Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey needs to come up with a better argument concerning the federal Goods and Services Tax


David Pope in the Canberra Times, 30 March 2015

Brisbane Times 30 March 2015:

Treasurer Joe Hockey says Australian consumers have changed their behaviour so much in recent years, through online shopping and choosing more GST-exempt goods, that they are putting pressure on the GST as a revenue-raiser.

Apparently Joe Hockey is upset that this consumption tax raised $47.4 billion in 2012-13, $50.7 billion in 2013-14 and, is expected to raise $53.7 billion this financial year, $57 billion in 2015-16, $60.4 billion in 2016-17 and another $63.8 in $2017-18.

That’s not good enough for our millionaire Liberal treasurer.

It appears he is rather perturbed that people are still buying GST-exempt basic fresh food, simple dairy products and unprocessed cooking ingredients in their local shops or purchasing online second-hand, handmade or other goods worth less than $1,000.

This is the rather weak excuse he is offering for encouraging the states to believe there should be more in the federal Goods & Services Tax kitty.

The GST is a regressive tax when applied to low income households and no amount of vague talk in the mainstream media about possible ‘compensation’ for pensioners will change that.

Clarence Valley Council's new Water Restrictions Policy on public exhibition until 17 April 2015


Clarence Valley Council media release 30 March 2015:

Changes to water restrictions in the pipeline

A DRAFT policy that aims to cut water use during dry spells has been released by the Clarence Valley Council for public comment.

Council works and civil director, Troy Anderson, said the aim of the draft was to ensure supply never reached critically low levels and the policy complied with water legislation and licencing
requirements.

“Because we share a water supply with Coffs Harbour, we are working with the Coffs Harbour City Council to make sure we have consistent policies, that restrictions on water use are similar and are
introduced at the same time,” he said.

“The main difference between the draft and the existing policy is the number
they affect just about everyone, I of levels of restriction would be reduced from seven to five and these would be given colour-coded name descriptors like the bushfire warning system rather than the current numbered restriction levels.

“Councils across the North Coast will be implementing similar measures so things are consistent across the region.

“The impact on water users will be minimal, but because encourage people to get a copy of the draft and let us know their thoughts.”

Copies of the draft are available at council offices in Grafton and Maclean or at www.clarence.nsw.gov.au. Submissions close at 4:30pm, Friday, April 17.

Water Restrictions Draft Policy (PDF download) – seven pages only

The new colour-coded restriction levels starting with the existing permanent ban on the use of sprinklers and unattended hoses between 9am and 4pm daily represented as Blue:


Revoking a level of water restriction

For all areas supplied from the Nymboida River, restrictions will be revoked when flows in the Nymboida River exceed 225ML/day for 14 days.

For all other instances - restrictions shall be revoked when the reservoirs are full or the localised situation is resolved.  


Tony Abbott doing a pot-kettle-black at Victorian Liberal Party


Australian Liberal Party Prime Minister Anthony John ‘Tony’ Abbott decided to have a go at Victorian Labor Party Premier Daniel Michael ‘Dan’ Andrews with a silly one liner.

“If you can change your name, you can change your mind”  said ‘Tony’ of ‘Dan’ at the Victorian Liberal State Council meeting on 28 March 2015.

Tony not only goes by an abbreviated first name just like Dan, like Dan he uses his full name when required.

In addition, Tony comes from a family where his maternal grandfather underwent a surname change in or after 1916.

Definitely an infantile pot-kettle-black moment for Abbott.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A NSW Liberal MLC displays his stupidity


This was one Liberal member of the NSW Upper House on election night.....

What the international legal system is hearing about Abbott's Australia


The West Australian 23 March 2015:

One of the nation's senior barristers, Julian Burnside, has started a campaign to convince the International Criminal Court to investigate Prime Minister Tony Abbott and former immigration minister Scott Morrison for crimes against humanity committed on refugees in offshore detention centres.
Mr Burnside, a Melbourne QC, told a Perth audience at the weekend he was trying to recruit high-profile international lawyers, including Amal Clooney, to conduct the investigation.
"If we got Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and a couple of others in the dock at The Hague, the Nuremberg Defence ("I was only following orders") wouldn't work," Mr Burnside told a sold-out auditorium at the University of WA.
"I'm working on a plan to persuade the ICC to investigate the things that we are concerned about.
"I think the fact that an investigation was happening would have a real, chilling effect on their conduct.
"I'm trying to recruit (leading British barrister) Geoffrey Robertson and Amal Clooney."…..

ANDREW WILKIE Independent MP For Denison, media release 19 March 2015:

UN ADDS WEIGHT TO CASE AGAINST GOVERNMENT AT THE HAGUE


The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, and eminent human rights lawyer Greg Barns will be available to discuss the most recent correspondence with the International Criminal Court in regard to Australia’s non-compliance with the Rome Statute and crimes against humanity against asylum seekers.

In essence Mr Wilkie, in cooperation with Mr Barns, has drawn the Prosecutor’s attention to the damning findings in this month’s United Nations Report of the Special Rapporteur, Juan Méndez, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  He has also highlighted that the Prime Minster and his Cabinet have also repeatedly rejected the findings by the UN Human Rights Committee that the continued detention of refugees subject to adverse security assessments constitutes arbitrary detention.

Extracts of Mr Wilkie’s letter
           
``I wish to draw your attention to the findings contained in the United Nations Report of the Special Rapporteur, Juan Méndez, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The Report was released in Geneva by the Human Rights Council on 6 March 2015.

``In particular I respectfully draw the attention of the Office of the Prosecutor to the conclusions of the Special Rapporteur about the ongoing detention of 203 Sri Lankan asylum seekers and their incommunicado detention. I also note the Special Rapporteur’s conclusions about the impact of legislation drafted and introduced in the Australian Parliament by the members of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 and the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Bill 2014 are now Australian law.

``The Special Rapporteur concludes that the above legislation violates the rights of a group of persons, namely asylum seekers and migrants, to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

``I would also like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to the Prime Minister’s response to this Report. In a public statement he said that “Australians are sick of being lectured by the United Nations, particularly given that we have stopped the boats and by stopping the boats we have ended the deaths at sea”.

``It is respectfully submitted that the Prime Minister’s comments in relation to the Report indicate a state of mind that is, at the very least, reckless as to whether or not breaches of the Rome Statute are occurring as a consequence of his and the Cabinet’s policies. The issue of intent is of course one for your office.

``The Prime Minster and his Cabinet have also repeatedly rejected the findings by the United Nations Human Rights Committee that the continued detention of refugees subject to adverse security assessments constitutes arbitrary detention.

``For instance recently their government failed to comply with, and missed by almost a year the 180-day deadline to respond, the Committee’s July 2013 ruling regarding more than 30 recognised refugees. These people were subject to indefinite detention without trial and the Committee recommended they be released and compensated.’’

Background

In October last year Mr Wilkie, in cooperation with Mr Barns, requested the Prosecutor at the ICC initiate an investigation in accordance with Article 15(1) of the Rome Statute.

Article 7 of the Rome Statute defines ‘crimes against humanity’ to mean acts such as deportation, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, and torture and other similar acts that are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.  Actions such as forced transfers to other countries, detention without trial, detention of children and conditions of detention clearly constitute breaches of Article 7.

``The actions of the Prime Minister and members of his Government against asylum seekers are criminal,’’ Mr Wilkie said.

Last month, Mr Wilkie provided the Prosecutor with a comprehensive brief on this matter.  The Office of the Prosecutor has replied that it is analysing the situation to decide if there is reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.

A copy of the letter is attached.Andrew_Wilkie_MP_to_ICC_Prosecutor_19_Mar_2015.pdf

Monday, 30 March 2015

Abbott's at it again - leaving rich superannuants alone & beating up on low-income retirees & pensioners


With Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announcing that his 2015-16 Budget would be a dull and boring one, it is reasonable to conclude that the over-the-top tax concessions for super funds and rich superannuates will remain unchanged.

However, Abbott is endorsing the raising of fees paid by older low-income retirees and pensioners who want to stay at home for as long as possible in their later years.

The Australian 25 March 2015:

Older Australians will fail to get the help they need and community aged-care providers will struggle to survive if fees suggested by the government for its $1.7 billion aged-care home-support scheme go ahead as planned.

The Commonwealth Home Support Program begins in July and will provide a national, entry-level, aged-care service for those over 65 who can be aided to stay at home as long as possible, reducing the pressure on expensive and rationed residential-care places.

Draft fees released by the government, however, outline minimum expected payments for pensioners and part-pensioners up to double those paid by the same people under the four existing programs, which will be subsumed by the CHSP. “At this stage, the feedback I am getting is that the fees are probably too high and they (clients) won’t pay,” Aged and Community Services Australia chief executive John Kelly told The Australian.

“The clients will vote with their feet and they won’t use the services. That’s when you start having negative social and health consequences.”

About 750,000 people use home-support programs. Under the proposed fee schedule, single people with an income of more than $51,500 will pay a standard fee for the cost of service, those who earn less than $25,118.60 will get the full pension discount and those in-between will be given part-pension discounts.

The suggested minimum fees for pensioners for domestic assistance, personal care, nursing and allied health service is $10 per hour, $9 per hour for food and social support and $9 for meals, not including cost of ingredients……

Essential Energy, Ausgrid & TasNetwork fined $20,000 each for unexpected loss of electricity supply to customers known to require life support systems


On top of government-owned Essential Energy’s fight with local governments over proposed increases in public lighting costs to councils across New South Wales which could see public lighting bills rise in the Northern Rivers by up to 73 per cent in 2015-16 and, unease over the company’s plans with regard to its Nymboida water licence, comes news that supply interruptions are not being managed well.

Australian Energy Regulator media release, 23 March 2015:

NSW and Tasmanian electricity distributors pay $60,000 in penalties regarding their life support obligations

Three electricity distribution businesses, Essential Energy, Ausgrid, and TasNetworks, have paid penalties of $20,000 each, following the issuing of infringement notices by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) in relation to incidents in which customers known to require life support equipment unexpectedly lost electricity supply.

“The unexpected loss of supply can have serious, potentially fatal, consequences for customers who require life support equipment, making compliance with life support obligations by energy distribution businesses a priority area for the Australian Energy Regulator,” AER Chair Paula Conboy said.

“The AER will continue to closely monitor compliance with the life support rules and take appropriate enforcement action where businesses fail to comply with these important obligations,” Ms Conboy said.
Essential Energy, Ausgrid, and TasNetworks reported these incidents to the AER pursuant to their reporting obligations under the National Energy Retail Law and National Energy Retail Rules (the Retail Law and Retail Rules).

The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Retail Rules. The AER can issue an infringement notice where it has reason to believe a business has contravened a civil penalty provision of the Retail Law and Rules.

Background

Essential Energy, Ausgrid and TasNetworks are electricity distribution businesses that supply customers in New South Wales (Essential Energy & Ausgrid) and Tasmania (TasNetworks). Under the Retail Law and Rules, life support customers in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, and South Australia have a range of protections.

The Retail Law and Rules set out key protections and obligations for energy customers and the retail and distribution businesses they buy their energy from. The AER monitors and enforces compliance with the Retail Law and the Rules. The Rules require particular protections for customers registered as requiring any of the following life support equipment:

* an oxygen concentrator;
* an intermittent peritoneal dialysis machine;
* a kidney dialysis machine;
* a chronic positive airways pressure respirator;
* crigler najjar syndrome phototherapy equipment;
* a ventilator for life support;
* in relation to a particular customer - any other equipment that a registered medical practitioner certifies is required for a person residing at the customer’s premises for life support.

Customers who are reliant on life support equipment should contact their retailer and distributor. Premises registered with life support equipment are subject to a range of protections under the Retail Law and Rules, including strict controls on de-energising life support customers, requirements that distributors provide notice of planned interruptions to energy supply and information to assist customers to prepare a plan of action in case of an unplanned interruption.

To be eligible for these protections, customers must provide their energy retailer or distributor with confirmation from a registered medical practitioner that a person residing at the customer’s premises requires medical life equipment.

Related documents: 
Contact details: 
ACCC Media1300 138 917

Sunday, 29 March 2015

How the vote count stood in Ballina, Clarence, Lismore & Tweed state electorates at midnight on 28 March 2015


From the NSW Electoral Commission Virtual Tally Room at midnight on 28 March 2015.
Counting is still ongoing.

Ballina initial primary vote

The Greens Tamara Smith wins.
Swing way from the Nationals 31.9%.

Clarence initial primary vote

Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis likely to be returned. Swing to Labor 22.1%.

Lismore initial primary vote

The Greens Adam Guise likely to win. Swing away from the Nationals 26.3%.

Tweed initial primary vote

Nationals MP Geoff Provest returned. Swing to Labor 19.9%.

Note: Swing percentages taken from ABC Election Results.

Statewide on the night there was an 8.6% swing towards NSW Labor, a swing of 2.9% against NSW Liberals and a swing of 2.6% against NSW Nationals.