Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Up Yamba way "a fine young fellow" plays soccer.......



The Sydney Morning Herald, online, 16 August 2017:


This is the story of Marc Reichler-Stillhard, a fine young fellow, born with Down syndrome up Yamba way, and immediately embraced by the local community of the mighty Clarence Valley, where the river flows fast, the fields grow green and the local folk are strong. Integrated with mainstream classes at the local schools and signed up with local sporting clubs, Marc has been a beloved figure who has learnt as much from the kids around him, as they have learnt from him.


Respected: Marc Reichler-Stillhard is a beloved figure in the community of Clarence Valley.
Photo: Enid Reichler-Stillhard

I recounted one story of Marc a couple of years ago, in The Fitz Files. On a sunny day in March 2015, see, the young lads of Yamba are playing the game of their lives against the boys of nearby Lawrence in the local under-12 cricket grand final. No quarter asked for or given, Lawrence has set a good total, but the Yamba young'uns are a confident breed and they go out hard after it. And they get there, too. The scores are level with two balls to go! Yamba's last man on strike is Marc, and as he walks to the crease, the crowd holds its breath.

What is going to happen?
The second last ball is bowled, Marc swings valiantly and ... misses. One ball to go. The Lawrence bowler, a good sport with a fine instinct that some things are more important than mere trophies, a credit to his town, sends down an easier ball. This time young Marc connects, and starts to run like a scalded hare, but the ball is in the air. The Lawrence fieldsman runs in to take the catch ... but drops it. Yamba wins. Marc is carried off the field on the shoulders of both teams, as the crowd roars.

What's not to like? What's not to weep about?
Marc's parents, and the Yamba community take a similar approach to soccer, a sport that Marc loves. For the past couple of years, Marc has been running around with the Yamba soccer club, as an extra – that is, at the suggestion of his coach, he's been taking the field as a 12th man, running out with the others and doing the best he can. Though he's now 16, he's been playing with the under-14s, as it is his best chance of making some contribution, given that he is a lot smaller than his peers and has issues of co-ordination. Every match, Yamba has asked the opposing team if it’s OK and the opposing teams have – bless their cotton socks – never had a problem. The people of the Clarence Valley are just like that.
"Marc does his absolute best and the kids are phenomenal," Marc's mother Enid Reichler-Stillhard told ABC North Coast Radio this week. "When you watch how they interact with Marc, they help him on the field and off the field and make him feel good about himself. He is valued and they want him to play. It gives you goosebumps. The team once gave Marc the ball and said 'go with it Marc' and he ran the length of the field with it, and the kids fell over their own feet not to take the ball off him."
What's not to like?
It has been wonderful for Marc and his family, great for the Yamba team who love to play with him, and make sure he gets to kick the ball, and the opposing teams in the Clarence Valley have respected the situation, and Marc, not taking advantage of his position in the team.
So it's all fun in the sun, yes, in a manner that would bring a tear to a glass eye, as the true spirit of community sport for kids is embraced? Yes, for nearly everyone.
Somewhere out there, however, last week, a complaint was made by just one of the opposing clubs that this was – wait for it – against the rules, asking North Coast Football to stop Marc playing as a 12th man.
NCF have upheld the complaint. Though they are OK to provide an exemption to him on grounds of age, they now insist that Yamba field only 11 players.
And so allow me please, a few words, NCF, and the club making the complaint....
Read full article here.

In 1987 Australia the New South Wales state government exposed Donald J. Trump's "Mafia connections"



If the NSW Police Board in Australia knew of Donald J. Trump's "Mafia connections" (Confidential Minutes, p. 8,3. Police Board ii) in June 1987 it follows that so did the Atlanta Police Department, Georgia State Police, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and possibly Interpol - because NSW Police and/or the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would have likely approached one or all these sources when gathering intelligence. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Coalition MPs just cannot stay out of the headlines


Hot on the heels of the discovery of how many Coalition parliamentarians are involved in the dual citizenship disaster.... 

Prior to entering the South Australian Parliament in March 2014 the then Liberal  now Independent Member for Mount Gambier, Troy Bell, was a teacher, online wine purveyor, restaurateur and manager of the Independent Learning Centre at Mt. Gambier.

According to its website History page; The Independent Learning Centre (ILC) opened its doors in Mount Gambier in January 2007 as a co-operative pilot program between the State Government’s Department of Education and Children’s Services, the Federal Government FOCiS on Youth initiative, and, later, the Innovative Community Action Networks (ICAN) initiative.


PUBLIC STATEMENT BY THE HON. BRUCE LANDER QC INDEPENDENT COMMISSIONER AGAINST CORRUPTION
14 AUGUST 2017

Prosecution pending On Friday 11 August 2017, a public officer was charged with 20 counts of theft and six counts of dishonestly dealing with documents, being seven minor indictable offences and 19 major indictable offences, as a result of an investigation by my office. It will be alleged that the 43-year-old man from Mount Gambier dishonestly dealt with a substantial amount of public money. It will be further alleged that the public officer used documents known to be false, with the intention of claiming a benefit for himself. The alleged offending is said to have occurred between 9 July 2009 and 18 March 2013. The man has been summonsed to appear in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court at 10:30am on 22 August 2017.

ABC News, 17 August 2017:

State Liberal MP for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has resigned from the party after being charged with stealing a substantial amount of taxpayers' money.

Liberal Party state director Sascha Meldrum confirmed she had received and accepted Mr Bell's resignation on Thursday.

The first-term MP intends to remain in Parliament and has released a statement saying he is "innocent of these allegations of theft and dishonesty and will defend them in court".

Last week, Mr Bell was charged with 20 counts of theft and six counts of dishonestly dealing with documents.

He's due to appear in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court next Tuesday.

It will be alleged Mr Bell dishonestly dealt with a substantial sum of public money, and that he used documents known to be false, with the intention of claiming a benefit for himself.

The alleged offences are said to have occurred between July 9, 2009 and March 18, 2013, prior to his time in Parliament.

The former teacher ran an Independent Learning Centre in Mount Gambier before his election in 2014.

Mr Bell confirmed in a statement he had been "charged with a number of offences" and he denied any wrong doing.

ABC News, 18 August 2017:

Liberal leader Steven Marshall has come under fire for his party's response to the controversy engulfing Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell, who is facing criminal charges and has resigned from the party after an anti-corruption investigation.

It was revealed today Bell's decision, which has thrown Liberal preselection in the seat in South Australia's south-east into turmoil, followed a probe by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Bruce Lander.

Bell will appear in court on Tuesday to face charges including 20 counts of theft that allegedly occurred over four years, before he became an MP.

"It will be alleged that the 43-year-old man from Mount Gambier dishonestly dealt with a substantial amount of public money," Mr Lander said in a statement.

"It will be further alleged that the public officer used documents known to be false, with the intention of claiming a benefit for himself."

The former teacher ran an Independent Learning Centre in Mount Gambier before his election in 2014, but is maintaining his innocence and vowing to fight the charges.

Labor is calling on Bell to immediately resign from Parliament and force a by-election, but he has committed to remaining as an independent.

He today spoke publicly about the matter for the first time, and is refusing to rule out contesting the next election.

"That's too early to determine. This has taken a very heavy toll on my family and my staff," he said.

The Advertiser, 18 August 2017:

CHARGED MP Troy Bell did not tell the Liberal Party he was the subject of an internal Education Department inquiry before his alleged crimes were referred to ICAC for investigation.

Sources told The Advertiser that Mr Bell — who is facing 26 criminal charges and has quit the Liberal Party — was aware of an investigation into financial irregularities at the learning facility he managed at Mt Gambier as early as April last year.

Mr Bell on Friday refused to comment on this, stating that his lawyer had advised him not to response to further questions.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said his office had not been advised of any internal investigation into Mr Bell and he first became aware of the ICAC inquiry on Sunday when told by Mr Bell.

As the political storm over the scandal deepened, Premier Jay Weatherill said Mr Bell should resign from Parliament immediately and he attacked Mr Marshall’s leadership on the issue, citing his silence, lack of decisive action and backing for Mr Bell to remain in parliament.

This Is The Face Of The Greatest Threat To World Peace in 2017



“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” [United States President Donald John Trump, Associated Press, 8 August 2017]

NORTH Korea has retaliated to Donald Trump’s warning of “fire and fury like the world has never seen” by threatening a missile strike on a US Pacific territory frighteningly close to Australia.
The reclusive state announced it was “carefully examining” a plan to attack Guam, just hours after the US President issued an apocalyptic warning following reports North Korea had produced a missile-ready nuke.
Kim Jong-un plans to fire intermediate range ballistic missiles at the Micronesian island, which is situated in the Western Pacific 4447 kilometres north of the Australian coast, according to state-run media. [news.com.au, 8 August 2017]

"The people of our country are safe. Our allies are safe. And I will tell you this: North Korea better get their act together or they're going to be in trouble like few nations ever have been in trouble in this world.....Maybe it wasn't tough enough. They've been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years. And it's about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries." [United States President Donald John Trump, doorstop announcement, 10 August 2017]

"The Bible gives President Trump the moral authority to use whatever force necessary including assassination or even war to take out an evildoer like Kim Jong-un and I think most Christians understand that." [Pastor Robert Jeffress, personal spiritual adviser to Donald Trump speaking on Fox News, 10 August 2017]

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said Trump in recent days has been restless to share his thoughts on what she termed “one of the juiciest, newsiest periods of his presidency.” [The Washington Post, 10 August 2017]

“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.” [U.S. President Donald J. Trump, Twitter, 11 August 2017] 
.
The S&P500 fell 1.5% and volatility spiked over tensions between US and North Korea
Gold rose to a two-month high and is predicted to soon top $US1300 if tensions grow [The Sydney Morning Herald at 4:38pm on 11 Aug 2017]

NORTH KOREA has warned Australia it has committed a “suicidal act” by pledging its allegiance to the US and sending defence force members to join military exercises with American and South Korean forces.
Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull last week told 3AW that an ANZUS treaty would be invoked and Australia would send troops to the aid of the US “if there is an attack” on the ally.
“In terms of defence, we are joined at the hip,” Mr Turnbull said.North Korean news agency KCNA has since reported that Australia’s allegiance to the US and its decision to take part in a military drill in South Korea was a “suicidal act”. [news.com.au, 21 August 2017]

I wonder if Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators remember that Adani's corporate structure in Australia is allegedly also geared towards siphoning money into tax havens?


The Guardian, 16 August 2017:

A global mining giant seeking public funds to develop one of the world’s largest coal mines in Australia has been accused of fraudulently siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars of borrowed money into overseas tax havens.

Indian conglomerate the Adani Group is expecting a legal decision in the “near future” in connection with allegations it inflated invoices for an electricity project in India to shift huge sums of money into offshore bank accounts.

Details of the alleged 15bn rupee (US$235m) fraud are contained in an Indian customs intelligence notice obtained by the Guardian, excerpts of which are published for the first time here.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) file, compiled in 2014, maps out a complex money trail from India through South Korea and Dubai, and eventually to an offshore company in Mauritius allegedly controlled by Vinod Shantilal Adani, the older brother of the billionaire Adani Group chief executive, Gautam Adani.

Vinod Adani is the director of four companies proposing to build a railway line and expand a coal port attached to Queensland’s vast Carmichael mine project.

The proposed mine, which would be Australia’s largest, has been the source of years of intense controversy, legal challenges and protests over its possible environmental impact.

Expanding the coal port to accommodate the mine will require dredging an estimated 1.1m cubic metres of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef marine park. Coal from the mine will also produce annual emissions equivalent to those of Malaysia or Austria according to one study.

One of the few remaining hurdles for the Adani Group is to raise finance to build the mine as well as a railway line to transport coal from the site to a port at Abbot Point on the Queensland coast.

To finance the railway Adani hopes to persuade the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif), an Australian government-backed investment fund, to loan the Adani Group or a related entity about US$700m (A$900m) in public money.

Adani family’s Australian corporate structure…..

ABC News, 14 March 2017:

Up to $3 billion from Adani's planned Carmichael coal mine will be shifted to a subsidiary owned in the Cayman Islands if the controversial project goes ahead, an analysis of company filings shows.

An "overarching royalty deed" gives a shell company rights to receive a $2-a-tonne payment, rising yearly by the inflation rate, beyond the first 400,000 tonnes mined in each production year for two decades.

The company with this entitlement is ultimately owned by Atulya Resources Limited, a secretive entity registered in the Cayman Islands, and controlled by the Adani family.

"In plain English, the upshot for the Adani family is [that] if the mine goes ahead, they receive a $2-a-tonne payment, so up to $3 billion, via a Cayman Islands company, a company owned in a tax haven," says Adam Walters, principal researcher and Energy Resource Insights.

With a production capacity of 60 million tonnes or more a year, that amounts to about $120 million per annum in payments, increasing each year in line with the CPI, potentially flowing offshore.

"I would describe it as a structure that means that the Adani family enriches themselves if the mine goes ahead but that other shareholders are impoverished," associate professor Thomas Clarke, director of the Centre for Corporate Governance at UTS told the ABC.

"The worry is that this may be just the beginning.

"That the Adani family have the ability to shift cash and assets around at will and in the future they may well do so at the cost of shareholders and the Queensland economy."

He said the billions flowing to the Adani private company would come at the expense of minority shareholders in the company listed on the Bombay stock exchange which ultimately owns the Carmichael mine.

How Adani acquired the right to this multi-billion-dollar revenue stream is a tale in itself.

In 2010, Adani Mining Pty Ltd bought the coal tenement that is set to become the Carmichael mine from the now defunct Linc Energy.

Part of the sale involved Adani Mining giving Linc Energy an "overriding royalty deed" which entitled it to receive $2-a-tonne for all coal mined beyond the first 400,000 tonnes in any production year.

Linc Energy informed investors at the time could be worth "over $120 million per annum" and up to $3 billion over the course of the royalty right.

But in August 2014, in dire financial straits, Linc Energy agreed to sell the royalty deed back to Adani at a fire sale price: just $150 million.

The obvious course would have been to extinguish the royalty deed, because it represented a multi-billion-dollar liability for the mine which is ultimately owned by Adani Enterprises Ltd, the Bombay-stock exchange listed company.

Instead, the royalty deed "was assigned by Linc Energy Limited to Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as trustee for Carmichael Rail Network Trust," notes in financial reports of Adani Mining Pty Ltd say.

Carmichael Rail Network is one of a group of companies behind the proposed North Galilee Basin rail line, which Adani is currently seeking a subsidised loan of up to $1 billion from the Federal Government's Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to build.

"What this means is that one of the companies currently seeking up to $1 billion in public subsidy is going to profit to the tune of up to $3 billion if the mine goes ahead," Mr Walters said.

Adani Mining Pty Ltd, the proponent of the Carmichael mine and the holder of its environmental approvals, appears to have lent Carmichael Rail the funds to buy the royalty deed.

BACKGROUND

The Guardian, 21 August 2015:

We know that Abbott loves coal and thinks that it is “good for humanity”. Is that why he is prepared to back a financially risky project?

Is it the “10,000” jobs that government ministers say will come from the project (remembering that Adani’s own consultant has said that those numbers were vastly overblown and that Carmichael would result in less less than 1500 jobs).

Could it be the prospect of cash from coal royalties? Maybe.

Does the substantial media coverage from the mine just give the Abbott Government another opportunity to tell the public that all environmentalists are economic saboteurs who want to take away people’s jobs and come in the dead of night to steal your babies? Possibly.

But could there be another causal factor that has contributed to the way Australian politicians have forcefully backed Adani for so many years?

Could that other factor be the close relationships that the company has managed to forge at the highest levels with Australia’s political leaders?

Whenever an Australian leader sets foot in India, it seems that a meeting with Gautam Adani is never more than a figurative (and sometimes literal) flight in a private jet away.

There’s evidence of this going back at least as far as October 2010 and its there in the records of trade missions tabled before parliaments.

Let’s peruse together.

In October 2010, Queensland’s then Premier Anna Bligh travelled to India on a trade mission to promote the state’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games and “strengthen Queensland’s position as an ally and destination for future trade and investment in the eyes of the Indian market and nation leaders”.

report tabled to the Queensland Parliament shows that Bligh’s first official meeting with Indian figures was with Adani, where the company’s owner Gautam Adani and his international development executive Harsh Mishra got to quiz the Premier about policies relating to rail lines, underground coal gasification and support for mining in the Galilee Basin.

Bligh also “agreed to attend the opening” of Adani’s offices in Brisbane later that month and extended an invitation for Adani to meet with its co-ordinator general when they were next in Brisbane.

After Campbell Newman won power for the Liberal National Party in Queensland, he led a trade mission to India too.

While there, Newman joined former Labor Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and a 76-strong business delegation for a tour of an Adani port and a power plant, reportedly getting there on a private jet.

The report on the trade mission, tabled to Parliament, shows that Mr Adani then hosted a lavish reception at his home for the entire delegation.
Judging by one freelance photographer’s images, the event was quite an affair with much handshaking all-round.

The event was part of “OzFest” – Australia’s “largest cultural festival” for which Adani was a “platinum sponsor”

In 2013, the Queensland Government was again in India for a trade mission led by then Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and, again, the Adani company was on hand.

Seeney’s delegation travelled with Adani executive Harsh Mishra to visit an Adani-owned port and power station before Seeney had a private lunch with the company.

Later that same day, Seeney met with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi (now the Indian Prime Minister) and… Gautum Adani.

Mr Adani then hosted a private dinner with Seeney “which included Adani Group senior executives and members of Mr Adani’s family”.

But it’s not only Queensland politicians who have sought out Adani company bosses while on missions to India.

Former New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell met with Gautam Adani during a trade visit to India in December 2013.

Current NSW Premier Mike Baird also went on a trade mission to India earlier this year. You can probably guess by now the name of one Indian billionaire he met with.

Gautam Adani is also a co-chair of the Australia-India CEO Forum – an initiative of the Australian High Commission.

Trade minister Andrew Robb attended the last meeting in New Delhi. I don’t know if they had dinner (but if I was a betting man….)

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Millionaire mining magnate Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest's cashless welfare card adopted by the Turnbull Coalition Government is not the answer


NITV, 14 August 2017:

The income management trial was set up in the east Kimberley in April 2016 to help curb problem drinking, gambling and domestic violence - elements that were present in the lives of 13 young Indigenous people who killed themselves over a three-and-a-half year period.

University of Melbourne development studies lecturer, Dr Elise Klein is researching the policy and told the inquest the compulsory program was rolled out without proper community consultation, silencing many Aboriginal voices and causing tension and frustration amongst a diverse population.

Dr Klein told the inquest via video link from Melbourne the scheme represents neo-colonialism and government overreach.

"It's explained as the 'white card'," she said.

"The card has been a symbol of disempowerment, a symbol of state intervention, punitive intervention over someone's life."

Dr Klein said the system was chaotically introduced with design flaws, including a balance-checking mobile app for people who "didn't know how to use the internet let alone own a mobile phone"

Many of the children who claimed their own lives were inadequately fed, but Dr Klein said it was "naive at best" to think controlling parents' consumption would effectively combat this, insisting the card made money management "much harder" for people already living below the poverty line.

Dr Klein said many of the scheme's participants had told her using the card was like going back to the "ration days", referring to when Aboriginal people working on pastoral stations were paid in tea and sugar, as opposed to real wages.

"Young people watching this play out in their families can only feel extremely debilitated," she said.

The problem is compounded for jobseekers subjected to the coalition's controversial remote work for the dole scheme, which Dr Klein slammed as oppressive.

She called for bottom up, community-led development of services to address the complex social dysfunction plaguing Indigenous communities.

Earlier, one of the last people to speak to a 13-year-old boy before he killed himself, former Kununurra District High School deputy principal Jamieson Coltman, told the inquest child protection authorities failed to intervene despite reports of domestic violence.

This isn't the first time Coalition MPs have lied about costings


“FEDERAL Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's populist "tax grabs" would cost Australians an eye-watering $150 billion over 10 years, the Federal Government will reveal today……Independent modelling by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) and Treasury shows that under a Shorten government small business, mum and dad investors, older Australians and higher-income earners would be slapped with higher taxes.” [The Northern Star, 14 August 2017]

The Parliamentary Budget Office exposes the lie………


This is not the first time a Coalition MP has uttered political lies about costings. Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb became rather famous for it.

ABC News, 11 October 2010:

The Federal Government says the Coalition did not tell the truth before the last election when it claimed to have had its costings audited.
The Opposition did not submit its costings to Treasury before the election, but said they had been audited by a big accountancy firm.
Fairfax newspapers quote letters between the Liberal Party and the accountants saying the work would not constitute an audit in accordance with Australian standards.

And conservative politicians wonder why the general public perceives such a yawning credibility gap.