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.

Australian PM Tony Abbott blatantly lies to the Australian Parliament: "I never said that"



Deliberately misleading the House

May states:
The Commons may treat the making of a deliberately misleading statement as a contempt. In 1963 the House resolved that in making a personal statement which contained words which he later admitted not to be true, a former Member had been guilty of a grave contempt.127 (Profumo’s Case, CJ (1962–63) 246)

The circumstances surrounding the decision of the House of Commons in Profumo’s Case are of importance because of the guidance provided in cases of alleged misrepresentation by Members. Mr Profumo had sought the opportunity of making a personal statement to the House of Commons to deny the truth of allegations currently being made against him. Later he was forced to admit that in making his personal statement of denial to the House, he had deliberately misled the House. As a consequence of his actions, he resigned from the House which subsequently agreed to a resolution declaring him guilty of a grave contempt.....


A tale of three federal opinion polls


Same subject and two polls show a similar two-party preferred result.


March 23 2015

Finding No. 6138

Topic: Federal Poll Public Opinion

Finding No. 6138– This multi-mode Morgan Poll on Federal voting intention was conducted via face-to-face and SMS interviewing over the last two weekends, March 14/15 & 21/22, 2015 with an Australia-wide cross-section of 3,146 Australian electors aged 18+, of all electors surveyed 2% did not name a party.

ALP support increased to 56% (up 2.5%), still well clear of the L-NP 44% (down 2.5%) on a two-party preferred basis.  If a Federal Election were held now the ALP would win according to this week’s Morgan Poll on voting intention conducted over the last two weekends, March 14/15 & 21/22, 2015, with an Australia-wide cross-section of 3,146 Australian electors aged 18+.

Primary support for the ALP increased to 40% (up 2%) now ahead of the L-NP 38% (down 1%). Support for the other parties shows The Greens at 11% (down 0.5%), Palmer United Party (PUP) 1.5% (down 0.5%) while Independents/ Others were 9.5% (unchanged).

Support for PUP is highest in Western Australia (4%) and Tasmania (4%) with little support in all other States following the defection of Queensland PUP Senator Glenn Lazarus last week to become an Independent Senator alongside his former party colleague Jacqui Lambie, now an Independent Tasmanian Senator.

Essential Research 24 March 2015:




This report summarises the results of a weekly omnibus conducted by Essential Research with data provided by Your Source. The survey was conducted online from the 20th to 23rd March and is based on 1,012 respondents.

While the third poll shows a very different two-party preferred result.

Newspoll 23 March 2015:


Saturday, 28 March 2015

NSW State Election 2015: links to Virtual Tally Room, online radio & live TV commentary


NSW Electoral Commission Virtual Tally Room - online from 6 pm AEDT with progressive figures displayed. XML format figures at ftp.elections.nsw.gov.au.

ABC News 24 Election Centre - from 6pm AEDT onwards.

ABC Radio 702 Sydney - election night cover.


Hashtag - #nswvotes

ABC Election Calculator - predictive tool which gives number of Coalition & Labor seats based on percentage swings.

The Sydney Morning Herald NSW Decides  and ABC NSW Votes – online reading before the polling booths close.

Sausage Sizzle Locator - for the hungry

Being a female politician in Australia....


It helps to have a sense of humour.

This is The Greens' Senator Sarah Hanson-Young

https://youtu.be/3KKLN4J6gXc

In which Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop suffers silently


Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey tries the patience of his colleague, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, when in the middle of what was supposed to be a tribute to the late Malcolm Fraser he alluded to the current razor gang within the party which has so enthusiastically reduced her department's foreign aid budget.

ABC Vine 23 March 2015:

Of course, he was the great initiator—and we will be forever thankful—of the Expenditure Review Committee. That committee has endured, much to the chagrin of my colleagues. But it has endured and it is one of his many lasting legacies.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Will Far North Coast voters significantly change the composition of the NSW Legislative Assembly tomorrow?


The NSW Legislative Assembly as of 27 March 2015:

Graphic from The Australian 

All members of the Assembly by name (alphabetical order) here.

What is at stake for the NSW North Coast tomorrow?

The ability to protect our:

1. farm land from industrialisation by the gas industry;

2. rivers and water supplies from being depleted and/or contaminated by the mining industry;

3. local economies from the effects of Points 1 & 2;

4. state-owned native forests and remnant forest in private hands from clear fell logging or over clearing due to the current state government's ongoing dismantling of environmental protections;

5. communities and local councils from increases in electricity costs flowing from the proposed removal of high-voltage transmission lines from public ownership for the next 4 generations of North Coast families;

6. older people from loss of affordable services to assist them to live at home in their communities due to the current state government's intention to sell Home Services of NSW to an as yet unidentified multinational company combined with the federal government's increased cost to clients of federal home care services including Meals-On-Wheels;

7. TAFE colleges from further teaching cuts so that young people are able to train across a wide range of trades and professions;

8. local legal aid services from further funding cuts through state imposed efficiency and other ‘savings’;

9. regional state government agencies from closure or downsizing so that job losses don’t become entrenched;

10. our local governments from eventually being turned into one large super council reaching from the NSW-Qld border down into the Great Southern Lakes region; and

11. families, villages, towns, and farming communities from local state MPs who have stopped fighting on our behalf or never even began to effectively represent their electorates in the NSW Parliament.

Is NSW Premier Baird trying to hide the Chinese connection in his electricity network privatisation plans?


The Sydney Morning Herald 26 March 2015:

A Chinese government-owned energy company that is a potential buyer of NSW electricity assets, State Grid Corp, was the subject of a "major" state audit last year which uncovered allegations of corruption amounting to more than $1 billion.

As Premier Mike Baird on Wednesday was asked more questions about the company and its dealings with the NSW government it has emerged that State Grid Corp's president, Liu Zhenya, was named as a key focus of the probe.

Mr Baird's office confirmed that a State Grid Corp executive, Shu Yinbiao, was one of those present at a business roundtable addressed by Mr Baird during his trip to China in September, not its president Mr Liu as previously advised……

However, the Wall Street Journal said in June the audit, which also involved another state-owned electricity company, China Southern Power Grid Company, focused on contracts for a west-to-east electricity transmission system.

The newspaper said China's national audit agency alleged that "more than $1 billion was misappropriated in less than four months [during 2013] in the construction and running of portions of a major electricity grid system".

Asked if Mr Baird knew about the revelations before his China visit, his office said it had "no further comment".

Fairfax Media can reveal that State Grid Corp's attendance at a roundtable addressed by Mr Baird was omitted from an official report on his trade trip to China last year.

Mr Baird on Wednesday repeatedly refused to detail meetings held during the trip to China last September, which aimed to drum up interest in NSW infrastructure projects.

The Coalition government's plan to partially lease the electricity "poles and wires" and spend the proceeds on infrastructure is the centrepiece of its re-election campaign…..

Under Mr Baird's reforms to political lobbying, ministers are required to publish details of external meetings.

But on Wednesday Mr Baird said the rules did not apply to trips abroad, saying "there's a different process for international trips, that's well established".

A spokesman for Mr Baird later said the Department of Premier and Cabinet had been advised that details of ministers' meetings on official overseas missions "should not be disclosed through the ministerial diary process as there is appropriate disclosure of such meetings through mission reports".

However the mission report from Mr Baird's China trip does not mention a meeting with State Grid Corp.

Asked later on Wednesday why the meeting was omitted, Mr Baird said he had complied with disclosure obligations for overseas trips.

At the news conference he declined to say who else was at the September roundtable meeting.

"I am not going to go into individual meetings. As Treasurer and Premier I met with hundreds if not thousands [of potential investors]. My job is to encourage investment into NSW," he said…..

Not impressed by Liberal-Nationals plan to privatise NSW electricity networks across the NSW Northern Rivers


Letters to the Editor in The Daily Examiner on 23 March 2015: 

Whole truth 

On March 15, NSW Nationals Leader Troy Grant was quoted in the national media as stating of the Baird Government's electricity privatisation plan that: "Country poles and wires will remain 100 per cent in public hands".

On June 13, 2014, the Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, was quoted in The Daily Examiner: "With Essential Energy exempt from the deal it will remain in public hands and retain control of the poles and lines".

Both politicians are not being as truthful as they could be.

Power to businesses and homes on the NSW North Coast does not just magically flow from Essential Energy.

What Grant and Gulaptis are not saying is that an estimated 12,700km of high voltage transmission lines and 94 substations which criss-cross the state are part of the state-owned Transgrid network and these will be offered for sale with a price tag in the billions for the 99-year lease. Transgrid's transmission lines supply electricity to "electricity distributors such as AusGrid, Essential Energy and Endeavour Energy" [www.transgrid.com.au, March 2015].

In other words, the main conveyer of power to regional electricity networks in the Clarence, Richmond, Brunswick and Tweed valleys will be effectively sold-off if National Party candidates standing in the Clarence, Lismore, Ballina and Tweed electorates succeed in winning these seats on March 28.

This will eventually translate into price increases for local business and residential users, because a privatised Transgrid will not absorb the future cost of infrastructure maintenance/replacement and will pass this cost through to Essential Energy in its contract rate [TransGrid's Transmission Prices July 1 2014 to June 30 2015].

Judith M. Melville
Yamba

People to pay

Regarding Brian Haselum's letter (March 18), I believe the proceeds from the privatisation of our electricity is to be spent on new infrastructure.

This will result in a shortfall of the State Government's income by around $1.7 billion per annum.

Whether it is electricity prices that go up or something else, it will be the people of NSW who will have pay for the Government's annual shortfall.

People should keep this in mind when they vote on the 28th.

Trevor West
South Grafton

NSW State Election 2015: Not happy, Mike!


Letter to the Editor in The Northern Star, 24 March 2015:

Poles apart

The NSW Lib/Nat state government wants to privatise the electricity network by leasing the distribution network for 99 years.

Most NSW residents will therefore never again see it in public hands and when the lease expires in 2114 it would probably get renewed for another 99 years meaning it will never return to public ownership.

The state will not benefit financially for another 99 years after blowing the original booty on a stack of hasty re-election promises.

As with all privatisation of the people's assets, staff are sacked, service declines and prices rise, just look to Telstra.

When Telstra was in government hands they were Australia's biggest employer and there were works yards in every town with trucks, tractors and local qualified Telstra linesmen ready to attend promptly to faults and new installations.

Now that is all gone, mostly contractors do the work, employment and training of school leavers has all but stopped, service doesn't exist and prices have risen.

The NSW Lib/Nat government claims we will not be affected on the Far North Coast, however Transgrid which supplies most of our power from the high voltage distribution network will be 100% privatised.

Maybe when the electricity prices go up we can resort to using the methane bubbling out of the ground for heating and cooking once the government covers our land in leaking CSG wells.

GARRY OWERS
Meerschaum Vale

Letter to the Editor in The Daily Examiner, 25 March 2015:
MP loses trust
BEFORE you vote remember that once the electricity network is sold off it's gone for good, and no amount of bleating from our ineffective member Chris Gulaptis is going to get it back or stop the Sydney-based liberals selling off Essential Energy at a latter date.
This is the same member for Clarence who had to clarify with his party who he represented over the closing of the Grafton goal, i.e. his party or the people who elected him.
How can he be trusted to look after his electorate?
How can he be trusted again?
Paul Macdermott
Lawrence

Letter to the Editor in The Northern Star, 25 March 2015:

Poles an asset

Why sell a publicly owned monopoly guaranteeing a $1.7 billion return every year?
Privatising publicly owned utilities like electricity assets and water supplies puts states at risk of being held to ransom, especially if foreign owned (e.g., South Australian electricity assets are Chinese owned). There is significant foreign interest in our electricity assets. How simple to cripple a state by turning off the electricity supply.
The $20 billion from leasing these assets is illusory. In truth the NSW public sector's net financial worth will be substantially reduce adding $1-2 billion annually to the budget deficit, weakening the state's financial position.
It displays the worst features of past privatisations of public assets with the financial loss at the top end of the range of past ventures. 'Asset recycling' won't occur as non-income generating assets - hospitals, schools, roads - will replace an asset generating income.
The claim that 49% of the poles and wires will be leased is very misleading. One hundred per cent of Transgrid and 50.4% of both Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy will be privatised representing about 67% of electricity assets, not the 49% oft quoted by the coalition. Government will lose control over the underlying infrastructure.
Who wants a Premier with only a Plan A or a government that deceives the electorate for political gain?
MEG PICKUP
Ballina

One NSW Mid-North Coast council doing the right thing by the planet


The Coffs Coast Advocate 21 March 2015:

USING 100% renewable energy by 2030 is the boldest of a set of new energy and emissions targets set by Coffs Harbour City Council, which is embarking on a renewed push to save money and help improve the environment.

Other targets include:
* Reducing annual corporate emissions of CO2 gases from 2010 levels by 25% by 2020 and by 50% by 2025.
* Ensuring Council's energy use consists of 25% renewables by 2020 and 50% renewables by 2025.

"These are ambitious targets, but we are confident that as technology continues to improve and we carry on working hard to cut costs and greenhouse gas emissions, we will reach them," Coffs Harbour Mayor, Cr Denise Knight said.

The most recent initiative has been the installation of solar panels at the Botanic Garden, but Council has a long history of seeking energy-efficient solutions.

In 2004, Coffs Harbour became the first council in Australia to introduce energy-efficient street lighting across its entire local government area. In 2009, a landfill gas capture facility - the first of its kind on the Mid North Coast - was installed at the Coffs Coast Resource Recovery Park. This has seen a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions.

Then in 2010, Coffs Harbour City Council installed the largest public rooftop solar power array in NSW on the top of Rigby House which saves $30,000 per annum in electricity costs…..

Thursday, 26 March 2015

NSW State Election 2015: former federal minister & current gas industry lobbyist accused of lying about privatisation


Martin Ferguson reinvented himself after leaving parliamentary politics and, became a group executive in natural resources at Kerry Stokes' Seven Group Holdings, a non-executive director of the BG Group an international exploration and LNG production company and, chair of the advisory board at Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), a peak national body representing Australia’s oil and gas exploration and production industry.

This was Martin Ferguson in November 2014:

FORMER federal Labor energy minister Martin Ferguson has urged the party to support Premier Mike Baird’s electricity network privatisation push while also delivering a stinging rebuke to Opposition Leader John Robertson, who he said was stuck in the 1930s.
The comments came as Mr Ferguson compared the proposed long-term lease of 49 per cent of the electricity assets to raise $20 billion for much-needed infrastructure to the reforms of the Hawke and Keating governments in selling off Qantas and the Commonwealth Bank.
In a speech to be delivered at an Infrastructure Partnerships Australia lunch today, Mr Ferguson will call on Mr Robertson — an ardent opponent of the sale who he also compared to a 1930s Labor leader — to pass through the upper house the sale of the networks, should Mr Baird, as expected, win the election next March. [Martin Ferguson, Repowering NSW]

While this is Martin Ferguson today..........

Electrical Trades Union of Australia media release 24 March 2014:

Martin Ferguson caught on a lie with claim his position on privatisation is the same as during his political career.

Former Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has been caught lying to The Australian, after reportedly claiming that the position he held on privatisation was the same as what he had argued for throughout his political career.

Far from being a consistent position, it is a complete backflip from the speech he delivered at the launch of his parliamentary campaign which savaged privatisation, claimed the sale of power companies led to higher prices, and warned that cheap and equal access to services was best delivered by publicly owned companies.

During Mr Ferguson's speech at the launch of his campaign for the Victorian seat of Batman, in October 1995, he told the room of supporters:
“We’ve seen what the privatisation policies of the Liberals have done in this state — the education system in Victoria is reeling from the changes; the sale of the electricity companies will mean higher prices for ordinary consumers…
“Jeff Kennett’s privatisation plans hurt the battlers. And John Howard’s privatisation plans will also hurt the battlers.
“I am convinced that Telstra must remain in public hands… If our regions are to grow and compete they must be able to rely on a publicly-owned telecommunications company who will provide them cheap and equal access to the information super-highway.”

The Electrical Trades Union said Martin Ferguson had no credibility left and was simply parroting the messages of the major corporations he is now paid to represent.

“This was an Energy Minister who — between 2007 and 2013 — presided over the worst period of electricity price rises in Australian history,” ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said.

“According to the Federal Government’s own Australian Energy Regulator, national power prices increased by around 50 to 60 per cent from 2009 — under Mr Ferguson’s watch.

“Here we have one of the worst energy ministers this country has ever seen, blatantly contradicting the position he advocated to get in to parliament, all on behalf of corporate giants in the energy sector that stand to gain out of his new-found passion for privatisation.

“He has performed a backflip on this issue worthy of an Olympic gymnast.

“With Mr Ferguson’s record of failure, he simply has no credibility left when it comes to electricity privatisation or energy prices.”


NSW State Election 2015: No CSG No Coal says Yamba


The Daily Examiner 23 March 2015:

THE people of Yamba have spoken, with more than 87% of households saying yes to a gasfield-free future.

At an anti-CSG declaration at the Yamba River Markets yesterday morning, state election candidates for the seat of Clarence, Trent Gilbert, Janet Cavanagh, Debrah Novak and Bryan Robins, spoke publicly on their stance on the issue amid heavy rain.

Co-ordinator Dave Irving said that the downpour hampered entertainment and plans to make a human sign, it was not enough to keep people from turning out to support a declaration.

The move was the culmination of a year of planning, doorknocking and collating results which will be presented to Clarence Valley Council in the next few weeks.

During the project, volunteers surveyed 1501 households, with one respondent for each household.

Sixty-four respondents said they would welcome the coal seam gas industry, and 116 were not sure.

The remaining 1321, equating to 87.8% of those asked, said they did not support the introduction of the industry to the area.

As well as asking individual households if they wanted their land and roads to be gas-free, the question of whether they wanted their neighbourhood to be coal free was raised.

Just over 85% of respondents said they wanted to be coal free, with 8% not sure.

Eighty-nine people, representing 6.1% of those interviewed said they did not want Yamba to remain coal-free.

Mr Irving said concerns about coal came from a Regional Development Australia proposal to turn Yamba into a coal port.

"We don't want to be alarmist about it, because we have absolutely no idea of the viability of that, but as a proactive measure we decided to enter that question in there," he said.

The announcement comes a week after Iluka presented its own 91% gas-field free declaration to Clarence Valley councillor Sue Hughes, and Mr Irving said the movement was growing.

"I think people have been empowered by CSG movement, because they feel they can get up and have a say," Mr Irving said.

"If there wasn't opposition and it wasn't as broad as it is, it would be knocking on our front door already.

"The CSG movement has proven that we can make a difference, and hopefully people can take that confidence and apply it to other areas, whatever their concerns may be."

NSW State Election 2015: The Nationals must be worried that the Far North Coast might kick over the traces at the ballot box


First it was NSW North Coast Nationals who were sprung trying to increase their chances at the ballot box on Saturday by rather dubious means.

The Northern Star editorial on 24 March 2015:

The Northern Star has been used by the Nationals for electioneering purposes and I'd like to set the record straight for our readers.

There's an attack ad doing the rounds with the line that The Northern Star agrees Labor is full of 'hot air on CSG'.

In the television version of the advertisement, there is even a copy of an article written by our reporter Helen Hawkes. It appears below a headline with the same sort of line in it.

But that headline, quoted out of context from the article beneath, does not convey the true meaning of the story.

It was basically a yarn about Labor's political foes, most notably the Nationals, criticising Labor leader Luke Foley's announcement of a moratorium on CSG in NSW.

In effect the headline summed up that that Nationals and Greens were sceptical of Labor's call for a moratorium.

That view doesn't come with the ringing endorsement of The Northern Star as we have been striving to be fair and impartial in our coverage of the CSG issue.

My own personal view is that Labor's moratorium is like having an each-way bet at the races.

It's neither having a plan to introduce CSG, which the Nationals have been plugging, nor a ban on mining as the Greens want to do.

Moratoriums are only good for fence sitters who can't make up their mind.

Labor has further promised a permanent ban on CSG on the North Coast.

The waters have been muddied sufficiently on CSG with Labor and the Coalition blaming each other for its implementation.

I'd simply urge our readers to make up their own minds and vote accordingly on election day this Saturday.

Then it was the Catholic hierarchy in the Lismore diocese attempting to influence parishioners’ votes as though it was still 1950s Australia.

The Northern Star 24 March 2015:

PARENTS of local Catholic school students have received a State Election guide in school newsletters emailed to them.

It is understood some parents have lodged objections with their schools about the appropriateness of being sent a "form guide".

The guide includes information on where the three major parties stand on "abortion and protection of the unborn", euthanasia, marriage, Catholic schools and religious freedom, and has previously been inserted into Catholic church bulletins.

The guide features a foreword by Bishop of Lismore Geoffrey Jarrett, in which he said: "This is the moment to cast our vote and, for us Christians, it means a vote in accordance with our conscience: that's a conscience tuned to the deepest truths, among other things the dignity of the human person, their right to religious freedom, the preciousness of life, marriage and the family, and the rights of parents to educate their children in a way that respects their religious and moral beliefs".

"Apparently there is a saturation campaign being conducted," said Neville Kelly, a Ballina resident and Labor party member who was among parishioners who objected to what they saw as an infringement of democratic rights.

"As a Catholic, I abhor this disgusting behaviour."

The principal of St Mary's Catholic College in Casino, Aaron Beach, said parents had received election information from the diocese in the past.

"We have had no feedback either way," he said. "I don't have any concerns with putting out anything from the bishop - it is his prerogative to give information."…..