Saturday, 23 June 2018

US President Donald Trump takes a well-deserved hit in the cojones

This little girl couldn't fight back against the full weight of Donald J. Trump's cruel racism.

Time magazine cover for 2 July 2018 issue

Until an American late night show expressed its opinion...........

If only real life delivered such swift justice for little children.

NSW Budget 2018-19: what the NSW North Coast can expect by way of state funding

The Berejiklian Coalition Government approached NSW Budget 2018-19 with an est. $3.9 billion surplus and projected smaller surpluses in following years.

In large measure due to the sale of the state's interest in the Snowy Mountain Scheme to the federal government.

This is what the budget papers indicate the state government is willing to spend on the est. 517,000 residents living within across the local government areas of Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Nambucca, Port Macquarie, Hastings, Tweed and Richmond Valley.

The following are excerpts from Budget documents.

The North Coast is a long string of seaside communities with a heavy focus on tourism and is the most biologically diverse region in New South Wales. The Government is delivering better education and health services for the region and delivering significant investment in roads to enable smoother and safer connections.

Regional highlights

Investment in education and skills:

* new Ballina High School and upgrades at Kingscliff High School and Kingscliff Public School, Murwillumbah High School and Murwillumbah East Public School

* funding for the Kingscliff Campus Connected Health Hub and the Coffs Harbour Education Campus as well as funding for TAFE Connected Learning Centres at Murwillumbah and Yamba.

Health infrastructure funding:

* $50.9 million to continue the $582.1 million construction of a hospital at Tweed

* $16.8 million for the Grafton Ambulatory Care Centre redevelopment  

* $15.5 million for the Coffs Harbour Hospital redevelopment

* $9.1 million for the $73.0 million Macksville Hospital Redevelopment

* $5.0 million for the $11.5 million Port Macquarie Hospital Car Park

* funding to partner with Tresillian to establish a Family Care Centre Hub in Coffs Harbour.

Roads and infrastructure initiatives:

* $1.2 billion for the Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina (State and Federally funded)

* $62.0 million to continue construction of the additional bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton

* $28.0 million for Oxley Highway safety and realignment works

* $20.0 million to progress the Pacific Highway Bypass of Coffs Harbour (fully funded by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments)

* $18.3 million to continue construction of the replacement Bruxner Highway bridge over the Clarence River at Tabulam.

Vibrant visitor economy:

* $1.7 million from the Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund for the Stuarts Point Foreshore Revitalisation project

* $7.7 million over four years for the Tweed Hinterlands Walk, Byron to Border Ranges

* $7.5 million for the Macleay Coast, Trial Bay precinct upgrade.

There were also announcements which, although not directly targeting the North Coast, hopefully might benefit the region at some point.

* $23.7 million in 2018-19 to employ an additional 200 paramedics (700 over the next four years) and 13 call centre staff (50 over the next four years) to improve response times, reduce paramedic fatigue and support safety

* increasing frontline health staff, with an estimated 1,370 additional frontline staff across the State, including 950 nurses and midwives, 300 doctors and 120 allied health workers such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and pharmacists

* record $2.1 billion for mental health services including:
 $100 million per year for specialist community mental health support to continue the Government’s 10-year reforms
$82.5 million for increased admitted and community-based services across NSW.

There were a number of across the board ‘initiatives announced’.

New initiatives include:

* the new Creative Kids Rebate to provide families with a $100 voucher per school aged child, for extra curricular activities including music, drama, visual and performing arts, coding and language classes. This complements the existing Active Kids $100 Rebate, announced in last year’s budget, which has been a resounding success with over $38.0 million in rebates claimed by parents

* establishing an online “one-click energy switch” service through Service NSW, which will allow consumers to find and switch to the best alternative energy deals in the market

* establishing the Service NSW cost of living service – a one-stop shop, available in Service NSW centres, online or over the phone, to promote easy access to available rebates and concessions across government

*  reducing ten of the top parking fines issued by State Government agencies by 25 per cent, ensuring that fines balance fairness and deterrence

* reducing caravan motor vehicle weight tax by 40 per cent, making caravan registration cheaper for families

* extending universal education access to preschool for three year olds, making NSW the first state in Australia to do so, providing an average saving for families of $825 dollars a year from 1 January 2019.

Law enforcement and emergency services will recieve the following:

* $288.2 million over four years to further support the re-engineering of the NSW Police Force and provide the Police Commissioner with the flexibility to deploy resources according to need and effectively address and respond to crime

* increased capability to respond to emergencies in New South Wales with:

$56.4 million over four years for the State Emergency Service Operational Fleet Replacement Program, replacing emergency vehicles and equipment, marine vessels and trailers 

$6.5 million over two years for the Rural Fire Service to repurpose emergency response helicopters gifted by the Australian Defence Force to increase bushfire response capability. 

* $52.6 million over four years from 2018-19 to support the rollout of National Facial Biometric Matching Capability across New South Wales which will enable access to new face-matching technology. This technology will increase the capability to identify suspects or victims of terrorist or other criminal activity, including identity crime

* $151.1 million in 2018-19 ($467.3 million over four years) for the Critical Communications Enhancement Program to expand the coverage of the Government Radio Network and improve critical communications during emergencies.

Apart from: 

$102.1 million (part of a five-year $1.4 billion program) to deliver outcomes that help communities and businesses adapt to a changing climate

$250.0 million in loans for the Farm Innovation Fund (FIF). The FIF provides loans of up to $250,000 for investments in farm infrastructure to boost drought preparedness and will now be accessible until 2022. The FIF also offers $50,000 seven-year interest free loans to allow farmers to transport fodder, move live-stock and preserve stock bloodlines; and 

$36.8 million to protect threatened species across NSW by maximising the number of threatened species secured in the wild, by investing $11.9 million to implement the Koala Strategy and $24.9 million through the Saving our Species program;  

there is little thought given to climate change mitigation measures, coastal erosion, water sustainability, protection of farmland or protection of remaining native forests and biodiversity generally.

In addition the NSW Treasurer announced the creation of a $3 billion NSW Generations FundA sovereign wealth fund to guard against intergenerational budgetary pressures and keep debt sustainable.

Commencing 1 January 2019 the NSW Government will introduce a 10 per cent point of consumption tax on wagering, applied on all bets. Presumably in order to capture a slice of online betting market profits. 

For a quick look at further details go to the Budget Overview here.

Memes of the Week

The twitterverse was quite vocal this week across a number of issues......

Friday, 22 June 2018

Liberals continue to behave badly in 2018 - Part Four


Police said they were called to Naji's Charcoal Chicken & Kebabs eatery on Firth Street in Arncliffe just after seven o'clock on Monday night, following reports of a "brawl". The roast chook shop is owned by Michael Nagi, a Liberal councillor for Bayside Council.

The meeting is understood to have turned ugly after an attempt by the moderate faction, which includes Nagi, to allow into the Bayside branch a nearby area, Earlwood, which is controlled by the moderates and has never been a part of the Bayside branch.

This would have constituted what those on the right of the party would class as a "hostile takeover" of their factional control, but a resolution was never reached because the disagreement turned violent.

Police said a man believed to be aged in his forties was taken to St George Hospital and treated for minor injuries.

"Police are now attempting to piece together exactly what happened and how many people were involved," a statement read.

"They are appealing for anyone who may have vision of the incident to come forward."

The Liberal Party said it would "fully cooperate" with police, as well as make their own inquiries.

"An internal investigation will also be undertaken and disciplinary action taken against those responsible," the party said.

"The Liberal Party strongly condemns the kind of behaviour that is alleged to have occurred."

ABC News, 19 June 2018:

One witness, who did not want to be identified, described the situation as an attempted "hostile takeover" of the branch.

"Just before the meeting started, there was an altercation where some people were intimidating and swearing and pushing and shoving of the others who belonged to the meeting," he said.

"Others outside were blocked from entering the meeting."

The man said an elderly lady inside the cafe was "trampled on", and a man who tried to intervene was "ganged up on".

"They started bashing him … they took him outside and started kicking him.

"To be honest I thought he was going to die."

The man also said some people tried to film the incident, but their phones were taken and smashed.


“Two hundred thousand Australian dollars.….that’s not a lot of money” [Liberal Sen. Lucy Gichuhi speaking about here Australian parliamentary salary package on Kenyan television in January 2018]
Daily Mail, 20 June 2018:

Embattled Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi was taken to court seven times for failing to pay $8,359 worth of council rates and $1,372 in water bills.

Court documents obtained exclusively by Daily Mail Australia show the Kenyan-born federal MP faced legal action from City of Port Adelaide Enfield council, Whyalla City Council and the South Australian Water Corporation in 2013, 2014 and 2017.

The Turnbull Government senator, who is on a $203,000 salary, was ordered by local court magistrates to pay $9,731 in seven unpaid bills, related to two investment properties in Adelaide and one in regional Whyalla.

One unpaid council bill went to court just three weeks before she was sworn in last year as a senator, and another bill was taken to a magistrate four months after she became a member of Parliament.  

The backbencher, who owns four houses in South Australia with her husband William, had failed to pay $8,359 worth council rates and $1,372 in water bills.

On her pecuniary interest register, Senator Gichuhi declares she is the owner of investment properties in the Adelaide suburbs of Dernancourt and Gilles Plains, along with another home in the steelworks city of Whyalla.

The senator and mother-of-three, who moved to Australia from Kenya in 1999, received five arrears from the Port of Adelaide Enfield Council and one from Whyalla City Council, in areas where she owns three investment properties.

According to her Statement of Registerable Interests the senator in partnership with her husband owns 6 residential properties in South Australia and 3 properties in Kenya.

She appears to receive rental income on a number of these properties. 

The Advertiser, 21 June 2018, p.6:

Senator Gichuhi, already under pressure after spending thousands of taxpayer dollars flying her family to Canberra, was provided with staff, office space, a car, driver and entertainment by one of Kenya’s richest men. The SA senator spoke at events organised by Equity Bank and its wealthy chief executive James Mwangi.

Disclosure documents lodged earlier this year show Dr Mwangi provided Senator Gichuhi with “a car and a driver … to attend various events and functions”.

“Dr Mwangi also provided office facilities, refreshments and access to his staff to enable me to prepare speeches for Nairobi University and other functions,” the document reads.

Dr Mwangi, who is worth $230 million, invited Senator Gichuhi to speak at Equity Bank events including on January 4, where she addressed the bank’s Wings To Fly scholars….

Disclosures show Senator Gichuhi received free accommodation from another wealthy Kenyan businessman, Linus Gitahi, who she described as her “long-term friend”.

The Advertiser, 19 June 2018, p.5:

South Australian senator Lucy Gichuhi billed taxpayers more than $4500 to fly six family travellers to Canberra during the week she was sworn into Federal Parliament prompting calls for a tightening of expenses.

According to parliamentary records, Senator Gichuhi claimed three return flights from Adelaide, two from Darwin and a one-way flight from Sydney taken during the second week of May last year.

She has previously defended her decision to accept free accommodation from the High Commission of Kenya in Canberra for her family to attend her swearing-in on May 9 last year 2017, because they struggled to find accommodation.

Junkee, 19 June 2018:

Gichuhi billed taxpayers $2139 for two return flights from Darwin to Adelaide, which were used to fly family members to her birthday party in October last year. She has since agreed to pay that cost back in full, saying it was “an administrative error involving misunderstanding of travel rules”.

And while we’re on the point of corrections, it wasn’t even her 50th birthday party — Gichuhi is 55. She actually titled the birthday party her “50 plus GST” birthday, the omitted 5 years being the GST. In the speech she gave at the event, which is inexplicably available on her website, she told guests that “I have now also taught you to deduct 10 percent off your own age — if you want to!”….

Gichuhi has also come under fire for billing taxpayers around $12,000 for a number of trips to Sydney, which she listed as “electorate business”, despite her electorate actually being in South Australia.

After watching this video the next two years of US domestic and international politics will hardly surprise

Thursday, 21 June 2018

At last! A way to gaol the entire Turnbull Government


The Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Bill 2017 (the Bill) will introduce new offences and a new injunction power to prohibit and prevent conduct amounting to false representation of a Commonwealth body….

It is essential that the public can trust in the legitimacy and accuracy of statements made by Commonwealth bodies. The amendments are critical to ensure the public has confidence in the legitimacy of communications emanating from Commonwealth bodies, thereby safeguarding the proper functioning of Government…..

The Bill introduces a primary offence where the person is reckless as to whether their conduct will result in, or is reasonably capable of resulting in, a false representation. These amendments also create a new aggravated offence where a person engages in such conduct with the intent to obtain a gain, cause a loss, or influence the exercise of a public duty.

This bill finally passed both house of the Australian Parliament on 18 June 2018.

Of course the bill doesn’t actually allow the gaoling of every member of the Turnbull Coalition Government for two to five years.

A government whose members have turned the uttering of outright lies and the continual misrepresentation of fact into art forms. Who only pretend to be governing in the interests of the people.

But a voter can dream, can't she?

This bill was created with the sole purpose of providing the Turnbull Government with a weapon to use during the forthcoming election campaign.

Trump's Truth

Trump’s ‘truth’

The Truth

Reuters, 15 June 2018:

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Jean-Claude Juncker has been called many things during his premiership of Luxembourg and presidency of the European Commission, but probably never what he says U.S. President Donald Trump called him at the weekend: “a brutal killer”….

“I think he meant it as a compliment, but I am not sure.”…..

European Union countries on Thursday unanimously backed a plan to impose import duties on 2.8 billion euros’ ($3.3 billion) worth of U.S. products in response to U.S. tariffs on EU steel and aluminum, EU sources said.

Express UK, 10 May 2018:

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker has said Europe needs to “replace” the United States as a world superpower in the midst of an angry outburst after President Donald Trump confirmed he was pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Euro News, 3 March 2018:

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has vowed to fight back against US President Donald Trump's threat of a 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminium imports.

"So now we will also impose import tariffs. This is basically a stupid process, the fact that we have to do this. But we have to do it. We will now impose tariffs on motorcycles, Harley Davidson, on blue jeans, Levis, on Bourbon. We can also do stupid. We also have to be this stupid," he said in Hamburg on Friday evening.