Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Uniting Church in Australia Assembly to sell-off all fossil fuel investments

Uniting Church in Australia Assembly media release 29 August 2014:

Assembly to divest from fossil fuels
Friday, 29 August 2014

The Uniting Church in Australia Assembly has resolved to divest from investments in corporations engaged in the extraction of fossil fuels.

Uniting Church President Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney has welcomed the resolution of the Assembly Standing Committee, calling the decision an important act of public witness.

“As Christians we are called to respect and care for the whole of creation,” said Rev. Prof. Dutney.

“Wth national governments reluctant to take difficult decisions, it falls to us as members of the body of Christ to show leadership in taking action to reduce damaging pollution.”

“To avoid damaging climate change we must move quickly to a clean energy economy. The Uniting Church recognises that continued investment in fossil fuel industries does not support the change needed.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans.

A recent IPCC report concluded that there are still opportunities to respond to the risks of climate change, although these risks will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming.
“The future depends on countries like Australia making a strong, unequivocal commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rev. Prof. Dutney.

“Our partner churches in the small island states have been calling on Australia to take seriously the threat to their futures. We simply must act. This is a matter of social, environmental, and intergenerational justice.”

The Assembly Standing Committee resolution follows similar decisions on divestment by the Synod of NSW and ACT in April 2013 and the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania in February 2014.

Rev. Professor Dutney has congratulated these councils of the Uniting Church in Australia for their leadership.

“We commend this course of action to other Uniting Church entities as they make their investment decisions as well as to our ecumenical partners,” said Rev. Prof. Dutney.

Beware the Secret State

The Australian 8 August 2014:

In 2004 the Howard government decided to take stock, commissioning a wide-ranging inquiry by respected former official Phillip Flood. Beyond recommending better language skills for ASIS and beefing up ONA’s budget, he found the level of resourcing “sufficient”. “Resources available to ASIS are appropriate for its mandate,” he said, for instance.

Since then ASIO’s budget, the largest of the group, has jumped from around $150 million and 700 staff to about $600m and 1780 staff this year. The budget of ASIS, the only federal agency not to disclose staff numbers, has tripled to about $300m. So much for Flood’s “sufficient” conclusion! ONA’s has grown from about $15m to $50m.

The Coalition government — of “budget emergency” fame — this week announced it wants to toss another $630m into the ballooning budgets to stamp out and hinder “home-grown terrorism and Australians who participate in terrorist activities overseas”.

But it refers to no analysis beyond the agencies themselves asking for more money and power. Using the “security” mantra to justify more money for intelligence services is no different from using “fairness” to justify the inane Schoolkids Bonus.

Spending on the six abovementioned agencies ignores the mammoth growth in the Australian Federal Police. Although state governments are constitutionally responsible for law and order, AFP ranks have swelled from 1327 a decade ago to about 6400 this year; its annual budget has more than doubled to $1.6bn. It has proved a costly egg hurled at PM Billy Hughes in 1917.

The welfare state has triumphed. Its successor, the security state, is the next likely incarnation of modern democratic government, one that slowly chips away at longstanding liberties and absorbs more and more public money in the vaguely reassuring name of “security”.

Monday, 1 September 2014

NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption Operation Spicer Witness List for week commencing 1 September 2014 -UPDATED

NSW ICAC Operation Spicer witness list for week commencing 1 September 2014

Monday 1 September 2014

Joe Tripodi - former NSW Labor MP for Fairfield and Minister for Ports and Waterways, in 2010 announced that he would not stand at the 2011 state election after corruption allegations made in ICAC Operation Cyrus hearings concerning his actions as minister
Ross Cadell - NSW Nationals regional co-ordinator, director at R & S Cadell Pty Ltd, manages the trading arm of family businesses including Tiny Tutus Pty Ltd, Tutu Central and P1 Race Engineering 
Kristina Keneally - former Labor MP for Heffron and former NSW Premier
Ian McNamara - chief of staff to Opposition Leader John Robertson, stood aside while Operation Spicer continues
Eric Roozendaal - former NSW Labor MLC for and NSW Treasurer, suspended from the Labor Party in 2012 during an ICAC investigation into an inducement he accepted, resigned from Parliament in 2013, now working for a Chinese development company

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Mike Fleming – former chief of staff to then NSW Labor MLC, former Minister for Lands and later Shadow Minister for Resources and Primary Production who he resigned from parliament after an ICAC investigation found that he had acted corruptly when Minister for Lands Removed from this week's list
Eric Roozendaal - former NSW Labor MLC for and NSW Treasurer, suspended from the Labor Party in 2012 during an ICAC investigation into an inducement he accepted, resigned from Parliament in 2013, now working for a Chinese development company
Chris Hartcher - former NSW Liberal Party MP for Terrigal and former NSW Resources and Energy now sitting on the cross benches as an independent MP after expulsion from the party
Mark Regent - Buildev project manager on the Redbank North Richmond Joint Venture regional housing project
Bart Basset - NSW Liberal MP for Londonderry who moved to the cross bench after ICAC commissioner Megan Latham announced that new evidence had emerged to widen the inquiry's scope to examine whether Nathan Tinkler's firm Buildev tried to influence Mr Bassett

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Gary Edwards -  NSW Liberal MP for Swansea on 14 August 2014 announced he had moved to the cross bench, after allegations during evidence that he had received an unlawful political donation
Michael Gallacher - NSW Liberal MLC who resigned as Minister for Police and Emergency Services on 2 May 2014 after being named as one of the subjects of ICAC’s Operation Spicer investigation, suspended from the Liberal Party and moved to the cross bench
Craig Baumann - NSW Liberal MP for Port Stephens previously mentioned in evidence given during Operation Spicer.

Thursday 4 September 2014

Robert Milner – chairman of Washington H Soul Pattinson & Company Limitedchairman and major shareholder in Brickworks Ltd
Lee Brinkmeyer - political donor to NSW Liberal Party in 2006, possibly related to land speculator and former president of the Queanbeyan branch of the Liberal Party Alex Brinkmeyer
Victor Lee - unknown
Mark Ryan  director of public affairs at Westfield Corporation and a director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy 
Lindsay PartridgeLiberal Party member, Austral Bricks managing director and CEO at Brickworks Ltd which are part-owned by Washington H Soul Pattinson & Company Limited
Robert Webster  Korn Ferry chairman, Brickworks Ltd independent director and former NSW Nationals planning minister

Friday 5 September 2014

Mark Neeham - former State Director of the New South Wales Liberal Party
Simon McInnes - Finance Director of the New South Wales Liberal Party
Paul Nicolaou was principal fundraiser for the New South Wales Liberal Party, former chairman of the Liberal Party fundraising associated entity Millennium Forum, former chief executive of the NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association

Candidate in Labor's Ballina community preselection pledges to reject political donations from gas industry, science deniers, unethical companies & banks

Keith Williams Media Release 29 August 2014:

Keith Williams, candidate in Labor's Ballina community preselection, has announced self-imposed rules on donations and fundraising to address what he calls the disturbing influence of money in politics.

In what he claims is an Australian first, Mr Williams has published a campaign budget, excluded a wide range of potential donors and limited the maximum donation he will accept to $500 per person.

"We must end this preoccupation with raising funds so we can outspend our political opponents. It's a cancer. Instead of being a contest of ideas, politics is reduced to a battle of marketing budgets."

He said the continuing revelations of the Independent Commission Against Corruption had made him stop and think before deciding to put his hand up for preselection. "Did I really want to enter a world where your ability to raise funds is seemingly more important than your contribution to public debate? I decided I would, but on my terms."

Mr Williams says publishing his Ethics Policy before commencing fundraising was an important first step. "It's about taking personal responsibility and saying I won't be a part of that system."

"I'm not so naive as to think I can campaign without funds, so I have set clear rules around what I believe is acceptable." 

"I don't believe anyone should be running for public office and accepting donations from a business or person that could benefit from their influence.  Voters need to know that you are beholden to them and them alone."

"My own sense of ethics also tells me that I don't want to accept donations from those that abuse vulnerable people, cause ill-health or environmental destruction, lie or cheat. Defining what I meant by that was probably the hardest part of the whole process"

Mr Williams believes people are heartily sick of seeing politicians quote the law when challenged about their behaviour. He cites the recent example of Joe Hockey claiming $270 a night in expenses to stay in a Canberra house owned by his wife. "It may be legal, but it certainly isn't ethical."

"There are a lot of things I'd like to achieve in politics.  Better care for those with mental illness, ridding our ocean of plastic and creating sustainable jobs in this community are just a few of the things on my list. But unless we insist on higher ethical standards in politics we will be fighting the carpetbaggers and rent seekers every step of the way."

"The advantage of community preselections, such as this one for Ballina, is that is gives candidates an opportunity to talk about issues like ethics, without the usual "he said, she said" of party political debate. 

"This is an exciting time to be a member of the Labor Party. Things are changing. You can feel it. I'm proud to be a part of that change."

Voting in the Ballina preselection opens on Monday.


I am standing for election because I want to change what is happening to politics in Australia.
Ethics is not about the Law. It's about personal responsibility and values.
These are my ethics and values.

Ethical Conduct Policy

This policy outlines my personal commitment to electors.  It will govern the conduct of my campaign for Labor Party Preselection and, if successful, as the Labor Party Candidate for the state seat of Ballina. It is also my commitment to electors if I am bestowed the honour of representing the electorate in Parliament.

My Pledge

I shall at all times act with honesty and integrity.
I will do no favours nor accept any gifts that may create a future obligation.
I shall speak out against corruption. I will remember, "The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept".  I will not remain silent, regardless of who it is.
I will respect my community. I will work with the community and its representatives to develop practical solutions to the problems we face.
I will respect community choices. Ballina and Byron (and our many other towns) are different communities and have different needs and priorities. I will remember that we don't all want the same thing.
I will conduct myself politely and with consideration for others at all times.

My Commitments

To ensure a transparent approach to all fundraising activities.
To comply with all electoral funding law requirements.
To comply with all Labor Party Rules regarding fundraising.
To provide certainty to electors that their representative is beholden to them and them alone.
To enable sufficient funds to be raised to inform electors of the principles, values and policies I represent.
To run an election campaign that focuses on ideas to improve our community, meet the needs of the vulnerable, ensure that good quality health and education are available to all, create employment and protect our environment.

My Rules

In addition to any and all other NSW legal requirements* the campaign will:
  • Not accept donations greater than $500 in any one instance or from one individual in total. 
  • Not accept donations from any company or associated persons that are reliant on a Government (Local, State or Federal) Lease or Licence for its primary business operation.
    • Eg. Mining & Petroleum, Banks, Operators of Utilities (power & water), Commercial Fishers, Forestry, Licensed tourism operators in Public Spaces (National Parks), etc.
  • Not accept donations from any company or associated persons that are engaged in unethical conduct that contributes to:
    • The inhumane treatment of vulnerable people,
    • Human ill health and suffering,
    • Destruction or pollution of the habitat of threatened species,
    • The denial of science and basic fact, or
    • Other misleading or deceptive conduct.
*Developers, Gambling & Tobacco interests are already excluded.  Other suggested exclusions are welcome. 
Any amounts received in excess of the above limits or that can not be verified as complying with the above exclusions will be forwarded to the Ballina Branch of St Vincent De Paul to use at their discretion to assist people experiencing homelessness.

My Campaign 

The campaign will focus on the issues and ideas relevant to our community. No resources will be directed towards negative advertising targeting political opponents.
The total Preselection Campaign budget is $4,000 comprising;
Printed materials, including flyers $1000
Community Radio Sponsorships $800
Ads in local newspapers $800
Signage     $500
Volunteer supplies  $500
Venue hire    $400
This budget will be subject to change.  An up to date version of the budget will be maintained on the Ethics Page on my website at www.keithwill.com
This Policy is open for comment and revision. If I have missed something, please let me know via email at: keith@keithwill.com 

Keith Williams
Ballina Community Preselection
Australian Labor Party

Has 'Captain Catholic' and his merry band of Christian fascisti finally wrecked a proud tradition of secular public education in Australia?

The Sydney Morning Herald 27 August 2014:

The Abbott government is pushing ahead with a religious-only school chaplaincy scheme following a cabinet debate over whether secular welfare workers should be included in the program.

The government was forced to redesign the $224 million scheme after the High Court ruled it invalid in June for the second time in two years. The court found the Commonwealth had over-reached its funding powers by providing direct payments to chaplain providers.

In a bid to prevent another High Court challenge, the federal government will provide funding to state and territory governments to administer the scheme. This new arrangement strengthens the hand of the states and could see some demand an option for secular welfare workers or tougher qualification standards.

In a cabinet meeting on Monday, Abbott government ministers explored options to extend the scheme to include funding for secular welfare workers. This would have reversed the government's existing policy that funding should be restricted to religious chaplains. 

During the cabinet discussion, Mr Abbott argued that the government should stand by its existing policy. Mr Abbott argued the scheme's original intent was supporting pastoral care in schools and that should remain its focus….

The chaplaincy scheme was introduced by the Howard government in 2006. Labor expanded the scheme to include funding for secular welfare workers in 2011 – an option the government scrapped in this year's budget.

Both challenges in the High Court were brought forward by Toowoomba father Ron Williams, a secularist opposed to public funding for religious workers in public schools.

The government rushed forward its announcement about the new scheme on Wednesday afternoon after Fairfax Media revealed the story online. The government had hoped to avoid a distracting debate on chaplains during the introduction of its sweeping higher education changes into Parliament on Thursday.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

On the 347th day since he was sworn in as Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has this country participating in someone else's civil war

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a minister in the Howard federal government when Australia formed part of the unlawful invasion force in Iraq 2003.

This invasion created the circumstances which led to the current Iraq civil war.

Now Tony Abbott has abandoned any pretence of reluctance and on 31 August 2014 has committed this country to entering this civil war as a military participant delivering weapons to one side in the sectarian armed conflict.

Hypocritically calling this entry into the war a humanitarian mission.

All because he and his government are increasingly unpopular with the majority of voters at home and he hopes to deflect them with jingoism, fifes and drums.

Is fast food giant McDonald's finally paying the price for its arrogance?

There were probably many Yamba residents muttering “I told you so” under their breaths after reading this in The Sydney Morning Herald on 10 August 2014:

Sales at McDonald's have recorded their worst results in over 10 years.
Global sales at the fast food giant dropped 2.5 per cent in June and July.
Not since March 2003, when global sales plunged 3.7 per cent in consecutive months, has the world's biggest restaurant chain suffered such losses.
Australia is part of McDonald's Asia Pacific Middle East and Africa operation, which was the worst performing sector in the second quarter of 2014. Its sales declined 7.3 per cent.  
After similarly disappointing first quarter results, Australia was singled out as a poor performing market in April…..

One aspect of the Australian psyche the multinational fast food chain, McDonald’s, never grasped – if you force yourselves on our communities we tend not to buy your product.

In particular I suspect that the amount of national publicity the Telcoma protestors managed to garner is beginning to impact on many household fast food choices around the country.

Which makes one wonder if the fast food giant’s McDelivery trial will also fall flat on its face in Australia.


The Abbott Family spin cycle continues - this time about the clothes they wear

 Second-hand rose: Margie Abbott in the Salvation Army store in Manly after launching National Op Shop Week on Saturday. 
Photo: Daniel Munoz/Getty Images. The Sydney Morning Herald 23 August 014.

If Margie Abbott regularly purchased clothing at op shops it was a long, long time ago.

This is an image of the Abbott family on federal election night in September 2013; in garb which had come straight from dress designers and probably a bespoke tailor.

Margie Abbott is wearing a custom made Veronica Al Khoury dress, the daughters apparently wearing outfits from Toni Maticevsk and, the man in the centre of this photograph has of course been receiving tailored suits and high quality shirts and ties as ‘gifts’ from one of his supporters, Les Taylor, for a number of years.

All one has to do is trawl though Google Images to find multiple examples of the fact that op shops are alien to the Abbott family.