Friday, 1 January 2016

While I was away........

After a prolonged absence from blogging due to illness, here is a little catchup from the period July to December 2015.

* NSW Premier and Liberal MP for Manly Mike Baird puts "lipstick on a pig" by calling for an increase in the Goods & Service Tax (GST) to 15 per cent. 

* The community consultation dialogue between ratepayers and Clarence Valley Council over proposed consecutive rate rises every year for the next five years remained as colourful as ever:
* One of Australia’s most influential women, former Federal Labor MP for Page Janelle Saffin announced she will be standing against sitting Nationals MP Kevin Hogan at the 2016 federal election. [Echo Netdaily, 23 September 2015]

* Clarence Valley Council changed its logo to:
And not everyone was happy.               

* Coal seam gas company Metgasco Limited finally bowed to people power and walked away from its exploration leases on the NSW North Coast with a state government compensation cheque totaling $25 million in its back pocket:
* The NSW Nationals used Twitter to take credit for Metgasco’s capitulation – which saw a predictable response:

* The strength of NSW gun laws was demonstrated to a retiree living on Palmer's Island in the Clarence Valley:

* On 17 December 2015 The Daily Examiner published an article titled The 600 major companies that paid less tax than you, but neglected to tell its readers that it was owned by one of these very same companies, APN NEWS & MEDIA  LTD, which had an income of $310.3 million in the 2013-14 financial year.  A total of $21.2 million of this was considered taxable income, yet this company had no tax payable listed for that financial year.
* That one-time darling of the Liberal-Nationals federal government, Kathy Jackson, got her comeuppance:

The disgraced union leader declared bankruptcy in June, on the opening day of HSU Federal Court proceedings which resulted in her being ordered to pay $1.4m to the union as compensation for up to $2.5m misappropriated from members while she was its national secretary between 2008 and February this year.
But her discharge from bankruptcy will only remain in place for three years, meaning the HSU may be able to continue to recoup some of the money she owes after that time.
On Tuesday, Ms Jackson's bill increased by $997,349, when judge Richard Tracey ordered she pay $554,215.67 in interest, $356,500 in legal costs and $86,633.81 in appeal costs.
Brisbane-based commercial barrister Gavin Handran, listed in the most recent Doyles Guide as one of Australia's leading insolvency and reconstruction junior counsels, said Ms Jackson solicited bankruptcy too early.
"The order for costs, circa $350,000, made by Justice Tracey on 21 December is not a debt provable in her bankruptcy even though it relates to a damages award made before bankruptcy," Mr Handran said. "The HSU may accordingly enforce that order against her, perhaps resulting in her again becoming bankrupt or surrendering any assets she acquires in the interim, after her current bankruptcy ends." Mr Handran said the law applied differently to interest and costs. "She might be safe with the interest," he said.
"I suspect what Kathy Jackson did, like so many in her troubled circumstances, was that she ran off on first day and filed for bankruptcy. That was premature.

"It's particularly important for the HSU workers to understand that she's not out of the woods. The sword still hangs over her head." "Not only does she face the real prospect of re-entering bankruptcy after she emerges from this period, but there's also the possibility that the HSU, depending on a cost-benefit analysis, may examine her under oath in the Federal Court, with the assistance of the bankruptcy trustee, to ascertain whether she's transferred any assets to a third party or (her partner, Michael) Lawler." HSU national secretary Chris Brown said the union was "alive to the possibility" of Ms Jackson facing a second round of bankruptcy, or interrogation over the transfer of assets. The union was still determining how it would approach the matter. [The Australian, 24 December 2015, p.5]

* NSW Coalition Premier Mike Baird thought his ability to waste $500,000 of taxpayers' money deserved a tweet or two:
Go to to see the Australian version of Reefer Madness that Baird signed off on.

There were 222 industrial disputes in Australia during the year ended September 2015, involving 78,000 individuals in a workforce of est. 11.7 million people. The majority of these ‘strikes’ appear to have lasted 2 days or less.

This low level of disputes does not please former prime minister Tony Abbott who, living in a time long past, argued in December 2015 for a tougher approach to breaking up illegal union pickets, saying police forces “around our country” had to be prepared to “uphold the law and not simply keep the peace … A lot of police forces have been traditionally reluctant to break picket lines where picket lines have been preventing people from going about their ordinary lawful business”.

* Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon delivered his discredited final report on union governance and corruption to the Australian Governor-General on 28 December. The full report can be found at:

It came as no surprise that Dyson Mr.Apprehended Bias 2015 Heydon decided that Kathy Jackson was really a hero who just happened to embezzle over $1.4 million dollars:


* The independent Q&A Review Final Report released in December 2015 appears to have discovered that this ABC program is skewed in favour of the government of the day:

Conservative flying monkeys dropped from Australian skies in shock.

* WorkChoices Mark 2 appears to be forming on the horizon ahead of this year’s federal election:

Former workplace relations minister Eric Abetz says the Fair Work Commission cannot ignore calls to reduce Sunday penalty rates, if as expected the Productivity Commission recommends the move on Monday.
Senator Abetz was the workplace relations minister until the Liberal leadership change and cabinet reshuffle in September.
Speaking ahead of the Productivity Commission's release of its final report into the industrial relations system, he told Fairfax Media the review must be respected by the Fair Work Commission which sets wages and entitlements. [The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 2015]

The recommendations — laid out in the commission's final report into workplace relations released on Monday — would affect workers in the entertainment, hospitality and retail industries, if adopted.
The commission did not recommend any changes to overtime penalty rates, night penalty rates or shift loadings, nor changes to rates for nurses, teachers or emergency services workers.
"Penalty rates have a legitimate role in compensating employees for working long hours or at asocial times," it stated.
"However, Sunday penalty rates for hospitality, entertainment, retailing, restaurants and cafes are inconsistent across similar work, anachronistic in the context of changing consumer preferences, and frustrate the job aspirations of the unemployed and those who are only available for work on Sunday.
"Rates should be aligned with those on Saturday, creating a weekend rate for each of the relevant industries."
Announcing the report's findings, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the Government would examine the recommendations and, if the case for sensible and fair changes to workplace relations were outlined, they would be taken to the next election. [ABC News, 21 December 2015]

ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja said the Coalition should argue for a cut in Sunday penalty rates at next year's election.
"The Productivity Commission has done some really important work here," Senator Seselja he said.
"I think that we should be looking to put some policies to the next election which make incremental reforms in this area that go down the path the Productivity Commission is recommending.
"In the hospitality industry, in particular, that's where I hear the most from business owners, that's where I think the reforms should be occurring, and I think that's the sort of thing that we could develop a policy to take to an election." [ABC News, 21 December  2015]
Pharmacists in Australia have voted to launch industrial action for the first time, starting Christmas Eve, as a national pharmacy chain moves to slash penalty rates. It comes amid tense debate over a proposed Australia-wide rollback of Sunday penalty rates for workers in hospitality, retail and entertainment jobs, following an inquiry by the Productivity Commission. Pharmacists employed at dozens of National Pharmacies sites across Victoria and South Australia will now become the first in their profession to take action against an employer, as anger rises over threats to their penalty rates. From Thursday, pharmacists will embark on a campaign against National Pharmacies, authorising strikes of up to 24 hours that could force the temporary closure of some sites if the deadlock continues. The campaign this week will begin with pharmacists refusing to perform a range of work duties. National Pharmacies is attempting to cut pharmacists' penalty rates by as much as 50 per cent for certain hours on Saturday shifts. Double-time Sunday rates would remain in place. The company also wants to lower overtime pay, freeze the wages of existing pharmacists and introduce a two-tiered pay scheme, according to the union. In a statement, National Pharmacies said the pressures of a competitive and uncertain marketplace had forced a need to align with the rest of the industry. [The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 December 2015, p.4]

* It became obvious that local thoughts had begun to turn to the 2016 election of councillors:
Excerpts from Clarence Valley Rate Payers, Residents and Business Owners Facebook page - featuring Deputy Mayor Cr. Craig Howe & the artwork of a ratepayer.

With the national terrorism threat level still fixed as "PROBABLE" by the Turnbull Government, DIBP and presumably many in Border Farce took an eleven day Chrissie holiday:


On 29 December The Guardian reported that the Turnbull ministry is three and a half months old and already there are two casualties. One looks fairly straightforward. The other, not so. In both cases, Malcolm Turnbull is well rid of them under the circumstances….
Jamie Briggs resigned after he “interacted” with a female public servant in an “informal manner” in a late night bar on an overseas trip. She complained he had acted inappropriately…..
The other casualty was Mal Brough, the former special minister of state. This is more opaque and the stink has a potential to linger given Brough has promised only to step aside, not resign…..

Background on Mal Brough “stink” by barrister Ross Bowler.

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