Monday, 16 July 2018

Not everyone was impressed by NSW Roads and Maritime Services temporary asphalt batching plant "drop-in information session"

Meme contributed
The Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina is being progressed by the Pacific Complete consortium composed of NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), UK multinational Laing O'Rourke and Canadian multinational WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

On 11 July 2018 this consortium held a drop-in information session on the subject of the proposed temporary asphalt batching plant at Woombah, a small village in the Clarence River estuary.

This batching plant servicing the Pacific Highway upgrade for the next two and a half years will see up tp 600 heavy and light vehicle movements each day at the Pacific Highway turnoff to Woombah and Iluka - up to 500 heavy vehicle and 100 light vehicle.

Residents from Woombah and Iluka attended the information session.

It was a masterpiece of information sharing apparently.

 Here are selected quotes from one Woombah resident's notes taken at the time.

* "Drop in session by Pacific Complete = complete disaster."

* "The Pad being constructed out of existing 'stock pile and lay down' being prepared for the Asphalt plant did not require approval - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director"

* "It just made it the lead contender for the only three sites you investigated raising it above the 1 in 100 flood level?
"Don't know what you're getting at" -  Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director" 

* "Safety Audit has been conducted for the Iluka turnoff" - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director 
By who?
"Don't know" - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director 
Can I get a copy?
"No - we do not give those out" - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director" 

* "The TRAFFIC INFO TABLE manned by Dave Allars and Ryan Leth were asked what traffic management were to be put in place for the construction of the Plant and the construction of the new Iluka Woombah intersection.
"Don't know" - Dave Allars"

Additional comment from a Woombah resident:

"Did you get to see Andrew Baker's response to briefing? Makes Gulaptis look smart."

“In his defense, he was lied to as well. Because they will force ALL TRAFFIC onto the new route - they told people was for southbound traffic only - the map clearly shows the old route (old Pac and Garrets will be closed) making the problem in fact - worse."

An email discussing the information session was also being sent out from Woombah:

“Pushing the residential/truck choke point from Iluka Road down to the new access road by 31 March 2019 is not a solution to the traffic safety problem. By closing off the Garrett's Lane Access to the Pacific Hwy, the exact same problem of congested traffic with the Plant will still exist into the foreseeable future. Given the Q1 2019 Map (attached) the dangers are increased with truck entry just meters from the New Pacific Hwy Entry. They will make the traffic problem even worse.

One Iluka resident had this to say about the information session:

"I see in the handout that they decided to slip in a concrete batching plant on the same site as well. Does that mean there will be even more trucks?"

Another Iluka resident had this to say about that same  information session:

“Unbelievably slick PR operation engaging up to 30 or even 50 of the staff from within the complex, mostly office and management type staff I think. All squeaky clean and friendly with first names on their jackets.

A few of the highway people were across the issues but there was a lot of “I don’t know" or "I’ll get back to you” or “come over here and meet so and so who might know”.

They claim the batching plant is world’s best practice with systems in place to capture fugitive dusts and emissions.

I asked repeatedly about trucks carrying bitumen into the asphalt plant, or out of the plant as asphalt  were considered a Hazmat incident if there was an accident involving either the bitumen tankers or the asphalt trucks, but couldn’t really get an answer. No one seemed to know.

Plenty of spin last night.”


Bitumin and asphalt are flammable and combustible solids which are Class 4 dangerous goods.

NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Work Health and Safety Procedures: Bitumin, 1 September 2017, excerpts:

Roads and Maritime Services managers must ensure that appropriate systems are in place to identify, assess and control workers’ exposure to bitumen. Additionally, managers must ensure that workers are provided with relevant information, training, instruction and supervision in the safe use, handling and emergency response requirements (for example bitumen burns cards) of bitumen products. Workers should be able to conduct their work without a risk to their health and safety. For their part, they need to take necessary precautions to prevent and effectively manage the potential hazards and risks of working with bitumen. Industry partners are required to meet work health and safety (WHS) legislative requirements and have in place appropriate safety management systems. Designers of Roads and Maritime infrastructure must eliminate or control (where elimination is not reasonably practicable) the possibility of injury or damage caused by work with bitumen during the construction, use, maintenance or demolition of infrastructure…

Work with bitumen refers to road construction and maintenance work involving:

* All aspects of ‘cold’ bitumen work (such as crack sealing or jointing and road maintenance using cold mix with emulsions applied at ambient temperature)

* ‘Hot’ bitumen products, which are those applied above ambient temperature. These include blending or heated bitumen binders, asphalt batch plant product, laying asphalt, stabilisation of granular materials with hot foamed bitumen, sprayed sealing with hot cutback or polymer modified bitumen or crack sealing with hot sealants

* Bitumen binders include cutback bitumen (with added solvents), bitumen emulsion (with chemically treated water), modified binders (including suitable storage with correct product signs and classification under Dangerous Goods) and oxidised bitumen…..

After identifying the hazards, risks and levels of risk for each risk, it is now necessary to identify and implement appropriate hazard controls. Where no single measure is sufficient, a number or combination of controls is usually required….

Ensuring emergency plans are developed for the specific worksite and emergency information panels are displayed on sides of vehicles carrying dangerous goods (HAZCHEM and UN Numbers), emergency contact numbers and Transport Management Centre (131700), where appropriate.


On Saturday 14 July 2018 the Woombah community held a meeting on the subject of the proposed temporary asphalt plant. This meeting was attended by Roads and Maritime Services Bob Higgins, some Pacific Complete staff and the Nationals MP for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis.

North Coast Voices has received a number of emails concerning this meeting and here are selected quotes:

* “Time after time – Pacific Complete were asked direct and specific questions that were uncomfortably left unanswered.”

* “Chris Gulaptis – when pressed several times “Would YOU like to like your family to live next door to an asphalt plant?” drew a pathetic “I do not know” to finally a capitulation.”

* “When asked about the toxic fumes Mr Gulaptis said ‘I don’t know until I know….but if its bad, if its toxic then of course it should be cut down, it should be closed down and it shouldn't be anywhere in fact, let alone on the corner of Iluka road but at the end of the day its got to go somewhere and we are going to look at the best site and the site that will least impact on our community’.”

* “Mr Bob Higgins, the representative from the RMS, who is in charge of delivering this project, was even more dismissive of community concerns regarding health, suggesting that things have improved over the years and “They have filters they have scrubbers so essentially it is steam which you see coming out.”  He further went on to question in relation to odour s from the plant “Is it harmful or is it inconvenient”  “Is it harmful?  I don’t believe this is the case.”  
I was appalled by that response. Steam does not have an odour! Bob Higgins has previously admitted on the ABC radio that Asphalt Plants do smell, they do have an odour. Breathing in  and smelling something means you are reacting to certain chemicals in the air. Those odours can be toxic and cause headache, nausea and other harmful health effects. 
Mr Higgins also stated that not only is the site to be used for stockpiling paving materials and then the asphalt batching plant but also a Foamed bitumen plant, which had not been disclosed to the community previously.  I find this also to be an additional concern."

* “It was brought to the attention of the meeting by a local residents that the Mororo Wetlands which lies on the western side of the highway is an area of significant environmental significant s with a number off endangered species of animals and pants as well as a koala presence.  From observation of the site it is clear that any run off from that site runs underneath the highway into Mororo Creek and Mororo Reserve. This was not addressed by anyone at the meeting."

* “Adam did talk about a new corridor being constructed under the highway for koalas to travel from one side of the highway to another however nothing about the current corridor which currently opens up onto the prepared site of the batch plant. He did not state the new corridor would be completed prior to proposed operation of the batch plant. Has anyone informed the Koalas?”

* “No answers were forthcoming from any speaker that addressed the dangers to the public, only that studies were currently underway. They had no plans in place to protect the safety of local road users.”

It appears that this meeting was at times quite testy with Gulaptis alternating between being quite defensive or argumentative, however it has resulted in a promise on the part of Roads and Maritime Services of a second extension to the formal submission period. With a date yet to be fixed.

Unfortunately what appears to have also been admitted is that because there are not one but two seperate plants that will be operating on the site, the number of construction vehicle movement is higher than previously disclosed.

For those interested, here is a link to the audio of this meeting:

At 43:11mins a Woombah resident living close to the proposed site with her husband who has Stage 4 lung cancer spoke of lack of available information, questioned air quality and any effect this may have on her husband's quality of life. 

Sea Levels and the NSW Coastine in 2018: Ballina

“A recent study estimates that the pace of global sea-level rise has nearly tripled since 1990 (Dangendorf et al. 2017). More than 50% of the Australian coastline is vulnerable to erosion from rising sea levels….As sea levels continue to rise, coastal flooding during high sea level events will become more frequent and more severe (CSIRO and BoM 2015).”  [Climate Council, 2018, ICONS AT RISK: CLIMATE CHANGE THREATENING AUSTRALIAN TOURISM]]

New South Wales has est. 2,109kms of open coastline and 40 per cent of this is considered vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise.

Ballina is a coastal town in the NSW Northern River region. Its CBD is on the banks of the tidal Richmond River where it empties into the sea.

Sea level rise is something Ballina has been discussing for many years because for the Ballina community the evidence is right before residents’ eyes.

This was Tamar Street in the CBD in January 2018 at high tide.

Tamar Street, Ballina NSW, January 2018. Saltwater intrusion at high tide, Entrance to main bus station on the  left.

* Photograph via @Captainturtle

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Scammers have cloned MyGov website and are sending out fake emails

Stay Smart Online, 4 July 2018:

Scammers have set up a clone of the myGov website to trick you into sharing your login and bank account details.

The scam starts with a phishing email that looks like it is from Medicare, asking you to update your Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) details, so you can start receiving payments for Medicare benefits and claims.

If you click on the link in the email you are taken a replica of the real myGov website. You’ll note the URL includes ‘.net’ instead of ‘’, which is an indication the website is not a legitimate Australian Government domain!

"Bad actor" Facebook Inc given £500,000 maximum fine - any future breach may cost up to £1.4bn

The Guardian, 11 July 20018:

Facebook is to be fined £500,000, the maximum amount possible, for its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the information commissioner has announced.

The fine is for two breaches of the Data Protection Act. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) concluded that Facebook failed to safeguard its users’ information and that it failed to be transparent about how that data was harvested by others.

 “Facebook has failed to provide the kind of protections they are required to under the Data Protection Act,” said Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner. “Fines and prosecutions punish the bad actors, but my real goal is to effect change and restore trust and confidence in our democratic system.”

In the first quarter of 2018, Facebook took £500,000 in revenue every five and a half minutes. Because of the timing of the breaches, the ICO said it was unable to levy the penalties introduced by the European General Data Protection (GDPR), which caps fines at the higher level of €20m (£17m) or 4% of global turnover – in Facebook’s case, $1.9bn (£1.4bn). The £500,000 cap was set by the Data Protection Act 1998.

As one of the IT whistleblowers described the situation...

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Meme of the Week

via Twitter

Quotes of the Week

“The LNP state conference was just 3 old real estate agents short of banning sex because it might lead to dancing.”  [Possum Comitatus, commenting on conservative politics in Queensland, Twitter,  8 July 2018]

“Trump is not an unusual American president with contrarian ideas. He is an off-the-charts repudiation of everything the United States has stood for since 1945: representative government, liberty, the rule of law, free trade, a rules-based international order, open societies, pluralism and human rights.”  [Journalist Roger Cohan, writing in The New York Times, 9 July 2018]

Friday, 13 July 2018

How Trump's corporate tax cuts played out in the US economy, 10 July 2018:

Evidence is now emerging of just how extraordinarily wasteful Donald Trump's trillion-dollar corporate tax cut has been as the results -- or lack thereof -- filter into the real US economy.

It's now well-established that the bulk of the tax cuts have gone into record-breaking share buybacks and increased dividends by US companies, with hundreds of billions of dollars flowing or set to flow back to investors. But not a lot of the rest is flowing into extra investment -- the raison d'etre of company tax cuts. New investment data shows US equipment investment fell in the first quarter of the year compared to the final quarter of 2017. How about wages, which are supposed to increase due to company tax cuts (at least according to Mathias Cormann)? In June, monthly wage growth in the US fell to 0.2% from 0.3% in March, lower than expected and leaving wage growth at 2.7% for the 2017-18 year. Inflation in the US was 2.8% for the year to May, suggesting US workers are actually going backwards after inflation.

US unemployment is at 4% (up a tad) — far below our own level of 5.5%. Like the Kiwis, the Americans can’t get wages to grow even with full employment — or even with tax cuts that have massively inflated the US deficit at a time of peak employment.

The fact that Trump and his GOP cronies have pushed the US budget deficit toward $1 trillion a year (remember when the Republicans were the party of fiscal restraint?) at a time of such strong employment also has implications for the stimulatory effect of such largesse. New research from the San Francisco Federal Reserve shows that fiscal stimulus is significantly weaker at times of expansion than during recessions, and that the Republican tax cuts will not meet what the paper terms the “overly optimistic” expectations of boosters. Instead of the boost to US GDP growth this year of about 1.3 percentage points estimated by the Congressional Budget Office and other forecasters, they write, “the true boost is more likely to be less than 1 percentage point,” with some studies pointing to as little as zero.....  

Read the full article here.

Five to face Brisbane court over serious breaches of environmental law

It is thought that up to 320 square kilometres of agricultural land around Chinchilla may be at risk from contamination by chemicals and gases, due to alleged mismanagement of underground burning by Linc Energy Limited.

In November  2016 former Linc Energy chief executive Peter Bond along with four former staff members – Donald Schofield (managing director), Stephen Dumble (chief operations officer), Jacobus Terblanche (chief operations manager) and Darryl Rattai (former general manager) – were summonsed for breaching environmental law.

However their matters were adjoined until after The Queen v. Linc Energy Ltd was concluded and are all five are now due to face a committal hearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court this month.


ABC News, 11 May 2018:

A gas company has been fined a record $4.5 million for causing serious environmental harm at its underground coal gasification plant on Queensland's western Darling Downs.

Linc Energy was found guilty by a District Court jury in Brisbane last month after a 10-week trial.

The company was charged with five counts of wilfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental harm between 2007 and 2013 at Hopeland near Chinchilla.

Linc Energy mismanaged the underground burning of coal seams, which caused rock to fracture and allowed the escape of toxic gases which contaminated the air, soil and water on site.

The court heard the highest fine imposed upon a company so far in Queensland for similar offending was $500,000.

Linc Energy did not defend itself during the trial because it is now in liquidation.
Five executive directors have been charged with failing to ensure compliance of the company and are due to face a committal hearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court in July.

Prosecutor Ralph Devlin told the court the company knew it was causing damage but pressed ahead with operations, and described its offending as "serious".

"The defendant acted in devious and cavalier way … its motivation was commercial gain," he said.

"It pursued commercial interests over environmental safeguards."

The court heard there would be monitoring and remediation of the site for decades to come, and it will take potentially between 10 to 20 years for groundwater to recover.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2018:

“It was an undefended case, the liquidators chose not to defend it, so, of course, there is going to be a guilty verdict,’’ he [Peter Bond] told The Australian of Monday's court ruling.

“It means nothing; there was no one in court to call bullshit and there was a lot of bullshit to that case."

Excerpt from THE QUEEN v. LINC ENERGY LTD (IN LIQUIDATION), 11 May 2018, Sentence:

HIS HONOUR: On the 9th of April 2018, Linc Energy Limited in liquidation was found guilty by a jury of five counts of wilfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental harm. That followed a 10-week trial, and the offence is contained in the Environmental Protection Act. There was no appearance by the defendant in in  liquidation pursuant to an order of the Supreme Court under the Corporations Law. The liquidators did not have to appear. That caused particular difficulties during the trial and also has an impact on sentence proceedings as I have not been assisted by any submissions on behalf of the defendant in relation to penalty.

As the defendant is a corporation, the only penalties that are open are financial: either a fine or compensation. The provision in relation to the imposition of fines is covered by sections 45 to 48 of the Penalties and Sentences Act. The first aspect of that is that, pursuant to section 48(1)(a) and (b) and subsection (2) of that Penalties and Sentences Act, the Court must take into account:

 …so far as is practicable, the financial circumstances of the offender and the nature of the burden the imposition of the fine would have on the offender.

Section 48, subsection (2) provides the Court may fine if it is unable to find out the  matters referred to in subsection (1). There is no information before me as to the circumstances of the liquidation of the corporation. I am unaware of any of its assets or liabilities, or whether it will have the capacity to pay fines. As to the utility of imposing a financial penalty on a corporation in liquidation, there are no restrictions in law as to that. Indeed, the cases referred to me demonstrate it is appropriate, 25 whether as a need for denunciation or general deterrence of specific criminal conduct…..

In relation to counts 1 to 3, a combination of section 437 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and 45 section 181B of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 provides a maximum penalty of five times the 4165 penalty units, that is, a total of 1,561,875 thousand dollars for each of the offences covered in counts 1 to 3……

In my view, the defendant put its commercial interests well above its duty to conduct its processes in a way that safeguarded the environment. This is shown by its continued efforts to be seen as a successful Gas to Liquid producer on a commercial scale, where it operated gasifiers clearly above hydrostatic pressure to produce suitable gas for the GTL process, well knowing that contaminants were escaping widely and that damage to the land structure was occurring. As I have noted during the course of argument, there are varying degrees of wilfulness, which is an element of each offence.

The Prosecution have submitted that the appropriate way to approach the quantum is 45 by assessing the maximum and then reaching an appropriate proportion to address each offence. In terms of the section I earlier quoted in relation to the quantum of  fines, it seems to me the damage occasioned by each of these offences is significant and needs to be taken into account in the calculation of a quantum. In relation to each of counts 1 to 3, I accept the Prosecution’s submission that it is appropriate to impose 50 per cent of the maximum in relation to those.

In relation to each of counts 4 and 5, as I have noted, there are aggravating features. The defendant was well aware of the problems with the site and proceeded in disregard of its own experts. They had clearly advised the site was unsuitable because of the earlier gasifier operations; however, the defendant persisted simply 10 on a commercial basis.

In relation to the final count, the defendant purposely hid the issue of groundwater contamination from the regulator. I accept the Prosecution’s submission that fines in relation to each of those later offences should be at 75 per cent of the maximum.
I intend to reduce each of those fines to recognise the totality issues that I have spoken about, including the interplay between each offence and the damage that has actually been occasioned. On each of counts 1, 2 and 3, I fine the defendant the sum of $700,000. On each of counts 4 and 5, I fine the defendant the sum of $1,200,000. Convictions are recorded. The Prosecution does not seek its costs in relation to this Prosecution.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Don't expect your residential electricity costs to come down anytime soon

In three years time the amount of revenue electricity network companies can charge customers will be reduced, which according to the Australian Energy Regulator in its Draft Rate of Return Guideline "could [not would] result in household customers’ bills decreasing by around $30 to $40 per year".

Remembering all the other failed assurances that the cost of residentail electricity would come down, it is a brave individual who takes this latest prediction at face value.

The Australian Energy Regulator has moved to significantly cut the amount of revenue electricity network companies can charge customers in a bid to take the pressure off households and businesses enduring high power prices.
AER chair Paula Conboy said it would reduce average household electricity bills by about $30 to $40 a year….

But energy network companies claim the new guidelines will strip about $2 billion in revenue over the next five years and threaten future investment in the energy sector.
Morgan Stanley said the rule, if confirmed, would cut valuations of listed grid owners such as Spark Infrastructure and Ausnet Services, while adding it "could have been worse".

Energy users welcomed the move as a sign the regulator is prioritising the interests of consumers although Energy Consumers of Australia acting head Lynne Gallagher said the proposed reduction in the rate of return able to be earned on capital could have been bigger.

"There is no doubt that there could be some disappointment from some consumer groups with this decision, but it is a much better outcome than we've seen in previous years on this issue," Ms Gallagher said....

AusNet said that if the rule is confirmed, the reductions would apply to its power distribution network from the beginning of 2021, in transmission from April 1 2022 and in gas from January 1 2023. Spark said the rule would apply to its various assets in 2020, 2021 and 2023….

Mr Turnbull is also expected to use his speech in Brisbane to talk on the long-awaited Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into electricity prices which is expected to be released this week. The ACCC report is expected to be used as a reason not to call a royal commission into electricity prices as being pushed by the Greens. 

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Restoring electricity affordability & Australia's competitive advantage, 11 July 2018, excerpts:

Australia is facing its most challenging time in electricity markets. High prices and bills have placed enormous strain on household budgets and business viability. The current situation is unacceptable and unsustainable. The approach to policy, regulatory design and promotion of competition in this sector has not worked well for consumers. Indeed, the National Energy Market (NEM) needs to be reset, and this report sets out a plan for doing this…….

There are many causes of the current problems in the electricity market. At all stages of the supply chain decisions have been made over many years by many governments that set the NEM on the wrong course.

In networks, the framework that governs regulation of monopoly infrastructure was loosened, leaving the regulator with limited ability to constrain excess spending by network owners. The limited merits review (LMR) regime allowed network owners to appeal regulatory decisions and recover billions of additional dollars from consumers. It led to significant increases in prices, has drawn out the length of time taken for revenue determinations, and has created significant uncertainty around network pricing. In addition, increased expenditure on networks was driven by reliability standards for some networks that were set too high, without due regard for consumers’ willingness to pay for marginal increases in reliability.

In generation, against ACCC advice, the Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) governments made decisions regarding the operation and ownership of generation assets giving rise to concentrated markets. In Queensland, the government consolidated the generation assets of three businesses into two. In NSW, as one example, both generators owned by Macquarie Generation were sold to AGL, missing an opportunity to deliver a competitive market structure by selling them to separate buyers.

Most state governments put in place excessively generous solar feed-in tariff schemes with a view to encouraging consumers to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Under these schemes, the subsidy paid to consumers for the energy produced by their systems outweighed, by many multiples, the value of that energy. Take up of the schemes exceeded all expectations, in part due to dramatic declines in solar PV installation costs. The substantial cost of the schemes continues to be spread across all electricity users.

The main enduring policy instrument for encouraging low-emissions electricity generation is the Renewable Energy Target. While it has been effective at encouraging wind and solar generation capacity installation, it has also distorted the investment that has occurred in the transition from higher carbon technologies to lower ones. The subsidies received for installing wind and solar made the business case for doing so compelling but did so in a way that was indifferent to the ability to provide energy to the market when demand requires it.

At a time when gas-powered generation has become more important with the exit of large coal-fired plants, the extent of LNG exports from the East Coast and government moratoria on on-shore gas exploration and development have stifled the availability of gas at a low price.

Electricity retailers have also played a major role in poor outcomes for consumers. Retailers have made pricing structures confusing and have developed a practice of discounting which is opaque and not comparable across the market. Standing offers are priced excessively to facilitate this practice, leaving inactive customers paying far more than they need to for electricity. Pay on time discounts, which have emerged as a response to attempts to constrain late payment fees, are excessive and punitive for those customers who fail to pay bills on time. [my yellow highlighting]

One for the history buffs out there

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), The NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board 1883-1969 Map

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Former head of Australia's Border Force is still under investigation for corruption

It appears that Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Minister for Home Affairs and Liberal MP for Dickson Peter Dutton's captain's pick is still under investigation.

ABC News, 4 July 2018:

The former head of Australia's Border Force is still under investigation for corruption despite being sacked more than three months ago.

Roman Quaedvlieg was one of Australia's highest-paid public servants until his unprecedented dismissal for helping his girlfriend land a job with the agency.

The termination came after inquiries were launched by the Prime Minister's Department and the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI).

The ABC has now learned the ACLEI probe is still underway — more than a year after the Commonwealth watchdog was told of Mr Quaedvlieg's alleged misconduct.

"I've never been interviewed by anyone, including ACLEI," Mr Quaedvlieg said in a statement.

"This is the first I've heard the ACLEI investigation is still active."

Fall of Roman's empire:
May 2017: Roman Quaedvlieg begins paid leave following complaint
June 2017: Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) notified
August 2017: ACLEI provides update to Immigration Department boss
August 2017: PM's Department boss asked whether grounds exist to sack Quaedvlieg
February 2018: Attorney-General receives PM's Department report
March 15, 2018: Governor-General terminates Quaedvlieg's employment

The inaugural Border Force commissioner said he was considering his legal options after being removed from the $600,000-a-year role.

Mr Quaedvlieg has previously denied any wrongdoing and last year expressed frustration at the time taken for investigations to be concluded.

The commission said it received a referral from Immigration Department secretary Michael Pezzullo mid-last year.

"The Integrity Commissioner received a notification in relation to Mr Quaedvlieg … in June 2017 and commenced a corruption investigation shortly thereafter," a spokesman said.

"At this time the investigation remains ongoing."

ACLEI has oversight of about 20,000 Commonwealth law enforcement officials, including members of the Australian Federal Police and the Home Affairs Department.
The agency had 47 full-time-equivalent staff during the 2016-17 financial year.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

NSW Berejiklian Government 2018: How not to conduct a community consultation in the Clarence Valley, NSW

The Daily Examiner, Letter to the Editor, 10 July 2018, p.13:

So Road and Maritime Services intends to establish a temporary asphalt batching plant at Woombah with a heavy truck access road crossing Iluka Road approximately 230 metres from the Pacific Highway T-intersection.

One couldn’t choose a site more unsafe for private vehicles and more disruptive to tourist traffic. One that also is less than 500 metres from a waterway which empties into the Clarence River Estuary.

One couldn’t find a more inadequate approach to community consultation.

The Pillar Valley community were given an RMS community information session scheduled to last one and a half hours in May 2016 ahead of construction of a temporary batching plant there.

In September 2016 the Donnellyville community received a detailed 5-page information document at least a month ahead of construction and this included an aerial map showing infrastructure layout within the proposed temporary batching plant site. Up front the community was allotted two drop-in information sessions.
Most of the residents in Woombah and Iluka appear to have found out about the proposed temporary plant planned for Woombah in July 2018, the same month construction is due to start.

This plant will be in use for the next two and a half years but only a few residents were given some rudimentary information in a 3-page document and initially the community was not even offered a drop-in information session.

Perhaps the NSW Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, and Roads and Maritime Services might like to explain the haphazard, belated approach taken to informing the communities of Woombah and Iluka of the proposed plant.

The people of Woombah and Iluka deserve better. They deserve a formal information night which canvasses all the issues, with representatives from RMS and the Pacific Highway project team prepared to address concerns and answer questions, as well as a representative of the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight in attendance as an observer.

They don’t deserve to be fobbed off with a quick patch-up, comprising a drop-in information session and one RMS representative deciding to attend a local community run meeting.

I’m sure that all residents and business owners in both Woombah and Iluka would appreciate a departmental re-think of this situation.

Judith Melville, Yamba

It is also beginning to look as though Roads and Maritime Services is only just getting around to meeting with Clarence Valley shire councillors as a group this week to brief them on the asphalt batching plant site.

WHat did the IPA do with all those millions?

The Daily Telegraph, 6 July 2018, p.23:

…a mysterious foundation, CEF, which received $4 million from Hancock Prospecting in the year to June 2015, and the conservative Institute of Public Affairs think tank, which received $4.5 million from Hancock Prospecting. The Institute did not declare Hancock Prospecting’s donation in its annual report, and after receiving the funds awarded Mrs Rinehart life membership. [my yellow highlighting]

So one of the big donors to that lobby group passing itself off as a public policy think tank, the Institute Of Public Affairs Limitedendorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient since 30 March 2006 - has been revealed.

I wonder what the Institute of  Public Affairs Limited or the The Trustee For Institute Of Public Affairs Research Trust did with all those millions?

Because IPA annual reports do not show a $4.5 million spike. By 30 June 2015 its revenue which is primarily derived from membership fees and donations stood at $3.24 million (down from $3.47 million in June 2014) and only rose by $1.75 million as at 30 June 2016. In fact between June 2015 and June 2017 IPA revenue only rose by a total of $2.86 million.

By the end of the 2017 financial year the Trustee was telling the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission that it was still only a “medium sized charity” run by 5 volunteers holding only $1,140,497 in cash or cash equivalents and this was the trust’s total assets.

In fact that $4.5 million donation isn’t recorded in any of the financial reports submitted to the charities commission either.

Even though the IPA is supposedly a think tank and the trust fund was set up for the public charitable object of undertaking scientific research one is tempted to question this omission. 

June 2015 was less than a year out from the 2016 federal election campaign. Given their ‘joined at the hip’ relationship, did the IPA use part or most of these millions to assist the Liberal Party election campaign in some manner?

Perhaps the IPA Board* would like to enlighten us all on that point?

Institute of Public Affairs Limiter Board Members

The Hon. Rod Kemp,  Chair
John Roskam, Executive Director
Dr Janet Albrechtsen
Harold Clough
Dr Tim Duncan
Dr Michael Folie
Michael Hickinbotham
Geoff Hone
Rod Menzies
William Morgan
Maurice O’Shannassy 

Institute of Public Affairs Research Trust Board Members