Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Independent Commission Against Corruption claims Liberal NSW Premier O'Farrell's scalp


NSW Premier and Liberal Party MP Barry O’Farrell denied receiving a $3,000 bottle of Penfold's Grange Hermitage wine on or about 20 April 2011, from long-time Liberal Party member and then Australian Water Holdings CEO Nick Di Girolamo.

He did not declare this gift in either his ministerial or member’s declarations of pecuniary interests.

Further, in evidence before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on 15 April 2014 O’Farrell could not recall many details of his official or private contact with Di Giolamo.

Then this made its appearance reportedly courtesy of Mr. Di Girolamo:

 The Telegraph 15 April 2014

Subsequently Barry O’Farrell announced his intention to resign as premier.

UPDATE

Courier billing document listing Australian Water Holdings' Gift to Barry O'Farrell & Wife:

Abbott Government move increasing the cost of getting married by a celebrant?


According to the Australian Attorney-General Department’s website, there are currently more than 10,000 Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants in this country.


Those wishing to become Commonwealth-registered celebrants now have to pay an upfront $600 application fee, on top of the cost of the basic training course (usually between $1,000-$2,000) and cost of required ongoing professional development.

All Commonwealth-registered celebrants will also have pay the Federal Government a $240 annual registration charge.

Their first annual charge invoice will arrive in July this year. If celebrants fail to pay by 3 September (or fail to apply for the very limited exemption) they will be deregistered on 13 September 2014 – no ifs or buts.

There were 10,300 Commonwealth-registered celebrants on the departmental list in 2011 and, if that number has not decreased the Abbott Government can expect to receive at least $2.4 million into its coffers in five months’ time and every year thereafter. Although the Attorney-General’s Department denies that the new annual charge is a revenue raising measure.

Celebrants conduct approximately 60,000 marriages each year which roughly averages out as 6 wedding ceremonies per celebrant each year and, with the celebrant’s fee ranging from an estimated $350-$950 (depending on the type of ceremony required the bride and groom), there does not appear to be much of an income to be derived.

I suspect that this new annual cost may see many celebrants raise their price for conducting weddings.

March 2014 complaint lodged with the Australian Stock Exchange concerning Metgasco Limited


Coal seam and tight gas exploration & mining company Metgasco Limited is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

An individual has lodged a 3-page complaint with ASX alleging that the company failed to meet its disclosure obligations and engaged in allegedly misleading and deceptive conduct (click on page images to enlarge):



The Australian Stock Exchange sent a 2-page reply in which it stated it was investigating the complaint in relation to the mining company's listing obligations:






Click on page images to enlarge


Note
The complainants address has been redacted from both letters for privacy reasons.
These digital copies of the complaint and response were received by North Coast Voices as a direct result of Metgasco Limited's release on 9 April 2014 of email addresses on its subscriber list.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Not a good look for Metgasco Limited


From aabbaadd66, aandhumphries, aaron, aarong, abhijeet, abraham, acashman through to piers, pochu, pradeep, pranay, pscutti, pudney - and every letter of the alphabet in between – Metgasco Limited released email addresses out into cyberspace on Wednesday 9 April 2014 at 9.29am

I suspect that subscribers to Megasco’s newsletter with email addresses beginning with Q through to Z are also in the same boat.

Metgasco realised its mistake and tried to recall this email 29 minutes later:

[redacted] would like to recall the message, "Confirmation of Release - MEL - Rosella drilling update".=

However, that merely resulted in subscribers’ email addresses being sent out a second time.

It is my understanding that Metgasco's indiscretion saw subscribers on its list receiving emails from unexpected quarters within twenty-four hours.

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson sent out this email apology on Friday 11 April at 4.20pm :

Ladies and Gentlemen

Earlier this week our email entitled “Confirmation of Release – MEL – Rosella drilling update” was erroneously sent with the recipients’ email addresses visible.  As a result, we inadvertently shared the email addresses of some of our subscribers with others.  We apologise for the error and any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Metgasco has controls on the release of data in place and will review and increase them to prevent any error of this kind in future.

Again, our apology for any inconvenience caused.

Regards

Peter J Henderson | Managing Director and CEO
Direct:  +61 2 9923 9104
Mobile:  +61 416 007 824


Sally MacManus on the subject of Tracking Abbott's Wreckage


Sally MacManus is Secretary of the Australian Services Union in NSW and the ACT and has a blog called Unions. Politics. And Stuff.

This is her list (with links to media reports) tracking Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s political, economic and social wreckage:
130. Begins dismantling GP Super clinics – 8 April 2014
129. Cuts 480 jobs from the Environment Department who are responsible for protecting places such as Kakadu, Antarctica and the Great Barrier Reef – 7 April 2014
128. Forbids public servants from making political comments online, even anonymously, and instructs them to report on colleagues who do – 6 April 2014
127. Establishes a secret, publicly funded “hit squad” to target political opponents led by the man who provided a “chaff bag” for Alan Jones to auction at a Young Liberal fundraiser – 1 April 2014
126. Imposes fees and charges on people who become bankrupt – 1 April 2014 
125. Axes free legal assistance for asylum seekers – 31 March 2014
124. Defunds Ethical Clothing Australia that worked with industry to protect outworkers in the textile and clothing industry from exploitation and abandons the Governments ethical procurement guidelines  -  30 March 2014
123. Opposes a UN resolution to conduct war crimes inquiry in Sri Lanka – 28 March 2014
122. Closes all Medicare offices on Saturdays – 26 March 2014
121. Brings back the awards of knights and dames which were abolished in 1986 – 25 March 2014
120. Cuts 400 jobs from the industry department – 25 March 2014
119. Ensures a human rights enquiry into the Manus Island detention centre is shut down and human rights lawyers are denied access to the centre – 23 March 2014
118. Abolishes one third of the jobs in Treasury costing approximately 300 jobs – 21 March 2014
117. Cuts welfare payments to orphans of soldiers –  16 March 2014
116. Moves to deny funding to artists or events that refuse corporate sponsorship for ethical reasons – 15 March 2014
115. Cuts hundreds of jobs at the CSIRO – 14 March 2014
114. Reopens 457 visa loophole to allow employers to hire an unlimited number of workers without scrutiny – 12 March 2014
113. Overturns a ban on cattle grazing in the Victorian Alpine National Park – 6 March 2014
112. Frustrated and defeated an attempt at the UN to highlight the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war – 5 March 2014
111. Axes funding earmarked to save the Sumatran rhinoceros from extinction – 28 February 2014
110. Introduces legislation to allow people aged between 17-24 years old to work for half the minimum wage and be exempted from all other work rights including health and safety laws and protections should they be injured at work – 26 February 2014  
109. Misleads the Australian public about what occurred on Manus Island when asylum seekers were attacked killing one person and injuring seventy-seven. Once the information was known to be untrue, waited five days to correct the record - 25 February 2014
108. Contravenes 113 years of established practice by moving to release the previous Government’s confidential cabinet papers to the Royal Commission into the Pink Batts scheme – 22 February 2014
107. Scraps food grants program for small farmers – 21 February 2014
106. Pressured SPC Ardmona to cut the pay and conditions for workers in return for Government money – 20 February 2014
105. Blames carbon pricing for the close of Alcoa smelters and rolling mills and the loss of nearly 1000 jobs, despite the fact the company states it had no bearing on their decision –19 February 2014
104. Breaches the privacy and puts in danger around 10, 000 asylum seekers and their families by releasing their personal details on the Department of Immigration website – 19 February 2014
103. Fails to ensure the safety of asylum seekers in our care on Manus Island who were subjected to a vicious attack, which left one person dead and seventy-seven seriously injured  – 18 February 2014
102. Reverses the previous government’s decision to care for refugee children who are without an adult family member (ie unaccompanied minors) in the community and sends them to detention centres in Nauru – 17 February 2014
101. Appoints a climate change sceptic to head a review of our renewable energy target –17 February 2014 
100. Pays hundreds of indigenous workers in his Department up to $19 000 less than non-indigenous workers doing the same job and cuts the budget for the representative body the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples causing two-thirds of the staff to lose their jobs – 15 February 2014
99. Breaks a promise to provide fibre-to-the-premises for all Tasmanians for the National Broadband Network – 13 February 2014
98. Unemployment rate jumps to highest in more than 10 years – 13 February 2014
97. Lies to the Australian public about the reasons Toyota gave for their decision to close in order to blame the workers and their union – 12 February 2014
96. Takes down a website providing information to the Australian public on the ingredients and nutritional content of foods. It is later revealed that the person in the Minister’s office who gave this directive is married to a lobbyist  from the junk food industry and was still a share holder in their lobbying company – 11 February 2014 
95. Destroys the Australian car manufacturing industry by refusing to provide any industry assistance leading to the decision of Toyota to shut costing up to 30 000 jobs – 10 February 2014
94. Launches a Royal Commission into unions – 10 February 2014
93. Attempts to reintroduce temporary visas for asylum seekers found to be fleeing persecution preventing them ever settling in Australia and retrospectively applies them to 20 000 people. This is stopped in the Senate twice by the ALP and The Greens – 7 February 2014
92. Supports a reduction of penalty rates and other Award minimums in a submission to the Fair Work Commission’s review of all Awards – 4 February 2014
91. Lies to the Australian public about the wages and working conditions of factory workers at SPC Ardmona in Shepparton and uses this incorrect information to blame them for their job insecurity – 4 February 2014
90. Launches an “efficiency study” into ABC and the SBS - 30 January 2014
89. Cuts the wages of Australian troops deployed overseas by almost $20 000 per solider –29 January 2014
88. Intervenes on the side of Toyota to support cutting Australian workers wages and conditions – 28 January 2014
87. Privatises the 104 year old Australian Valuation Office costing nearly 200 jobs – 24 January 2014
86. Seeks to wind back the World Heritage listing of Tasmania’s forests – 23 January 2014
85. Withdraws funding for an early intervention program to help vulnerable young people – 22 January 2014
84. Exempts Western Australia from national environment laws to facilitate shark culling –21 January 2014
83. Defunds all international environmental programs, the International Labour Organisation and cuts funding to a range of international aid programs run by NGOs such as Save the Children, Oxfam, CARE Australia and Caritas – 18 January 2014
82. Violates Indonesia’s territorial sovereignty while turning back asylum seeker boats – 17 January 2014
81. Politicises the national school curriculum by appointing a former Liberal staffer and a Coalition supporter, both critics of the current curriculum to conduct a review - 10 January 2014.
80. Directs that people already found to be refugees who arrived by boat be given the lowest priority for family reunion - 8 January 2014
79. Fails to contradict or take any action against a member of his government, Senator Cory Bernardi, who makes divisive statements about: abortion, “non-traditional” families and their children, same sex couples, couples who use IVF and calls for parts of WorkChoices to be reintroduced - 6 January 2014
78. Devastates Australia’s contribution to overseas aid by cutting $4.5 billion from the budget, causing vital programs supporting those in extreme poverty in our region to collapse - 1 January 2014
77. Drastically reduces tax breaks for small business and fails to publicise it - 1 January 2014
76. Appoints Tim Wilson, a Liberal Party member and Policy Director of a right-wing think tank to the position of Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission even though this think tank argued for the Commission to be abolished – 23 December 2013 
75. Approves private health fund premium increases of an average 6.2% a year – 23 December 2013
74. Breaks his promise to provide the promised customs vessel to monitor whaling operations in the Southern Ocean – 23 December 2013 
73. Requests the delisting of World Heritage status for Tasmanian forests – 21 December 2013 
72. Breaks a promise to make no cuts to health by cutting $150 million from hospital and health services – 17 December 2013.
71. Scraps the Home Energy Saver Scheme which helps struggling low income households cut their electricity bills - 17 December 2013
70. Defunds the Public Interest Advocacy Centre whose objectives are to work for a fair, just and democratic society by taking up legal cases public interest issues - 17 December 2013
69. Defunds the Environmental Defenders Office which is a network of community legal centres providing free advice on environmental law - 17 December 2013
68. Axes funding for animal welfare - 17 December 2013
67. Breaks his election promise of no cuts to education by cutting funding for trade training centres in schools – 17 December 2013
66. Abolishes the AusAID graduate program costing 38 jobs - 17 December 2013
65. Cuts Indigenous legal services by $13.4 million. This includes $3.5 million from front line domestic violence support services, defunding the National legal service and abolishing all policy and law reform positions across the country   - 17 December 2013
64. Abolishes the position of co-ordinator-general for remote indigenous services - 17 December 2013
63. Breaks his promise to unequivocally support the NDIS by changing the name of  NDIS “launch sites” to “trial sites” and flags cuts to funding – 17 December 2013 
62. Abolishes the National Office for Live Music along with the live music ambassadors - 17 December 2013
61. Cuts $2.5 million from community radio – 17 December 2013 
60. Weakens the ministerial code of conduct to let ministers keep shares in companies - 16 December 2013
59. Disbands the independent Immigration Health Advisory Group for asylum seekers – 16 December 2013 
58. Dumps the National Occupational Licensing Scheme which was designed to increase productivity by making it easier for skilled workers to work interstate – 14 December 2013
57. Axes $4.5 million from charities and community groups for the Building Multicultural Communities Program – 13 December 2013
56. Starts dismantling Australia’s world leading marine protection system - 13 December 2013 
55. Scraps the COAG Standing Council on Environment and Water – 13 December 2013 
54. Breaks his NBN election promise of giving all Australians access to 25 megabits per second download speeds by 2016 – 12 December 2013  
53. Overturns the “critically endangered” listing of the Murray Darling Basin - 11 December 2013
52. Dares Holden to leave Australia. Holden responds by announcing its closure which costs Australians tens of thousands of jobs – 11 December 2013 
51. Approves Clive Palmer’s mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin which opponents say will severely damage Great Barrier Reef - 11 December 2013
50. Demands that the few childcare workers who got pay rises “hand them back” – 10 December 2013 
49. Approves the largest coal port in the world in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area – 10 December 2013  
48. Removes the community’s right to challenge decisions where the government has ignored expert advice on threatened species impacts – 9 December 2013 
47. Downgrades national environment laws by giving approval powers to state premiers – 9 December 2013  
46. Undermines Australia’s democracy by signing a free trade agreement with South Korea allowing corporations to sue the Australian Government – 6 December 2013 
45. Damages our diplomatic relationship with our nearest neighbour East Timor – 5 December 2013 
44. Repeals the pokie reform legislation which was designed to combat problem gambling – 4 December 2013 
43. Suspends the Wage Connect program, despite it being proven to deliver good outcomes for unemployed people – 3 December 2013 
42. Axes funding to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia, forcing the 46 year old organisation to close. It is later revealed that  a staffer in the Assistant Health Minister’s office had links to the Alcohol Industry - 27 November 2013  
41. Breaks his promise to support Gonski and back flips three times – 25 November 2013  

40. Shifts Australia’s position at the UN on Israeli settlements - 25 November 2013
39. Damages our diplomatic relationship with the Indonesian Government by refusing to apologise for tapping the phones of their President, his wife and senior Government officials – 23 November 2013 
38. Converts crucial Start-Up Scholarships into loans, increasing the debt of 80,000 higher education students by $1.2 billion – 21 November 2013 
37. Gifts two navy patrol boats to the Sri Lankan government to stop asylum seekers fleeing the Sri Lankan government - 17 November 2013
36. Introduces a Bill to impose on workers who are elected onto unpaid union committees huge financial penalties and jail terms for breeches of new compliance obligations – 14 November 2013 
35. Condones torture by foreign governments by saying “sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen” – 14 November 2013 
34. Hides information from the Parliament and the people about the government’s treatment of asylum seekers – 13 November 2013
33. Separates a refugee mother from her newborn baby – 10 November 2013 
32. Cuts 600 jobs at the CSIRO - 8 November 2013
31. Abolishes Insurance Reform Advisory Group which provided a forum for industry and consumer bodies to discuss insurance industry reform - 8 November 2013
30. Abolishes the Maritime Workforce Development Forum which was an industry body working to build a sustainable skills base for the maritime industry - 8 November 2013
29. Abolishes the High Speed Rail Advisory Group whose job it was to advise Governments on the next steps on implementing high speed rail for eastern Australia - 8 November 2013
28. Abolishes the Advisory Panel on the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula which for 21 years ensured companies comply with agreements on the advertising  of infant formula - 8 November 2013 
27. Abolishes the Antarctic Animal Ethics Committee who ensured research on animals in the Antarctic complies with Australian standards - 8 November 2013
26. Abolished the National Steering Committee on Corporate Wrongdoing that for 21 years worked to make sure the law was effectively enforced on corporate criminals - 8 November 2013
25. Abolishes the National Inter-country Adoption Advisory Council which provided expert advice on overseas adoption - 8 November 2013
24. Abolishes International Legal Services Advisory Council which was responsible for working to improve the international performance of Australia’s legal services - 8 November 2013
23. Abolishes the Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council a group of experts in gun crime and firearms which was set up after the Port Arthur massacre - 8 November 2013
22. Abolishes Australian Animals Welfare Advisory Committee a diverse group of experts advising the Agriculture Minister on animal welfare issues - 8 November 2013
21. Abolishes the National Housing Supply Council which provided data and expert advice on housing demand, supply and affordability - 8 November 2013
20. Abolishes the  Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing, established to help address the challenges the country faces as the number of older Australians grows – 8 November 2013 
19. Refuses to offer support to manufacturing in  Tasmania, despite requests and warnings. Caterpillar announces the move of 200 jobs from Burnie to Thailand, costing around 1000 local jobs – 5 November 2013
18. Provides $2.2 million legal aid for farmers and miners to fight native title claims - 1 November 2013

17. Abolishes the 40 year old AusAID costing hundreds of jobs - 1 November 2013
16. Launches a successful High Court  challenge which strikes down the ACT Marriage Equality laws invalidating the marriages of many people and ensuring discrimination against same-sex couples continues – 23 October 2013 
15. Denies there is a link between climate change and more severe bush fires and accuses a senior UN official was “talking through their hat”  – 23 October 2013 
14. Appoints the head of the Business Council of Australia to a “Commission of Audit” to recommend cuts to public spending – 22 October 2013  
13. Cuts compensation to the victims of bushfires - 21 October 2013
12. Instructs public servants and detention centre staff to call asylum seekers “illegals” - 20 October 2013
11. Appoints Howard era Australian Building & Construction Commission (ABCC) Director to help reinstate the ABCC with all its previous oppressive powers over construction workers – 17 October 2013 
10. Axes the Major Cities Unit a Government agency with 10 staff which provided expert advice on urban issues in our 18 biggest cities - 24 September 2013
9. Breaks his promise to “stop the boats” – 23 September 2013  
8. Scraps the Social Inclusion Board, which had been established to guide policy on the reduction of poverty in Australia - 19 September 2013 
7. Abolishes the Climate Commission – 19 September 2013 
6. Appoints himself Minister for Women – 16 September 2013 
5. Appoints only one woman into his cabinet and blames the women for his decision, saying he appoints “on merit”– 16 September 2013 
4. Abolishes key ministerial positions of climate change and science – 16 September 2013 
3. Breaks his promise to spend his first week with an Aboriginal community -
14 September 2012
2. Takes away pay rises for childcare workers – 13 September 2013 
1. Takes away pay rises from aged care workers – 13 September 2013 
The Broken Promise Count
1. Does not spend his first week as Prime Minister with an Aboriginal community – 14 September 2013. This promise was made in front of indigenous elders and participants at the Garma Festival on 10 August 2013, this is a live recording.

2. Fails to “stop the boats” – 23 September 2013.   This promise was repeated so many times I can’t count. Here’s Abbott’s 2013 campaign launch speech.

3. Breaks his promise to support Gonski - 25 November 2013. Fails to commit to future funding or to require States to match the Commonwealth funding commitment. See paragraph two from Christopher Pyne on 29 August 2013
4. Breaks its NBN election promise of giving all Australians access to 25 megabits per second download speeds by 2016 – 12 December 2013   This was the Coalition’s policy they took to the election first announced 9 April 2013.
5. Changes name of  NDIS “launch sites” to “trial sites” and flags cuts to funding – 17 December 2013.  The unequivical promise to deliver the NDIS in full was made 20 August 2013 and is in the policies they took to the election
6. Breaks his election promise of no cuts to education by cutting funding for trade training centres in schools on 17 December 2013. He made this promise at the National Press Club on 2 September 2013 and in writing on 5 September 2013 as part of their policy commitments.
7. Breaks a promise to make no cuts to health. He made this promise at the National Press Club on 2 September 2013 and in writing on 5 September 2013 as part of their policy commitments. This promise was first broken on 27 November 2013 when they cut funding to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council and again on 17 December 2013 when they cut $150 million from hospitals and health services. 
8. Fails to provide the promised customs vessel to monitor whaling operations in the Southern Ocean – 23 December 2013 Promise made by Greg Hunt - 9 April 2013
9. Breaks a promise to provide fibre-to-the-premises for all Tasmanians for the National Broadband Network. This promise was confirmed my Malcolm Turnbull on 17 August 2013and confirmed as broken by the NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski on 13 February 2014.