogan welcomed the announcement.
‘The jobless rate in the Clarence Coffs area has fallen to 4.2% – well below the NSW and national average (4.95% and 5.5% respectively),’ Mr Hogan said.
‘Since July almost 2500 people in Page have found on-going work through the Coalition’s Jobactive programme. But more still needs to be done.
‘I set up a local Job Strategy Group over six months ago to bring companies looking to expand to the North Coast. This package will certainly be an incentive for those businesses that have been thinking about making the move but aren’t ready to commit,” he said.

So is Hogan right about unemployment levels on the NSW Far North Coast and the Page electorate in particular?

Here are the facts which he appears to want to fudge by quoting the much broader statistical region – Clarence-Coffs – which extends as far south as the Bellingen area.

The March Quarter unemployment rate for all persons (released 10 June 2016) in relevant local government areas:

Tweed LGA – 7.6%
Richmond Valley LGA – 10.7%
Ballina LGA – 6.1%
Byron LGA – 9.3%
Kyogle LGA – 10.6%
Lismore LGA – 9.4%
Clarence Valley LGA - 6.5%
Coffs Harbour LGA – 5.3%


Ballina – 7,430 people
Ballina Region - 7,999 people
Casino - 5,044 people
Casino Region - 3,225 people
Evans Head – 2,180 people
Kyogle – 3,419 people
Lismore – 7,769 people
Lismore region – 8,166 people
Grafton – 8,756 people
Grafton Region – 7,406 people
Maclean-Yamba-Iluka – 6,880
Coffs Harbour North –  8,711 people

In April 2016 the Youth Unemployment Rate (15-24 years of age) for both the Clarence-Coffs and Tweed regions was 11.9%.
In May 2016 the Youth Unemployment Rate (15-24 years of age) for New South Wales was  11.4%.


And if readers want to know all Coalition's Job Active "ongoing-work" - I refer them to an excerpt from this previous post:

For that amount of money the Abbott-Turnbull Government expects the Jobactive scheme to have placed 380,000 jobseekers in often wage-subsidised employment in 2015-16, at a cost of est.$2,500 per placement covering Employment Fund expenditure, service fees and outcome payments.

Unfortunately 68% of these placements are likely to last only 4 weeks before the person is unemployed once more. I suspect the percentage of temporary jobs is so high because this allows service providers to bill the government again and again for ‘helping’ those same job seekers find other temporary jobs once the initial placement dissolves into thin air and, via the $1.2 billion national wage subsidy pool potentially allows employers to 'churn' new employees on short term contacts so that employers receive financial benefits from the pool but employees are unemployed at contract's end.

None of the departmental employment sustainability measures encompass positions lasting longer than six months, so it is unclear as to whether there is a genuine expectation that job service providers will assist in finding permanent employment for anyone.

In July 2015 when Jobactive Australia commenced, the real national unemployment rate was probably running at est. 8.7% and by March 2016 it had climbed to est.11% according Roy Morgan Research vs ABS Employment Estimates (1992-2016).
In November 2013 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) seasonally adjusted combined unemployment and underemployment rate (underutilisation) was 13.5% and by February 2016 this combined rate was 14.2%.

In September 2013 the average number of weeks an unemployed person spent looking for a job was 39, with an est.134,400 people looking for 52 weeks and over.
Under the Abbott-Turnbull Government by March 2016 the average number of weeks had risen to 46.2, with an est. 181,700 people looking for 52 weeks and over. [Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery, Mar 2016

In June 2014 an est. 123,800 15 to 24 year-olds were looking for full time or part-time work. By March 2016 the number of young people in this category had risen to 133,000. [ibid]

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence reported on 14 March 2016 that some rural and regional areas were grappling with youth unemployment rates above 20 per cent.

Richmond-Tweed (including Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Lismore, Mullumbimby) in the NSW Northern Rivers region had a youth unemployment rate of 14.5% in January 2015 and by January 2016 this rate had risen to 17.4% [Brotherhood of St Laurence, Australia’s Youth Unemployment Hotspots: Snapshot March 2016, p. 3]


Monday, 27 June 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: Nationals Nathan Quigley losing votes one Inbox at a time


I received this copy of a recent email exchange from an incensed Northern Rivers voter, upset with the political data mining involved in delivering the National Party message into his Inbox.

Especially one that informed him that Kevin Hogan favoured a far-right, homophobic, religio-political group (founded by Rev. Fred Nile) as the second preference on his How To Vote cards.

This reader's email to North Coast Voices was accompanied with the final comment "What a pack of b*stards!!!"

The email exchange..........

From: [redacted]  <redacted>
Date: 25 June 2016 at 7:16:09 PM AEST
To: Nathan Quigley <nathan@nswnationals.org.au>
Subject: Re: In one week…
Excuse me Mr Quigley,
I don't recall communicating with you.
How did you obtain my email address?
[Redacted contact details]

On 25 Jun 2016, at 3:41 PM, Nathan Quigley <nathan@nswnationals.org.au> wrote:
In one week Australians will vote in one of the most important elections in a generation.

We'll have a choice between staying on course with an experienced government under Malcolm Turnbull - a government with a plan to keep our economy strong - or a gamble with deeper deficits in an uncertain world under Bill Shorten and Labor.

That's why it's important for every single voter to go to their polling location informed.
Correctly filling in your ballot is ESSENTIAL to ensure we have sound management in Canberra and a strong local voice for the Northern Rivers and Coffs Coast.
Nathan Quigley
State Director – NSW Nationals
P.S. Remember, we need your support. Please CLICK HERE to download your "How to Vote" flyer for Page.
This message was sent from the NSW Nationals and
authorised by N Quigley, Level 2, 107 Pitt St, Sydney.
Click here to unsubscribe.
[if!vml]>&lt[endif]&

UPDATE

From: Matt Kay [mailto:Matt.Kay@nswnationals.org.au]
Sent: Sunday, June 26, 2016 12:15 PM
To: [redacted] <redacted>
Subject: RE: In one week…

Hi [name redacted],

It was supplied by Kevin Hogan’s office. I’ve unsubscribed you from our list.

Cheers,

Mat

Friday, 24 June 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: the Nationals funding bandwagon rolls on along NSW North Coast


National MPs and candidates on the NSW North Coast are rolling out the funding promises with a vengeance now the old 2013 Debt & Deficit Disaster campaign slogan has been hidden under the bed.

Sitting MP Kevin Hogan in the Page electorate:

$1.8 million for a boardwalk along Maclean's Riverside Precinct
$200,000 on CCTV coverage of Grafton and South Grafton business districts
$5,300 for the purchase and installation of two reverse cycle air conditioners in Casino's Community Men's Shed 
$1 million for rebuilding the Woolgoolga Surf Life-Saving Club
New mobile phone towers at Ramornie, Nammoona, Yorklea and Kyogle
$2 million to replace wooden bridges in Kyogle
$500,000 towards an ampitheatre at Casino

Federal candidate for Richmond Matthew Fraser:

$1 million for a second story on Kingscliff's Salt Surf Life Saving Club

Sitting MP Luke Hartsuyker in The Cowper electorate:

$12,000 for Capacity Building for Sustainable and Biological Farming in the Bellingen/Coffs Harbour region
$45,400 Local Blueberry Industry Market Segmentation Research to improve targeting of behaviour change tools for Best Practice
$12,000 in grants for Coffs Harbour community radio station CHYFM
$27,695 training grant for Macksville business Mid Coast Trucks
$4,700 Reap Coffs Harbour
$4,460 Pregnancy Care Coffs Harbour
$1,619 Coffs and Woolgoolga Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Group
$3,950 Sanctuary Australia Foundation
$2,250 Special Needs Support Group
$4,004The Friends of the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden
$2,500 Swimming North Coast – Coffs Harbour  
$2,800 Boambee East Community Centre
$3,333 South Coffs Community Garden  

Somewhere in all this is Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s $25 million promise to the Northern Rivers and Mid-North Coast - rather vaguely called the Coalition jobs package for NSW North Coast and aimed at new, creative and innovative local businesses in the Page, Cowper and Lyne electorates. 

Of course all these businesses, from Taree and Port Macquarie up to Lismore and Ballina, will be competing with each other for a slice of this relatively small amount of money.

* My apologies to North Coast Nationals MPs and candidates if I omitted any funding pledges which have been made to date, but that's the sort of thing that will sometimes occur when election campaign press releases aren't sent out to social media.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Saffin promises Labor will establish a headspace centre in the Clarence Valley

Shadow Minister For Families And Payments, Shadow Minister For Disability Reform & Member for Jagajaga Jenny Macklin and Labor Candidate For Page Janelle Saffin (pictured above), joint media release, 14 June 2016:

LABOR WILL ESTABLISH A HEADSPACE CENTRE IN THE CLARENCE VALLEY

Shadow Minister for Families and Payments, Jenny Macklin and Labor candidate for Page, Janelle Saffin today announced that a Shorten Labor Government will provide funding for the development of a Headspace Centre in the Clarence Valley which will provide assistance to young people experiencing mental health issues.

“There is a clear gap in mental health services in the Clarence Valley, and this $1.8 million in funding will address that gap by ensuring local young people can access the help they need,” Ms Saffin said.

“Establishing a Headspace Centre will give young people in Grafton and the Clarence Valley the same support as people in Coffs Harbour and Lismore.”

Ms Saffin said the Clarence Valley community had been rocked by the death of 11 young people from suicide in just 12 months.

“There are a number of factors behind the high levels of youth suicide and mental health problems on the North Coast. These include high levels of unemployment, cuts to other youth services, and substance abuse.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to this reality and pretend it’s not happening. Ignoring the mental health needs of young people is effectively casting them adrift.

“That’s why I am so passionate about this issue, and so determined to make sure all young people in the Northern Rivers and North Coast have access to services such as Headspace.

“I have fought for the Headspace service for our region, and secured the Lismore Headspace. I have since argued that the Clarence Valley needs one as well, and if I am elected I will deliver it.”

Shadow Minister for Families and Payments, Jenny Macklin, said regionally delivered and funded services were vital to preventing mental illness and building stronger, more resilient communities.


____________________________________

And Nationals MP for Page for the last three years, Kevin Hogan scrambles to catch up……

The Daily Examiner, 15 June 2016, page 6:

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said an array of extra mental health services were about to be provided in the Clarence Valley due to extra resourcing.
"Mental health is a very serious issue, every suicide in our community a tragedy," he said.
"Following a community meeting in December last year I organised a Consultation Workshop on May 23. This brought together local agencies to decide how the extra resources should be allocated in the Valley.
"There will be an outreach of Headspace from Coffs operating in the Clarence before the end of the year. There will also be more resources allocated at the acute care level.
"Many good mental health services exist in the Clarence Valley. It was identified that many people were not aware of the current services."

Monday, 2 May 2016

COAL SEAM GAS: NSW Baird Government coming after the Northern Rivers once again with the support of Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast Chris Gulaptis


NSW Nationals MP for Clarence and NSW Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast, Chris Gulaptis, has endorsed the Baird Government's North Coast Regional Plan – stating in the foreword in this planning document:

The Draft North Coast Regional Plan is our proposed blueprint for the next 20 years and it is a plan for both the Mid North Coast and the Far North Coast. The draft Plan outlines a vision, goals and actions that focus on a sustainable future for the region as it grows that protects the environment, builds a prosperous community and offers attractive lifestyle choices for residents.

Unfortunately he and the state Liberal-Nationals government of which he is a member see the future of the region as being one in which the gas industry is again a major player.

Excerpts from NSW Coalition Government's 100-page Draft North Coast Regional Plan, March 2016:

Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land on the North Coast was also mapped in 2014 as part of the NSW Government's Strategic Regional Land Use Policy. This land is capable of sustaining high levels of production for a variety of agricultural industries due to its high-quality soil and water resources. More than 248,000 hectares of this land has been mapped on the North Coast. The policy requires that any significant mining or coal seam gas proposals on this land have to be scrutinised through the independent Gateway process, before a development application can be lodged….

The North Coast also includes areas of the Clarence-Moreton Basin, which has potential coal seam gas resources that may be able to support the development and growth of new industries and provide economic benefits for the region….

The NSW Department of Industry is mapping coal and coal seam gas resources in the region. Once completed, this information will inform future regional and local planning by providing updated information on the location of resource….

The NSW Government will:….. identify and plan for the infrastructure needs and requirements of the resources and energy sector….

NOTE:

The Gateway process which the Plan mentions was in place from 2012 onwards. A period in which Metgasco Limited's plan to create gasfields and at least one gas production facility on regionally significant farmland (with high fertility soils) in the Northern Rivers was supported by both Coalition state and federal government.

Neither the toothless Gateway process nor the Mining and Petroleum Gateway Panel (both parts of the wider Strategic Regional Land Use Policy) appear to have applied the brake to any Metgasco development applications lodged and approved in order to sink coal seam gas test wells and, under Part 3A of the NSW Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 inhibit progress the now defunct West Casino Gas Project.

The Federal Government's 2014 Catalogue of potential resource developments stated:

All developments within the Clarence‑Moreton bioregion are currently at the pre‑environmental impact statement (EIS) stage. However, subject to regulatory approval, the West Casino Gas Project may move towards an EIS within the time frames considered by the bioregional assessment.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: is Nationals MP Kevin Hogan in trouble in Page?


Echo NetDaily, 22 April 2016:

A ReachTel survey conducted in Page on Tuesday night shows sitting Nationals MP Kevin Hogan in serious trouble, with ALP contender and former incumbent Janelle Saffin ahead by 56 to 44 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
But the news gets worse for Mr Hogan, with as many as 33 per cent of Page voters saying they would be more likely to vote against the Coalition if the parties don’t re-endorse the Gonski education reforms……

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Monday, 15 February 2016

Nationals MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker dumped as Minister for Vocational Education and Skills


Luke Hartsuyker (left) at the beginning of his brief 4.5 month stint as a full minister

Lost his bid to become Deputy-Leader of the Nationals to Fiona Nash and now swiftly given the boot from the front bench by his own prime minister – Luke Hartsuyker must either have fought an unforgivably bloody leadership battle behind the scenes, been a spectacularly underperforming Minister for Vocational Education and Skills or it was discovered that he blotted his copybook when overseas like so many Turnbull Government ministers and MPs before him.

Perhaps a case of what goes on in Turkey stays in Turkey?

Clarrie Rivers will be pleased with the demotion.

Friday, 1 January 2016

While I was away........


After a prolonged absence from blogging due to illness, here is a little catchup from the period July to December 2015.

* NSW Premier and Liberal MP for Manly Mike Baird puts "lipstick on a pig" by calling for an increase in the Goods & Service Tax (GST) to 15 per cent. 

* The community consultation dialogue between ratepayers and Clarence Valley Council over proposed consecutive rate rises every year for the next five years remained as colourful as ever:
* One of Australia’s most influential women, former Federal Labor MP for Page Janelle Saffin announced she will be standing against sitting Nationals MP Kevin Hogan at the 2016 federal election. [Echo Netdaily, 23 September 2015]
_______________

* Clarence Valley Council changed its logo to:
And not everyone was happy.               
        _______________

* Coal seam gas company Metgasco Limited finally bowed to people power and walked away from its exploration leases on the NSW North Coast with a state government compensation cheque totaling $25 million in its back pocket:
* The NSW Nationals used Twitter to take credit for Metgasco’s capitulation – which saw a predictable response:

* The strength of NSW gun laws was demonstrated to a retiree living on Palmer's Island in the Clarence Valley:


* On 17 December 2015 The Daily Examiner published an article titled The 600 major companies that paid less tax than you, but neglected to tell its readers that it was owned by one of these very same companies, APN NEWS & MEDIA  LTD, which had an income of $310.3 million in the 2013-14 financial year.  A total of $21.2 million of this was considered taxable income, yet this company had no tax payable listed for that financial year.
* That one-time darling of the Liberal-Nationals federal government, Kathy Jackson, got her comeuppance:


The disgraced union leader declared bankruptcy in June, on the opening day of HSU Federal Court proceedings which resulted in her being ordered to pay $1.4m to the union as compensation for up to $2.5m misappropriated from members while she was its national secretary between 2008 and February this year.
But her discharge from bankruptcy will only remain in place for three years, meaning the HSU may be able to continue to recoup some of the money she owes after that time.
On Tuesday, Ms Jackson's bill increased by $997,349, when judge Richard Tracey ordered she pay $554,215.67 in interest, $356,500 in legal costs and $86,633.81 in appeal costs.
Brisbane-based commercial barrister Gavin Handran, listed in the most recent Doyles Guide as one of Australia's leading insolvency and reconstruction junior counsels, said Ms Jackson solicited bankruptcy too early.
"The order for costs, circa $350,000, made by Justice Tracey on 21 December is not a debt provable in her bankruptcy even though it relates to a damages award made before bankruptcy," Mr Handran said. "The HSU may accordingly enforce that order against her, perhaps resulting in her again becoming bankrupt or surrendering any assets she acquires in the interim, after her current bankruptcy ends." Mr Handran said the law applied differently to interest and costs. "She might be safe with the interest," he said.
"I suspect what Kathy Jackson did, like so many in her troubled circumstances, was that she ran off on first day and filed for bankruptcy. That was premature.

"It's particularly important for the HSU workers to understand that she's not out of the woods. The sword still hangs over her head." "Not only does she face the real prospect of re-entering bankruptcy after she emerges from this period, but there's also the possibility that the HSU, depending on a cost-benefit analysis, may examine her under oath in the Federal Court, with the assistance of the bankruptcy trustee, to ascertain whether she's transferred any assets to a third party or (her partner, Michael) Lawler." HSU national secretary Chris Brown said the union was "alive to the possibility" of Ms Jackson facing a second round of bankruptcy, or interrogation over the transfer of assets. The union was still determining how it would approach the matter. [The Australian, 24 December 2015, p.5]
                                                                 _______________

* NSW Coalition Premier Mike Baird thought his ability to waste $500,000 of taxpayers' money deserved a tweet or two:
Go to http://www.stonersloth.com.au/ to see the Australian version of Reefer Madness that Baird signed off on.
_______________

There were 222 industrial disputes in Australia during the year ended September 2015, involving 78,000 individuals in a workforce of est. 11.7 million people. The majority of these ‘strikes’ appear to have lasted 2 days or less.

This low level of disputes does not please former prime minister Tony Abbott who, living in a time long past, argued in December 2015 for a tougher approach to breaking up illegal union pickets, saying police forces “around our country” had to be prepared to “uphold the law and not simply keep the peace … A lot of police forces have been traditionally reluctant to break picket lines where picket lines have been preventing people from going about their ordinary lawful business”.
                                                                  _______________

* Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon delivered his discredited final report on union governance and corruption to the Australian Governor-General on 28 December. The full report can be found at: https://www.tradeunionroyalcommission.gov.au/reports/Pages/default.aspx.

It came as no surprise that Dyson Mr.Apprehended Bias 2015 Heydon decided that Kathy Jackson was really a hero who just happened to embezzle over $1.4 million dollars:




_______________

* The independent Q&A Review Final Report released in December 2015 appears to have discovered that this ABC program is skewed in favour of the government of the day:

Conservative flying monkeys dropped from Australian skies in shock.
_______________

* WorkChoices Mark 2 appears to be forming on the horizon ahead of this year’s federal election:

Former workplace relations minister Eric Abetz says the Fair Work Commission cannot ignore calls to reduce Sunday penalty rates, if as expected the Productivity Commission recommends the move on Monday.
Senator Abetz was the workplace relations minister until the Liberal leadership change and cabinet reshuffle in September.
Speaking ahead of the Productivity Commission's release of its final report into the industrial relations system, he told Fairfax Media the review must be respected by the Fair Work Commission which sets wages and entitlements. [The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 2015]

The recommendations — laid out in the commission's final report into workplace relations released on Monday — would affect workers in the entertainment, hospitality and retail industries, if adopted.
The commission did not recommend any changes to overtime penalty rates, night penalty rates or shift loadings, nor changes to rates for nurses, teachers or emergency services workers.
"Penalty rates have a legitimate role in compensating employees for working long hours or at asocial times," it stated.
"However, Sunday penalty rates for hospitality, entertainment, retailing, restaurants and cafes are inconsistent across similar work, anachronistic in the context of changing consumer preferences, and frustrate the job aspirations of the unemployed and those who are only available for work on Sunday.
"Rates should be aligned with those on Saturday, creating a weekend rate for each of the relevant industries."
Announcing the report's findings, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the Government would examine the recommendations and, if the case for sensible and fair changes to workplace relations were outlined, they would be taken to the next election. [ABC News, 21 December 2015]

ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja said the Coalition should argue for a cut in Sunday penalty rates at next year's election.
"The Productivity Commission has done some really important work here," Senator Seselja he said.
"I think that we should be looking to put some policies to the next election which make incremental reforms in this area that go down the path the Productivity Commission is recommending.
"In the hospitality industry, in particular, that's where I hear the most from business owners, that's where I think the reforms should be occurring, and I think that's the sort of thing that we could develop a policy to take to an election." [ABC News, 21 December  2015]
Pharmacists in Australia have voted to launch industrial action for the first time, starting Christmas Eve, as a national pharmacy chain moves to slash penalty rates. It comes amid tense debate over a proposed Australia-wide rollback of Sunday penalty rates for workers in hospitality, retail and entertainment jobs, following an inquiry by the Productivity Commission. Pharmacists employed at dozens of National Pharmacies sites across Victoria and South Australia will now become the first in their profession to take action against an employer, as anger rises over threats to their penalty rates. From Thursday, pharmacists will embark on a campaign against National Pharmacies, authorising strikes of up to 24 hours that could force the temporary closure of some sites if the deadlock continues. The campaign this week will begin with pharmacists refusing to perform a range of work duties. National Pharmacies is attempting to cut pharmacists' penalty rates by as much as 50 per cent for certain hours on Saturday shifts. Double-time Sunday rates would remain in place. The company also wants to lower overtime pay, freeze the wages of existing pharmacists and introduce a two-tiered pay scheme, according to the union. In a statement, National Pharmacies said the pressures of a competitive and uncertain marketplace had forced a need to align with the rest of the industry. [The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 December 2015, p.4]
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* It became obvious that local thoughts had begun to turn to the 2016 election of councillors:
   
                                                             
Excerpts from Clarence Valley Rate Payers, Residents and Business Owners Facebook page - featuring Deputy Mayor Cr. Craig Howe & the artwork of a ratepayer.
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With the national terrorism threat level still fixed as "PROBABLE" by the Turnbull Government, DIBP and presumably many in Border Farce took an eleven day Chrissie holiday:

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On 29 December The Guardian reported that the Turnbull ministry is three and a half months old and already there are two casualties. One looks fairly straightforward. The other, not so. In both cases, Malcolm Turnbull is well rid of them under the circumstances….
Jamie Briggs resigned after he “interacted” with a female public servant in an “informal manner” in a late night bar on an overseas trip. She complained he had acted inappropriately…..
The other casualty was Mal Brough, the former special minister of state. This is more opaque and the stink has a potential to linger given Brough has promised only to step aside, not resign…..

Background on Mal Brough “stink” by barrister Ross Bowler.
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